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Care Costs and the care cap

Concerned about cost of careDoes the Cap mean that elderly people in England will not pay more than £75,000 for long-term social care after 2017 ?

Well, it’s complicated! Eligibility and funding changes accompany the cap. Furthermore,  the £75,000 cap will not include ‘hotel’ costs (food and accommodation) which make up two thirds of the total cost of residential care for the elderly.

So what do the Social Care Cap  announcements really mean?

It won’t be a surprise if I say it’s complicated – after-all when has social care been anything but. In fact it’s easier to begin by saying what it’s not.

•It’s not a panacea for the care crisis

•It’s not a commitment by government to fund care for everyone.

At best it’s an attempt to encourage the financial sector to come up with a way for us to insure ourselves against potential care costs. At the moment there are no products on the market that allow for forward planning.

At worst it’s another example of the failure of successive governments to “fess up” to the fact that they do not, and will not pay for care for our increasing and ageing population.

The 1 in 10 living longer, needing more care

The fact is that most of us live in hope that we will have a long healthy life, and if we think of the inevitable at all, imagine ourselves going quickly, at home, after a fatal heart attack or similarly swift end. The good-ish news is that for 25% of us this might just happen.

However, for 1 in 10 of us it is likely to be just the opposite. If we are unlucky enough to be “one”, we can expect to spend a significant number of years needing care and support, and will probably end our days in residential care, facing costs in excess of £100,000.

The care cap is an attempt to limit the so called “catastrophic” care costs of this group in particular. As it stands at the moment, with no limits to the amounts people may have to pay, those worst affected face the prospect of losing everything they have saved throughout their lives, including their homes.

 With a “cap” the loss is limited to £75,000, or is it?

Well no, not quite;

The cap is only in place for care costs: It does not cover “hotel” costs (food accommodation etc). estimated as making up two thirds of the total cost of residential care

Care costs covered are only those assessed as eligible by the Local Authority: Local Authority eligibility thresholds only kick in when individuals are seriously at risk, with mobility and capacity levels that will already have significantly reduced their quality of life. The money spent on care, housing, domestic and support services needed to remain healthy and independent for longer, particularly as we get older and frailer, will not be included.

Care costs will be pegged at the amount that the LA would have paid and not at the actual amount of money spent, this could be approximately 25% less than the ‘fair market price’ range

 Sample care costs with the care cap

By way of an example someone funding their own care would need to spend at least £100,000 before the cap kicked in. This is approximate to 15 years of homecare at 1 hour a day 7 days a week, or 4 years of residential care in a reasonably priced establishment. And even once the cap kicks in we will still need to pay for the “Hotel” and other costs in excess of the LA rates, from our own resources.

And what about the rest of us who will not go quickly or fade quietly? Well not much will change, apart from the bureaucracy that is. We will still need to fund the vast majority of our own care from our savings with little or no financial or practical support from the state, excepting the poorest in society. The main difference is that to benefit at all from the cap, however far in the future that may be, we will need to comply with annual need and financial assessments!

 The Care Cap – in a nutshell

What it means is that each and every one of us will still need to spend our care money wisely if we are to maintain our quality of life and remain independent for longer. The cap may be a step in the right direction for some, but it’s a very small step and most of us have great strides to take, right here, right now….

If you would like to read more about the care cap try Mithram Samuels Community Care Adult Care Blog or look up read James Lloyd’s article in Public Finance “Care Funding- Read the Small print”

Gail Heath, Director. Owncare Ltd. www.owncare.co.uk 14th Feb 2013

Find out more

Care Costs cap ‘will cause disputes’ on bbc.co.uk 19 March 2013 (new window)

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