There has been a fairly steady rise in the number of care facilities that span across the UK. This is due in large part for the need to rise up and meet the increasing demand for adult social care and long term care needs. Today, thousands of elderly people across the UK reside in residential care homes. The biggest component of long term care costs is usually the care home fees. For those who find out that they need long term care or that their loved one needs care, there can be a number of questions that need answering. For example, who pays the care home fees and who is entitled to funding from the state?

The fees associated with residing in a care home really depend on a number of factors – including the location of the care facility and the type of care that is offered at the facility. The range in cost can be quite wide and care home fees could range anywhere from £300 a week to £700 per week for residential care homes. For nursing care home homes, the cost per week can range anywhere from £500 to £1100. These costs usually include rent, caregiver’s fees, and food. Any additional personal expenses are not included. Also, special care requirements will generally increase the cost of care. So, if there is anything unique or individualized that is needed by the patient, the cost will rise accordingly.

The state provides funding for adult social care but in order to qualify, a means test must be performed first. That means test assesses your income and capital and works out whether or not you are entitled to receive financial help. This assessment also decides if you will be required to contribute to the overall costs and if so, at what amount.

Currently the higher threshold for the means test is £23,250. Individuals with a combined income and capital above this limit are not entitled to any financial assistance with their costs. You can find more details about what the means test does and does not consider in its assessment from the social services department. You can also find detailed online resources about the means test and how assets are considered – particularly from charities such as Age UK. However, if you are found to have available capital and income that exceed this amount, you can expect that you will be forced to self-fund your care.

Next, the NHS provides a continuing healthcare service that is based on a needs test. The comprehensive needs test assesses whether an individual’s needs are primarily related to their health. If you are eligible to receive it, continuing healthcare covers costs of care irrespective of your financial situation. It is also possible to receive a combination care package wherein different agencies work together to meet the costs of treating your needs. Depending on how much you are eligible to receive, you contribute in full or part towards your care. If the council or the NHS is paying the fees for your care home, and you choose to live in a care facility that costs more than the amount you are allocated, you are expected to ‘top up’ the difference in costs. That means that you are required to bridge the gap between the financial assistance you receive and the actual cost of your care.

Long term care costs are potentially indefinite – and this means that those self-funding their care could end up losing their entire life savings to pay for long term care. There are payment solutions such as care plans and care annuities designed to pay for long term care. Care plans can be a good way to protect your savings from running dry by insuring for future cost of care by investing a lump sum. It is imperative to learn every option available to you long before you ever need long term care. Being proactive is perhaps the best plan for making sure that you are able to protect your assets and life savings. Once you know that you need care, it may be too long to put the best action plan in place. That is why it is so important to learn about all of the assistance that may be available to you and then to plan accordingly. The cost of long term care, and the cost of care homes, will most likely do nothing but increase. Speaking with a financial adviser and ensuring that you are prepared for any costs that might come your way is the best way to plan for the costs you can incur should you need long term care.