Things to consider when moving into later life accommodation

Practical advice on what to do when thinking about making a move into a house or home, including how funding works, the means test and some helpful organisations.

Practical Advice

Once you’ve decided that the time is right to move, there are two main things you’ll need to find out:

  • What are your needs and how can they best be met?
  • What are you eligible for in terms of funding?

Until you know the answers to these two questions, you won’t know what options are open to you to best suit your needs. Deciding to move not only involves your personal needs; it’s a good time to consider where you are financially as well.

Talk to your family and friends too, as they will be able to give you their thoughts and help you through the process. There are so many options to chose from and this is not something that you have to do on your own.

  • Do you want to stay living in your current home but get extra help with tasks?
  • Do you want to downsize, and not have the responsibility of your own home?
  • Do you want extra security, company, familiarity or privacy?

These are all things that you and your family and friends will need to consider. This is, however, an individual decision, and should be based on your personal needs, circumstances and the things that matter the most to you.

What local authorities do - their roles and responsibilities

Your local authority or council is the body responsible for assessing your needs, and holds the budgets for paying for help, assistance and care. When you think your needs are getting too much for your current situation, you can ask the local authority to assess what your needs are (a care-needs assessment) and a financial assessment to see what, if anything, you would have to pay for any services or care. If you’re staying in your own home, the value of your home is not included in calculations to determine what assets you have.

The local authority must provide you with a free care needs assessment, and this will indicate what, if any, services or care you can choose. Even if you’re intending on funding your own care, you should still discuss your situation with the local authority as they can help you to identify areas where you might need help and arrange this for you. You can find your local authority on the Directgov website.

Means testing

It can be quite confusing to work out what funding you might be entitled to. Your needs assessment will have discovered what your “eligible” needs are. These needs will determine what your personal budget is. If you are funding your care yourself, it’s called an ‘independent personal budget’.

From April 2016, this amount is added up, and counts towards the care cap - the amount beyond which your eligible care needs become fully funded by the local authority. A financial assessment will take place after your needs have been determined, and this will state what you can afford to contribute towards your care costs.

From April 2016, if you have less than £17,000 in savings, you will not need to use any of your savings to pay for your care. At the moment, people with less than £14,250 in savings don’t pay for care. If you have more than £17,000 in savings but less than £27,000 you’ll need to contribute some of your savings towards the cost. If your savings are above £27,000, you’ll need to pay the whole amount.

If you are moving into care after April 2016 and have more than £17,000 in savings and capital but less than £118,000, you will need to contribute some of the money towards your fees. If you have over £118,000 then you will need to pay all of your care home fees (note these figures will change annually in line with inflation).

Helpful organisations

There are many sources of help that you can turn to:

  • GOV.UK has a range of information on planning for retirement, including information and advice on pensions, tax and benefits.
  • FirstStop Advice is an independent free service offering advice and information for older people, their families and carers about housing and care options in later life. You can call them on 0800 3777070.
  • The Money Advice Service is an independent service set up by the government to help people make the most of their money. Their advice is free and unbiased, and can be contacted online, by phone or face to face. Call 0300 5005000 for an appointment.
  • Age UK is a large national charity offering advice, information and guidance on a range of later life matters. Call their advice line on 0800 169 6565.