5 Common Misconceptions and Myths about care

1. The common misconception: Care is free, isn’t it? 

The truth: Care isn’t free.  Most care needs to be paid for by you.  There is some care that is means tested but there is lots of care which is just is not provided by the state, full stop.  Means testing means that, if you have more money/assets to your name over a set threshold, you will be asked to contribute or pay in full for services. Many people choose to pay for care privately by directly arranging support with a professional care company or hiring their own help.

2. The common misconception: The council will meet all my care needs.

The truth: Many local authorities now provide care only to people who have a high level of care need. This is because in most areas demand for services outstrips the available supply and available tax payer funding to cover the costs for it.  inevitably this means that people with higher needs or those ho are in a more vulnerable position become the first priority. People with lower needs can still arrange any care they wish but these would have to be arranged privately rather than arranged through the council.  Don’t fret though, as your needs increase, you need not miss out on any free stuff!  You may wish to arrange for another assessment after a year or so and see if you can be eligible for again to tap into some council funding.  If you are eligible, at this point you can either simply continue with your private arrangements and access a direct payment to help pay for it or you can opt for the council service if it fits your needs.   It might be helpful to read our Guide to Accessing Free Personal Care to understand more about this.

3. The common misconception: The care profession is untrained and unskilled.

The truth: Caring is a highly skilled profession, although, unfortunately, due to market forces many care workers receive relatively low levels of pay. Providing care is a difficult, emotionally and physically challenging job and the sector is full of excellent care workers. Managers in care services are required to have specific qualifications before they are allowed to practice and most other workers need to have on-going training to develop their skills. It’s not all about paper qualifications however; the best care workers are those with high levels of ‘EQ’ also know as emotional intelligence – skilled in listening, engaging with older people and building relationships so that they understand their needs better and can provide tailored support.

4. The common misconception: I can ‘hide’ my assets from the local authority to avoid care fees in later life.

The truth:  This is not a good idea.  You might know someone who was ‘forced’ to sell their cherished family home to pay for care and this might have come as a shock to them!  Both staying in a nursing home or being cared for in your home is not free(with the exception of personal care) and needs to be paid for.  If someone has assets, like a family home, selling this property is often the easiest way to raise the money needed to cover the costs.  However, if someone has enough savings or other family members are happy to cover the costs there may be no need to sell the family home or other equity release schemes can be looked at.  This has always been the case – nothing has changed in recent years on this.  What has changed though is that people are living much longer so are needing so much more care in later life when previously they would not have made it into what we now call ‘old age’!  For most people, the value of their house will be taken into account if the council is arranging their care, hence why some might try to hide their assets by gifting them to children or placing them into trust years before they need care.  However, with local authorities being more cash strapped than ever they will now look several years back in someones financial past if they sense that someone may have deliberertly deprived themself of assets for the purpose of avoiding care fees.  If they think there is sufficient evidence for a case, they will likely pursue it in court as there could be several hundred thousands of pounds at stake.

The equity someone has in their home is not taken into account if there is a partner or dependent relative still living in the property.

This is complex area which needs a lot more explanation and advice.  We would encourage you to get in touch to find out more about this and we can help post you in the direction of the right professional advice.

5. The common misconception: There is no choice of services – you get what you’re given. 

The truth: This is generally true if you are dependant on the local authority for paying for your care.  You may have some influence of who provides the care but what support they provide for you will remain the same.  However, if you are choosing to make your own arrangements, like any private service one buys in life you can design services where you are placed at the centre of the care arrangements, with full choice and control about what services and support you have.  People who are eligible for free personal care can be allocated a ‘personal budget’ and can receive it as a cash payment.  This is sometimes referred to as ‘personalisation’. It means that individuals can work alongside care companies or other social work professionals to set up a care package that they are really happy with. However, you will almost always have to top up with your own money to truly get the perfect service for you.