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Everyone is different, needs vary from individual to individual, family to family. It isn't always easy to accept support and you may be surprised at how much help is available (some of it free) to avoid a crisis and support your independence.
Often it is with little time and no previous experience of the care and benefit system that you are looking for care and support for a loved one and it is important to consider all of the options, although if you are not sure what they are that is easier said than done.
Search for a member and ask for a FREE 'My Care Planner' booklet to help guide you through the care and benefit maze. If you are looking for care it is worth seeking advice to help save you time and maybe even money!
The Care Quality Commission website is also a useful resource as they are responsible for care standards and provide reports on their assessments of registered care providers.
The Local Authority can do an assessment of your care needs (FREE) and are often able to help with other services such prevention and support services that could include help with the garden, getting a pendant alarm or an advocate who may be able to do things like organise a tradesman, write a letter or ring a utility company…..
Find your Local Authority to request a Carers assessment
This is different to a care needs assessment as it looks at what care and support is being provided, by who and what support they may need to enable them to continue. It is especially valuable if for any reason the carer isn’t able to provide this whether temporarily for example a hospital stay or because you may need more help that they can manage.
Caring for Carers
Providing care can be both rewarding and challenging at the same time. Struggling with your own disability or trying to manage work and a family can pose additional problems and if it is a parent that you are looking after changing roles can be difficult. Looking after yourself can help you to look after your loved ones...
There are 5.4 million (probably more), unpaid or informal carers in England. For many people, looking after a loved one is part of day to day life but if you (or the person you are caring for) don't recognise the caring role it may mean that you are not getting any support, applying for Carer’s Allowance, or seeking advice with personal or financial implications. Request a care funding and benefit check here
The Local Authority can assess and support both people who need care and those who provide it. A carers assessment is different to a care needs assessment for the person who needs care. It considers what care and support is being provided, by whom and how the carer could be supported to enable them to continue providing the care and relieve any carer stress.
Services for people who are providing care can help to support them to be able to continue. These may be provided by a local organisation and/or by the Local Authority as a commissioned service or it could be a completely separate provision and managed by the carer themselves. These can include a break from a caring role or additional support for short or long term periods and may be a sitting service to give the carer a break or the chance to pursue a hobby or interest.
A Local Authority assessment is valuable if for any reason the carer isn’t able to provide the care whether it is for a short time for example a holiday, hospital stay or additional caring support to help a full time carer to be able to continue.
Care Options - Living at home
Care and support at home - Most people would like to stay at home for as long as possible but if care and support needs are ignored or left for too long this can lead to an urgent need and independence threatened.
It's true what they say, 'prevention is better than the cure'. Care and support doesn't have to be intrusive or specifically for personal care, you may just want companionship or a hot meal, some cleaning, shopping or gardening. Care needs may be temporary as things change and it may be worth reviewing care that is already in place to make sure that it is still appropriate for your needs.
Live in care - may suit your needs better than moving into a home or in with family. Please don’t wait or suffer in stoic silence, ask for help as it may enable you to stay at home for longer! If you would like to know what help is available to you or need help choosing the right support for you.
Extra care/assisted care/ shared lives/supported living/care villages - This option may provide independent living with varying care provision and some have on site or an on call warden. Schemes vary enormously and may be privately rented, shared or owned properties or possibly have a social landlord. Before moving into a 'forever home' be aware of any restrictions that you may have to move from later on if your care and support needs change.
'Shared Lives' - can provide an option for those who do not want to move into a care or nursing home but need some support. This means moving into someone else's home and can be wide ranging re care and type of accommodation. These schemes are not available in all areas and may be accessed through the Local Authority.
Moving into a Care Home
Many things can lead to a move into a care or nursing home. It may be that the intention is for a short term stay or period of respite and this may be exactly what is needed. Before moving into a permanent care setting the home must give you key information on it's charges and what happens if your money is likely to reduce. This may be the best or only option for many but a crisis point may not be the best time to make permanent decisions as needs may change and expert advice may be needed to ensure that you have considered all of your options and that your choice is appropriate and affordable in the longer term as 25% of people 'self-funding' care run out of money and a move later on may be avoided if the right care is chosen from the start.
Care homes can provide different levels of support and should be registered with the Care Quality Commission who are responsible for care standards and provide reports on assessed care providers. The Local Authority may also be able to help make sure that your care choices are appropriate to avoid a possible move later on.
Residential Homes - If you need more help with day to day care these homes have care assistants but don't often provide nursing care unless they have a dual registration for both Care and nursing provision.
Nursing Homes – If your needs include requirement for medical care then provision of nursing care by a registered nurse and a higher staff/resident ratio of a Nursing home may be a more suitable option.
EMI – This stands for Elderly Mentally Infirm which isn’t the nicest of terms but really means a more specialised need which may require a higher staffing to resident ratio and may also provide a more secure environment.
It is worth seeking advice for this type of care need and making sure that if you move into a ‘home’ that should more specialist care be needed at a later stage the chosen home can provide this as needs may change.
Specialist Care - There may be a need for a specific or specialist type of care. Whether this is due to a disability or illness, religious, cultural or complex need it may be that care providers may not be able to satisfy these requirements and a specific type of support or placement required.
If you are sure it is a care home you are looking for it may help to consider the key points in this choosing a care home checklist but if you aren't sure we can help you find, arrange and review care in place and make sure you can afford your care choices
Some things can be planned for and planning ahead can reduce additional worry and stress at a time of crisis. Financial and legal advice from someone who understands the later life care and benefit system is essential. It can save money and make sure that those caring for you take into account your wishes if they are having to make decisions in your best interests.
While you are able to manage your own affairs it is important to consider that in the future you may not be able to make arrangements or decisions for yourself (at any age) as an accident or illness can affect our ability to make decisions and may lead to someone else having to help or even make some decisions on your behalf in the future.
The ability to understand and make a decision when it needs to be made is called ‘mental capacity’. The Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) is a law that protects and supports those who can’t make some or all decisions for themselves. It has a ‘Code of Practice’ for those who are assessing someone’s capacity and supporting them to make decisions.
Have you thought about?
Who would manage your finances or health decisions if you are no longer able to?
Do you have an Enduring or Lasting Power of Attorney? Not sure what this means?
Have you made a will or set out your wishes for your care, property or family?
Please don’t assume, as many do, that if anything happens to you your partner/spouse/children will be able to ‘manage your affairs’ for you, they may not be allowed to if there is no legal provision in place.
Paying For Care
Choosing care can be hard enough without discovering at a later date that the cost is not what it seemed, has increased or is not affordable in the longer term. So, where do you start? The right care starts with the right advice.
People paying for their own care often make decisions with little time or previous knowledge of a complex 'system'. A few of the common questions are: Can I keep the house? Can I move or give my spouse or children my house or savings? What choices do I have? Should I be paying, is there any help? What if my money runs out?
Whether making plans to provide for a loved one or yourself, it is important for long term affordability, that you get the right advice before making life changing decisions.
A Care Funding and Benefit Check can help you to choose and arrange appropriate care, access support services and get the right assessments. They can help you to identify and claim your benefit entitlement and make sure that you aren’t paying more than you should be or can afford to for your care and support.
If you are not eligible for FREE NHS Continuing Healthcare funding, then you may have to pay for your care or contribute towards it as Adult Social Care isn't free. After you've had a care needs assessment from your Local Authority, they will do a financial means test to assess your income, savings and property to work out what will be disregarded and how much you have to pay for your care and support.
Currently the upper funding level in England is £23'250, if you have above this then you may be paying for your own care (remember it is an individuals needs being assessed and therefore an individuals ability to contribute - halve savings held jointly and often a property is disregarded from a means tested financial assessment).
Helping people to understand the financial implications of having care and support needs might include unregulated financial information and advice such as help with completing welfare benefit applications or money management/financial advocacy services but it may also require regulated financial advice for example considering Care Fee Annuities, property options and providing for loved ones or wealth/tax management.
CAN members offer a FREE 'My Care Planner' booklet to help guide you through the care and benefit maze. If you are looking for care it is worth seeking advice to help save you time and maybe even money.