Our Senior Customer Advisors have identified 20 of the most frequently asked questions on the subject of paying for care, and have provided initial answers we hope you may find helpful. They explain what our fees cover with regard to care types, accommodation and service, and detail the main options when it comes to budgeting, funding and planning for the future. Their answers also address points concerning Attendance Allowance, Funded Nursing Care, Continuing Health Care, Power of Attorney and situations where payment may be deferred. They also discuss local authority support and financial assessments.
A message from the team:
“We have produced this guidance based entirely on our experience of the issues people tend to bring up when they are considering a care home. We hope it is helpful and would urge people who want to discuss any aspects in further detail to contact us or, if they have chosen a particular home, to speak to the manager there.”
Click on the questions below to expand the answers. If you require any further information the teams in our homes will be only too pleased to help
- Q1. What do Colten Care fees cover?
A. Fees reflect our standards of individual care, accommodation and service. We continually invest in exceptionally beautiful, well-appointed homes and we only recruit and develop the most professional, dedicated and friendly team members. Our care home service offers a comfortable, homely and relaxed environment where home maintenance, laundry and cleaning are all taken care of on your behalf. We create interest and sociability through a full programme of activities and we prepare and serve the finest home-cooked food based entirely on your choices and dietary needs. If you receive nursing care from us, you can be reassured that our service harnesses best practice in clinical care with full respect for your dignity and privacy. We also provide specialist care for those living with dementia at six purpose-designed homes.
- Q2. What are the options when it comes to funding care?
A. Most residents pay their fees through a combination of pensions and investments. Some have their fees partly funded by an annuity. This is essentially an insurance policy to give peace of mind on future funding. A lump sum is paid up front which then guarantees a fixed amount per month for life, usually linked to an annual inflation increase. The insurer will assess the resident’s health needs and estimate their remaining life expectancy. This, in conjunction with the amount required each month, determines the sum paid up front. If the resident lives longer than the expected life expectancy then the annuity has paid for itself. If you are thinking about purchasing a care plan using a lump sum, perhaps funded through an equity release on the family home, we recommend you speak to a specialist Independent Financial Adviser (IFA). The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) authorises and registers firms and individuals who give financial advice. For more information, call the FCA on 0800 111 6768 (freephone) or 0300 500 8082, or visit www.fsa.gov.uk/register/home.do
- Q3. Can we receive any local authority support?
A. Local authorities will fund 12 weeks of care at the point when someone decides to sell their house. If there is shortfall because the authority rate is lower than the fee, then this is either made up by the resident or supported through our deferred fee scheme. Authorities can also offer their own deferred payment arrangements for care. In our experience, they can sometimes steer residents towards cheaper homes so funds last longer and there is less obligation on the authority. This is not necessarily in a resident’s best interests. Our Home Managers are happy to discuss further with you. From April 2015, local authorities must have a new deferred payment scheme in place that allows eligible people to take out a loan to help towards care costs that is secured against their house. For more information, we suggest contacting the authority that receives Council Tax for the property.
- Q4. Can we receive any state benefits to help with the cost?
A. Yes, many residents receive Attendance Allowance. To ensure you receive the right advice on eligibility and what to claim, we recommend you talk to Age UK on 0800 169 6565 or visit www.ageuk.org.uk. You can also speak with Citizens Advice on 03444 111 444 or visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk. Before paying any advisor in connection with benefit entitlement, we urge you to make sure they are qualified and registered with a body such as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Please see FCA contact details at Qu 2 above.
- Q5. Do we need to pay you a deposit or upfront payment to secure a room?
A. No, you only pay on admission for your actual stay. For respite or short-stay care, you pay for the actual number of nights you have booked. For longer stays, we charge by way of a four-weekly direct debit in advance. If you want to secure a specific room you would need to pay the weekly fee for the room.
- Q6. Do all residents pay the same fee?
A. No, it depends on the type of care – whether residential, nursing or assisted – and, in our older homes, the choice of room. We strive to ensure all bedrooms are beautifully appointed and have a pleasant outlook. The Home Manager can advise on individual room rates and, if a resident wishes to move to another room at a later date, whether the fee will alter.
- Q7. Is the fee negotiable?
A. Admissions are either at homes’ nursing or assisted care rates. This will be determined as part of the pre-admission assessment. A 5% discount is available for couples in residence at the same home at the same time although not necessarily sharing a bedroom. The discount applies to the highest fee only, not both fees. We also offer a 2.5% discount if fees are paid quarterly in advance.
- Q8. Can we defer payment?
A. Yes, we can help with that. We are used to situations where someone who needs care now has funds tied up in a property that still needs to be sold. We recognise that deferring payment can help families make the right choice about full-time care when it is needed. We can defer up to 80% of the fees provided the property is being sold on the market at a sensible price. We charge interest of 4% above base rate on outstanding fees to cover our costs and we require them to be settled on the sale of the property. In legal terms, we do not take a charge but instead register an interest. Please ask the Home Manager for more details.
Once the property is sold you may want to consider taking specialist financial advice from an IFA regarding the available options to fund the ongoing care fees.
- Q9. Does Colten Care take local authority-funded admissions?
A. We rarely take local authority-funded admissions, it depends on whether they will pay our fees. We are a private care home operator. Yes we do have a number of residents who have become ‘capital depleted’, i.e. their funds have fallen below the threshold that Local Authorities will then contribute to the cost of their care. These residents would receive a local authority contribution which is then topped up to the full fee, usually by the family.
- Q10. Do fees rise every year?
A. Yes, you need to factor that into your planning. We review fees every February in line with our costs. Increases take effect from the beginning of March and in the past few years have averaged from 3 to 5%. Fees will also rise if individual care needs change and a resident moves to either assisted or nursing care.
- Q11. Is there any financial help available as fees go up?
A. If a resident needs nursing care they may be eligible for a non-means tested payment towards our weekly fee. Funded Nursing Care is payable by the NHS for care led ‘by a registered nurse in providing, planning or supervising your care in a care home with nursing’. The weekly contribution for 2015 is £112. You can claim both Attendance Allowance for personal care and Funded Nursing Care for nursing if your needs are in both categories. The Home Manager can give details of how to claim and we can assist with this.
- Q12. How can we budget if we don’t know how long care will be needed?
Whilst no-one has a crystal ball we recognise that meeting the costs of care in later life is a growing issue for many people. We would strongly advise you to seek advice from an Independent Financial Advisor to establish how best to use the available assets to secure a sustainable income for the long term. Families tell us that the chance to discuss the long-term cost of care in advance is very beneficial to helping them plan. Before admitting any long-stay resident, our experienced Home Manager and team will work with you to complete a basic financial summary. They will spend time with you to look at the potential costs and how you can pay the fees in the months and years to come.
- Q13. How do I pay?
A. For all permanent residents we require payment by direct debit, which we can assist you with setting up. We send the invoice in advance so you can make arrangements for the funds to be available on the agreed collection date. The home will provide a schedule of the payment dates for the full year to help your budgeting.
For short stay residents we accept cheques - which should be made payable to Colten Care Ltd, card payments and bank transfers.
- Q14. What happens if we run out of money?
We require fees to be paid in full. If a resident runs out of money we will try and negotiate a fee with the local authority that is above their norm. This will help to reduce the top up requirement for the family.
- Q15. What happens if the resident’s spouse is still in the family home and we run out of money? Do they have to sell up?
A. As long as the spouse is living in the matrimonial home, it is not considered an asset of the care home resident. It is therefore excluded from the local authority financial assessment. If this establishes the resident is capital depleted (see Qn4), the local authority will then determine the level of fee it will pay. The difference up to our fee would then have to be covered by a top up, as per Qn 17. If however the spouse sells the home, moves out or dies then the local authority can class the resulting capital proceeds, asset or inheritance as the property of the resident. In that situation the local authority could no longer contribute to the care fee.
- Q16. Do you operate a notice period if I decide to leave?
For permanent residents, once you have settled-in we ask for 28 days’ written notice to enable us to offer the room to another resident. To help in the early settling-in period we ask for just seven days’ notice during the first six weeks. This is the time when we will be making sure we understand all your needs and special requirements.
- Q17. What happens if we miss a payment?
A. If you are experiencing financial difficulties, please speak to the Home Manager to discuss your circumstances. If you are funding your fees from savings or investments as you await the sale of your property, talk to us before your funds are completely exhausted. We may be able to offer a deferment payment scheme to help. Please see Qu 8 above.
- Q18. Do I need a Power of Attorney?
A. If a resident does not have mental capacity then they are unable to make decisions for themselves. For either a relative or third party to be able to do this on their behalf a registered Power of Attorney (PoA) is required. Agreeing a PoA in advance is a simple task that can help to relieve stress and be a prudent and important way to avoid a court process. There are two types of Lasting PoAs: financial; and health and well-being. We have also produced our own PoA document for further guidance. This is available online at [link]. Alternatively, the home can provide a copy on request.
For more information on Lasting PoAs, call the Office of the Public Guardian on 0845 330 2900 or visit www.publicguardian.gov.uk.
- Q19. My relative cannot manage at home any longer and needs nursing care. Will the NHS pay all the care home fees so they don’t have to sell their house?
A. If a person has complex health needs they may qualify for Continuing HealthCare funded by the NHS. A Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) makes the decision based on an assessment by a community health professional. Our Home Manager is well qualified to explain the process in more detail. We will need our fees paid in full while any decision is being considered by the CCG. If your relative does not meet the criteria and is therefore not eligible for the funding you will need to decide how to fund their care in the long term. You should also be aware that CHC is not necessarily permanent once awarded. It is regularly assessed and can be withdrawn if care needs reduce. In situations which are not obviously about end of life, relatives must consider the ability to fund care in the event CHC is withdrawn. Please note also that if the CHC fee is below our nursing fee, we would look for a top up.
- Q20. My relative is in a care home and has become eligible for Continuing HealthCare. The CCG says the fees charged are more than they would usually pay, and has proposed a move to a different home. I think a move will have a negative effect on my relative. What can we do?
A. If there is evidence that a move is likely to have a significantly detrimental effect on your relative's health or wellbeing, you should discuss this with the CCG who will take your concerns into account when considering the most appropriate arrangements. If the CCG decides to arrange an alternative placement, they should make efforts to provide a reasonable choice of homes. They will only look at what is in the resident’s best interest and not the relatives. We will work with the relatives to help argue the case to stay. Some CCGs allow for a top up payment to be made by the resident/family in recognition of the ‘hotel service’ element of the care provided. It would be worth you raising this with your CCG, which the Home Manage can assist you with.
For more information on any aspect of paying for care, please speak to the Home Manager.