5 Common Misconceptions and Myths about care

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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. Speak to BrightCare about our private home care services.

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

The truth: Many local authorities now only provide care to those who have a high need level. 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 who 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. Alternatively, 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’. This ’emotional intelligence’ means 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 home care services are not free (with the exception of personal care).  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 is no need to sell the family home. Further, you can also look into other equity release schemes.

This has always been the case. However,  people live much longer now so need more care when they reach ‘old age’!  For most people, the value of their house will be taken into account if the council is arranging their care. Hence, some might try to hide their assets by gifting them to children or placing them into trust years before they need care. However, local authorities will now look several years back in someone’s financial past if they sense that someone may have deliberately deprived themselves 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 dependent on the local authority for care payments.  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. This means 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 agencie 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.

About Us

Bright Care is a family-founded business providing care and companionship to the elderly in the peaceful comfort of their own home. Get in touch to talk to our dedicated care team and discover what’s possible for elderly loved ones.  

5 Tips For Planning Financially For Long Term Care

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1. Know the real costs and what you might be able to get state help with.

Before you start speaking to providers of care services it is helpful to have a general understanding of what care usually costs and what parts you can sometimes get for free. Check out our home care costs here. Remember the family solicitor or financial adviser will not always know the answers to this question.

The ‘all care is free’ idea is a myth inadvertently perpetrated by the media and the government which is highly misleading to so many families – indeed this is the number one frustration we encounter when working with families.

Generalising to keep things simple:

Care homes

Cost around £800 – £2000 per week. Care homes vary in price depending on quality and location.  At the higher end would typically be a care home which only accepts self-funding clients and does not sell any of its rooms to local authorities.

The costs associated with care home should be split into 3 categories:
  • The hotel costs (around 70% of the costs). These costs are only paid by the local authority if the resident has assets less than £26,000. As such, these days that does not apply to very many people, particularly if they own their own house.
  • The personal care (around 20% of the costs). In Scotland, these costs are always paid for by the local authority regardless of someone’s wealth. These costs are not paid for in England though, hence the political calls for ‘capping care fees’.
  • The nursing care (10% of the costs). This is paid for through the NHS budget and covers the medical components of care like injections, administration of medications and care aspects requiring fully qualified nurses.

If the state is paying for your care, you will have to accept whatever they provide. If you are self-funding then there is a whole world of options out there. Never let anyone tell you what you can and cannot have when you are paying for it yourself.

Care at Home

Cost around £20 – £30 per hour (depending on need)

The costs associated with care at home is also more easily understood if split into two categories:
  • The personal care (around 25% of the costs). The costs connected to this aspect of care at home can sometimes be reclaimed from the local authority in the form of the direct payment or you can opt for the council to deliver this service to you. Personal care includes help getting washed and dressed and basic medication support.
  • The socialisation, getting out and about and household tasks (75% of the costs). Most often this is the part that family and friends take care of, but for someone who does not have loved ones able to assist in these areas, they may need a lot of support. This area is vital when it comes to caring for those with Dementia.

The costs associated with care at home are so variable as you only need to pay for what you need.

2. Consider using a family solicitor to be appointed to take care of your affairs

Given the serious costs associated with good quality care arrangements, money can start driving a wedge between family members and become a motivator in decisions. Disagreements can also occur if one family member feels they are taking on more of the burden or responsibility for the care of a loved one and its impact on them both emotionally and financially much more than others. It has never ceased to amaze us how so often the challenges of caring for older people can be multiplied by families inability to agree on things and how the elderly client’s wishes. Who should be at the centre of all care arrangements can be sidelined!

As such, people should write out a clear will and requests about how they wish to be cared for as early as possible. The responsibility for actioning this should be placed on a neutral and emotionally detached solicitor who will act only on the requests and in the interest of the elderly client.

3. Be wary of care bonds and insurance policies

In our view, the financial services industry has not yet fully understood and looked to build products that can address the financial implications of care fees in later life. There are some products on the market like long term care insurance policies that guarantee a payout after a period of time and effectively limit the amount you would ever have to pay. But as with all insurance policies, getting them to actually pay out can be a mission. It’s like gambling and we all know the casino always wins. Remember lots of older people don’t need any care or support at all ever. You might not quite feel you got your monies worth out of a policy if you were paying into it for 30 years and never got to claim against it.

We would encourage, where possible, families to invest long term in methods which give them full control over funds and how they are used. The watchword here though is ‘long term’!

4. Be wary of ‘Deprivation of Asset’ schemes

Depriving yourself of assets is when you try to gift your estate to your children in order to make yourself appear below the threshold for statutory assistance for care fees. Some may put all their assets into a trust which is protected from a financial assessment. In our view, such moves are a grave mistake, for two main reasons.

Firstly, if you appear to have no money, your care arrangements will be at the mercy of the state. All choice and control are removed and you certainly will not be able to stay in your own home – you will be sent off to a care home of the councils choosing if your needs determine this.

Secondly, local authorities are wise to these actions. If they think they can prove you have deliberately hidden your assets, they will take you to court and sometimes court cases to recoup fees can rumble on even long after someone has died. Expect this to happen a lot more over the next 30 years. Local councils are having their budgets for social care cut all the time and there is more and more elderly people needed cared for. Given the challenges in social care that are upon us for the foreseeable future, one can sympathize with this approach from local authorities.

5. Consult a specialist elderly affairs financial adviser

If you are serious about long term care planning you need to lay out your entire financial situation on the table and analyse how it will shape up over the next 30 years. This includes every need, wish and want you have – even the bucket list!

You’re not obliged to get professional advice when choosing how to finance your long-term care, but in most cases, it’s crucial to do so.

A specialist care fees adviser is recommended. They have a better understanding of the care sector and the associated costs.

A specialist care fees adviser will help you to compare all your options before deciding which one’s right for you. They will also be able to explain all the costs and risks involved with each product. They should be able to help with other things too, like arranging your will or a power of attorney.  We have built up very good quality working relationships with a small handful of high-quality local professionals.  If you would like a local recommendation on a suitable advisor please get in touch.

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