The price we have to pay for social care

The price we have to pay for social care 2018-01-09T09:38:10+00:00

None of us want to talk about getting old. Consequently, none of us enjoy the prospect of contemplating our long term care needs, in the event that we are not fortunate enough to remain fully mobile and wholly self-sufficient for the remainder of our lives.

Yet, that prospect does not necessarily mean we will need to enter a residential care home and the vast majority of people manage to maintain relative independence by arranging for care within their own home, or do not require any sort of professional care at all.

One in six people over 80 in the UK will actually get dementia, meaning five in every six can realistically entertain the prospect of managing ‘at home’. However, if you become frail, some form of assistance at home for things as simple as getting up in the morning, bathing and getting dressed could prove invaluable. One hourly visit per day may suffice. However, for those with considerably reduced mobility, help may be required across two or three separate visits per day and extend to a range of other assisted activities.

The cost of care

Although not nearly as expensive as full-time residential care (which is typically in the region of £35,000 per annum and upwards, if you can afford the luxury of choosing where you would like to stay) the alternative cost of employing private care agencies within your own home is still more expensive than one might imagine. Reputable agencies typically charge £18.00 – £20.00 per hour (although less than two thirds of that will go to the carers themselves) with additional premiums payable at weekends and during bank holidays.

Therefore, it is entirely possible that someone requiring perhaps two visits per day could easily find themselves paying out at least £15,000 during the course of twelve months. Whilst this is less than half the cost of residential care, it is not an insignificant sum, especially over a period of several years, and will need to be paid on top of all your other ‘normal’ costs of living.

The government’s position

The current line of government thinking is that, subject to a floor of £100,000 which we are all allowed to keep, everyone should pay for their own care using their savings and assets, which will generally include their house. Of course, this may be universally unpopular, but is probably realistic if the Country is not to bankrupt itself.

One blessing in this connection is that many councils now allow you to defer payment by not having to sell your home until after your death, effectively a form of equity release. Ironically, there aren’t many problems to which ever-increasing house prices are an obvious answer, but financing social care has arguably turned out to be one of them.

One option which can work out less expensive than using private care agencies is to retain a personal care assistant via a direct arrangement. This also increases the likelihood of continuity, familiarity and forming a worthwhile relationship. However, you have to consider what happens when your assistant is off sick or on holiday and you will also have to take on certain legal responsibilities that come with being their employer.

 Plan ahead

So, if you are retired (or nearing retirement) planning ahead for these eventualities is something you might wish to consider. Remember, your local authority will not fund this type of care, unless you needs are clearly established and you only have extremely modest savings. Their assessment of your circumstances can also be fiendishly complicated.

Those who worry about what might be left for their children should bear in mind that whilst £100,000 may not seem much, it is still a substantial amount for most young people, especially when falling into their bank account for very little effort on their part. That said, you are also advised to read our article on Wills and Inheritance Tax (here) as there are ways and means of gifting money before your death.

We hope this article has given you food for thought. However, everyone’s circumstances are particular to them and you should always consider taking professional advice when appropriate. Meanwhile, please feel free to contact us for further ‘general’ advice on this important topic.