Richard S.

69, Epsom

Richard visits his mother Pam in her nursing home every day and tells of the benefits he has claimed, including attendance allowance

"When she was 74, Mum moved into sheltered accommodation near us and that worked very well for about 15 years. Then she started to become less capable. I started to look into seeing what funding was available for alterations to her home like a raised toilet seat. That was difficult because I didn’t know who to go to. I’m quite experienced at online research, but I couldn’t find out.

It took quite a long time to find who I should speak to. I tried Surrey County Council, but they weren’t that helpful. Then I called in at the Town Hall and they put me in touch with the right person, and actually they were brilliant.

Finding a nursing home

I rang all the local nursing homes, asking about prices and so on. I only followed up those who told me their costs over the phone – the others will try the big sell once you are there. We found one that was really terrific. That was on the Thursday and she moved into a lovely room the following Wednesday!

It worked very well for the first 18 months in the residential wing. Then one night she went to the bathroom without her stick, fell over and broke her hip. She went into hospital for two weeks and deteriorated terribly, losing a lot of confidence, returning to the nursing wing in the same home. Her legs now can’t bear weight and she had already lost the use of her right hand. So now everything has to be done for her.

Cost of care

It now costs about £60,000 a year to keep her with everything she needs. Care home fees always sound very high, but they work out at about the same as a decent hotel. Her state pension brings in £6,000 a year, then a civil service pension from my dad brings in another £3,500, plus her investments have grown, so it’s surprising that her capital has decreased less than I thought it would.

"There is money available if you can find out how to claim it."

The care home sorted out NHS funded nursing care, which contributes about £110 a week. I found the meeting about it very helpful because it told me everything the home did – like turning her at night, helping with teeth and feeding.

Applying for attendance allowance

They also said, ‘Do apply for attendance allowance.’ I had heard about it before, had looked at the form and thought I can’t answer all this – it’s 32 pages long. You really have to psych yourself up to do it, because it’s pretty tough [at the foot of our page about attendance allowance, we give 10 top tips for completing the attendance allowance form]. But I answered all I could and then I asked the home to fill in details like how often is she turned at night and all those sorts of things. It took two months, but that got another £81.60 a week.
So in fact, the income from pensions, NHS funded nursing care and attendance allowance pays a good chunk towards total costs. There is money available if you can find out how to claim it."

More information

  • Sheltered housing: information on when sheltered housing, assisted living and extra care sheltered housing may be suitable for your relative.
  • Care homes: find out about the different types of care home and how to choose the most suitable home for your relative.

Page last reviewed: 31 March 2016
Next review due: 31 March 2017