How will the Care Act 2014 affect me and my home care?

Home Care Assistant Holding Client's Hand

It’s a question many of our clients have been asking. The Care Act is probably the most comprehensive reform of the care sector since the formation of the NHS. It’s a big bit of legislation so we won’t cover all of it, but here’s a summary of how some of the key parts may affect you.

Means Test

The amount of assets that people can have before they have to pay for their care is being raised from £23,250 to about £118,000. This does include property, so that means if you are lucky to live on the South Coast, where we’re based, and own your own home, you are still likely to be over this threshold.

Care Cap

The Government has planned a cap of £72,000 on the amount you’ll need to pay for care. This means that if you need more than £72,000 worth of care during your lifetime, after you reach £72,000, it will be provided free of charge by your local authority.

This will, it’s calculated, help 16% of those needing care, who used to face a potentially unlimited bill. There is however some small-print to bear in mind:

Hotel Costs

The cap doesn’t include ‘hotel costs’ of care homes. This means that the care home bill is split into care costs and lodging and board, which will account for £12,000 annually. This means that even after you hit the cap, you’ll still need to pay £12,000 a year, and only the care element of the bill counts towards the cap. All domiciliary care costs are covered.

Eligibility

The Local Authority decides if you are eligible. You need ‘substantial’ or ‘critical’ care needs for your care to qualify towards the cap. In a discussion document we have found, an adult will meet the criteria if they are:

  1. Unable to carry out one or more basic personal care activities and as a consequence there is a risk to well-being;
  2. Unable to carry out basic household activities and as a consequence there is a risk to well-being;
  3. Unable to access necessary facilities or services in the local community and as a consequence there is a risk to well-being.

People are regarded as unable if they are a) unable, b) able but doing so causes significant pain, distress and anxiety, c) in danger doing so. There are another four eligibility criteria, so follow the link above for a full list. (This list is on page 15 and 16.) This is liable to change before it is fully implemented, but will be along similar lines.

This is also national minimum criteria, so people are less exposed to a ‘post-code lottery’ and Local Authorities changing the criteria, leaving people without appropriate care.

Assessed, not Actual Costs…

The local authority calculates the cost not on the actual cost of the care to yourself, but what the local authority would have paid to meet your needs, through a personal budget. They have their own ways of working this out.

This means that even if you spend over £90,000 worth of care with a particularly expensive care provider (subtracting any hotel costs etc), you may not necessarily have reached the cap, depending on how this compares with your personal budget. It would also mean that after you have reached the cap, you will have to ‘top up’ your personal budget to be able to stick with this provider, if it costs more than your needs are assessed to require.

For more information, have a look at the links below:

http://www.whentheygetolder.co.uk/how-does-the-care-cap-work/

https://fullfact.org/factchecks/coalition_plans_dilnot_social_care_cap-28761

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/care-bill-becomes-care-act-2014

http://www.payingforcare.org/care-cap-calculator