When your elderly parents need care it can feel daunting as you have probably not had experience of the elderly care system before. Let me try and help you understand more about it by dispelling some of the myths that surround care for the elderly.

The state will fund my parents care and provide support to arrange it won’t they?

Older people will not receive any financial help or practical support  from Social Services if they;

  • Have savings, investments or assets (including their property) above the current limit of £23,250. ▪ Are considered to have enough income to pay for their own care.
  • Do not have high enough care needs to meet their tightened eligibility criteria.
  • Are able to arrange care and support  themselves or have a relative who is willing or able to do so on their behalf.

For those people who are eligible for social care funding, only their basic needs will be met and they may have to contribute towards the cost, in some cases quite significantly. If your parent is funding themselves in a residential home and their money runs out, Social Services has to take over funding their care fees. However, they may have to move into a smaller room in their care home or move to another home altogether if the home refuses to lower their fees to the maximum that Social Services are willing to pay.

While the eligibility for NHS Continuing Healthcare funding has always been restricted to those with the highest, most complex, unpredictable, and unstable health needs, the interpretation of the eligibility criteria has become tighter and the same applies to the Registered Nurse Care Contribution (RNCC).

Social Services will provide care at home for my parents if they need it

Social Services will only provide in-house care or commission agency care if your parent meets the criteria outlined above. Even if  they meet the criteria, most Local authority Social Services Departments will only fund personal care and will not help with daily living tasks such as housework, shopping and preparing food. Some authorities are stricter than others and it’s always worth checking first. It is also important to check whether your parent may be entitled to welfare benefits such as the Attendance Allowance which can be used to help pay for their care and support.

Social Services will take your parents home away to pay for their care?

This is not necessarily true. Property will not be taken into account for home care support or if the person going into care has a spouse or dependent relative living in the home.

Care provided by charities and not for profit organisations costs less than commercial ones?

This is not true. Businesses and not for profit organisations have to operate a business model and make a profit. The only difference is that that they use their profits to develop their services. In my experience some so called not for profit organisations can actually cost more, especially if they have a bureaucratic infrastructure.

If my parent’s are eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare (CHC) funding they will not have to pay for their care.

Also untrue. If your parent is awarded CHC funding they will be reviewed each year to see whether they have improved in any way and no longer meet the funding criteria. With painful funding cuts ongoing, sometimes NHS assessors interpret the national assessment tool differently so the person is no longer eligible for funding. If this ever happens to your elderly parent, there is an appeals process. While not for the faint hearted, because it is time consuming and log winded, it is usually worth doing as thousands of pounds can be reimbursed and saved if you eventually win.

The care landscape is changing rapidly and new legislation is on the way. As Social Services and the NHS seek new ways to meet the demands of the ageing population, having to do more with less will be their mantra and we will be expected to play an even bigger role in caring for our elderly loved ones. It is therefore vital that you understand and anticipate realistic funding entitlements to enable you to help your elderly parent plan their care. Check to see whether Social Services or the NHS might contribute towards the costs. Without this information you might make misguided decisions about your parents’ care and support and how to fund it. You can find out more at http://www.patient.co.uk/showdoc/3