Paying for Residential Care

The Care Act in 2015 outlined some changes to how people will pay for social care in the future. The subsequent General Elections of 2015 & 2017, have meant it's no longer certain that these proposed changes will be implemented.

The Care Act proposed in 2015

From April 2015 all local authorities must provide an information and advice service that is accessible to everyone in the local population, along with access to independent financial advisors. This must include types of care and support and how to access them.

What is the Care Act? from Skills for Care

More information about the Care Act can be found on GOV.UK.

The Care Act says that people will be entitled to have their needs met when:

  • Their needs fit the eligibility criteria (see definition below)
  • They are residents in that local authority
  • Any of the following five situations apply:
    1. The type of care and support they need is available free of charge
    2. The person concerned can’t afford to pay the full cost of their care and support
    3. The person concerned asks the local authority to meet their needs
    4. The person concerned doesn’t have mental capacity and has nobody else to arrange their care

Eligibility for care results when someone has needs as a result of physical or mental disability or illness which means that they are unable to carry out one or more of the following basic activities:

  • Eating, drinking or preparing meals
  • Personal hygiene e.g. washing
  • Toileting
  • Getting up and dressing
  • Getting around and cleaning and maintaining the home
  • They are unable to maintain family or personal relationships
  • They are unable to work, volunteer or take part in training or education
  • They are unable to access community services or facilities, including for leisure and having fun
  • They are unable to care for a child

How personal finances are assessed

Those in need of social care will be means tested by the local council to decide how much they should pay towards their care.

How it currently works:

  • If you have capital and savings above £23,250, you will have to fund all of your own social care.
  • If you have under £14,250 you don’t have to pay anything at all.

This may change as the details set out in the Care Act are no longer certain to come into force.

The Government has announced it is to publish a green paper (probably in 2018) that will provide the basis for new legislation on how to plan and pay for social care.

Social care legislation

The new social care legislation focuses on prevention rather than crisis management. Local authorities are required under the Care Act to provide preventative services to maintain the health of service users rather than dealing with them after an emergency or crisis point has been reached. These services must prevent peoples’ care needs from deteriorating so that they can make informed and considered decisions about their care and support needs in a timely manner. The information and advice provided will need to include both information on health conditions and their management as well as on social care provision.

Anybody receiving publicly funded or arranged care (even if it is privately funded) is now protected by the Human Rights Act. This will allow them to argue that substandard care has breached their ‘human rights’ which are protected by law in such situations. This protection is not afforded to people who self-fund and privately arrange their own care.

Under the new Care Act, local authorities will have increased responsibilities for checking on the care providers in their area. If a care provider is failing, then the local authority will have a duty to ensure that care needs are met seamlessly and are not disrupted.