The Care Needs Assessment (Section 47 Assessment)
To have your care needs assessed you must contact Adult Social Services at your local authority either directly or via your GP or other relevant health professional. This is the first step to choosing and funding your care, whether or not you need local authority funding.
A home visit can be arranged to undertake the assessment, which results in a report being produced as to your "assessed need". Your GP and any other relevant health professional that you have dealt with may also be contacted for information. It is a good idea to have a family member or close friend to be present during the assessment.
The report will underline the services or care that your needs require. The assessment also opens a file at Social Services, which may be useful if you need their help or local authority funding in the future.
The assessment may suggest ways of organising yourself so that a move to a care home can be avoided. It may include or recommend:
Support available for you in your own home such as day care, live-in care, respite and the use of equipment or adaptations to your home to allow you to remain there.
A move to more suitable accommodation, such as sheltered housing.
A move to another private household, such as living with relatives.
Residential or nursing care.
Long stay care in hospital.
The Financial Assessment (Means Test)
Once your local authority or trust has carried out your care needs assessment and worked out what care services you need, they’ll carry out a financial assessment. This is called a ‘means test’.
This will work out if you need to contribute towards the cost of your care, and whether the local authority will pay for all or some of your care costs.
The means test looks at:
your regular income – such as pensions, benefits or earnings
your capital – such as cash savings and investments, land and property (including overseas property), and business assets
If your income and capital are above £23,250 (in England) you will have to pay towards the costs of your care in full. There are different levels for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
If your income and capital are below this level then the local authority will start to help with the cost of your care.
If you’re a home owner
If you own your home, the value of it may be counted as capital after 12 weeks if you move permanently into a residential care or nursing home.
However, your home won’t be counted as capital if certain people still live there. They include:
your husband, wife, partner or civil partner
a close relative who is 60 or over, or incapacitated
a close relative under the age of 16 who you’re legally liable to support
your ex-husband, ex-wife, ex-civil partner or ex-partner if they are a lone parent
Your local authority or trust might choose not to count your home as capital in other circumstances, for example if your carer lives there.
Deliberate Deprivation of Assets
In order to protect their assets it has been known for a person to transfer money, investments or a property’s title deeds to someone else, such as a family member, so they can fall below the threshold and avoid paying the full cost of their care.
This is called deprivation of assets.
However, doing this doesn’t necessarily mean that those assets won’t be taken into account in a means test and it has led to local authorities becoming more vigilant in scouring the financial history of claimants.
If you have savings and capital and you want to work out the best way of paying for care, you should get advice from an independent financial adviser. Contact us.