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Date: November 25, 2020
Taking place on Thursday 26 November, Carers Rights Day brings together organisations from across the UK to reach out to carers with information, advice, and support. This year’s theme is Know Your Rights.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every aspect of caring, affecting carers’ access to support and services, and their physical and mental health. Many are caring for the first time, while those who have been caring for a while are facing greater challenges and pressures than ever before. It has never been more important for carers to be informed and know their rights.
Whether you are a new carer or have been caring for someone for a while, Bridgewater Home Care believe that it’s important that you understand your rights and can access the support that is available to you as soon as you need it.
Funding Your Private Home Care Services
We are often asked by families who first approach us about private care at home for a loved one if they will be able to get any financial help towards the cost of the home care services, they require. Many of our clients pay for their services using their own financial means. More often, though, people start paying for home care using their income and savings because they are simply unaware of any funding assistance available to them.
As a carer, you may be entitled to a range of benefits, some of which will depend upon the amount of your income and the essential expenses that you have. If you care for another person, you can ask your local council to assess your needs to find out if you are eligible for support. Both you and the person you care for can get assessments. This may result in help and support being provided to you as a carer and/or to the person you are looking after.
You can have an assessment no matter what your level of need, the amount of care you provide or your financial means. Your carer’s assessment should cover:
Following the assessment, the local authority or NHS will decide if you are eligible for support. This can be provided either to you or to the person you are looking after to reduce the impact of caring on you.
Support could be provided by the local authority, or in the form of a direct payment or personal health budget.
You can find out more about the Carer’s Assessment on the NHS website: Carer’s assessments – NHS (www.nhs.uk)
If the person you are looking after is an adult and appears to need support, they should be offered a needs assessment by their local authority. Local authorities have a duty to assess the needs of anyone they think might need support. This is regardless of their income or financial position. Their care needs should be reviewed first, and the assessment will look at all aspects of their life which will include their physical and mental health and general wellbeing.
If at least one of these needs meet the eligibility criteria a care plan is then agreed with them on the type of care and support that would best meet those needs.
Carers UK has a factsheet that you can download and lots of other useful information on their website about Local Authority Need’s Assessments: https://www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice/practical-support/getting-care-and-support/needs-assessment
The Money Advice Service also has a wealth of helpful in-depth information about this subject: How a local authority care needs assessment works – Money Advice Service
Financial Assessment by the Local Authority
If you qualify for help, your local authority will carry out a financial assessment. This is called a ‘means test’. It helps to work out how much you should pay towards the cost of your care. The outcome of a financial assessment will be that the local authority will either:
You will get a statement called a ‘personal budget’ that sets out the cost of the care, the amount you must pay and how much the local authority will pay.
However, this is not the only option. You can take full control of your care whilst receiving financial support from the Local Authority through a Direct Payment.
Deciding who manages your personal care budget
If you qualify for financial help, you can:
If you opt for direct payments, you can ask someone else to manage your budget and organise services for you. This could be a family member, friend, care professional or an independent advocate. You’ll need to set up a trust for payments that are managed by someone else.
Receiving direct payments can give you more flexibility. You can choose who delivers the care services that you need, and when. The local authority has to be satisfied that the payments are going towards the care services agreed in your care plan. Most councils will ask for evidence of how you’ve spent your money every 3 months.
If you are already in receipt of care services, ask your local authority about direct payments.
If you are applying for care services for the first time, your social worker should discuss the direct payments option with you when they assess your care needs.
Age UK have a detailed fact sheet on personal budgets and direct payments in social care that was published in November 2020: Personal budgets and direct payments in social care (ageuk.org.uk)
Read Chris’s story about arranging home care for his mum and learning about the various benefits that are available in later life.
Other Non-means-tested benefits
Even if you have to pay for care you may still be entitled to claim some benefits. These two benefits are not means-tested, so you could get them if your health needs are great enough regardless of your income and savings:
There are other benefits that you may also be able to claim depending on your circumstances.
If you require further information about the costs of private home care services with Bridgewater Home Care and to discuss yours or your loved one’s individual circumstances in confidence, then please feel free to call us on 0800 335 7888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.