1 How do I get funding for a care home?

If your relative is assessed as needing care and wants to apply for financial help, the local authority will carry out a financial assessment (also known as a ‘means test’) of your relative’s income, savings and assets to decide how much help they can give.

However, local authorities only have a responsibility to:

  • arrange residential care for everyone who is assessed as needing it and if they are unable to make their own arrangements.
  • contribute to the cost of care for people who fit their eligibility criteria (in the form of the needs assessment) and cannot afford to fund themselves.

So, regardless of your relative’s financial situation, if you think they need care in a residential or nursing care home, take the following steps.

1. Get a needs assessment 

You will get this from the social services department of the local authority. To find your relative's local authority, enter their postcode in our Care services directory and use the drop-down window for Local authority services.

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Local authorities have a legal duty to carry out a needs assessment of anyone that they think might be eligible for local authority care. This gives a professional assessment of the type of care that your relative needs in the form of a written care plan.

2. Read the care plan

In the case of residential care, the care plan might recommend that your relative needs personal care, nursing care or a specialist home, for example for people with dementia. Or the care plan might suggest alternatives to residential care. It may be that your relative’s needs can be met at home – with Domiciliary Care or through Sheltered housing.

  • For more details about choosing a care home – the types available, what to look for and standards to expect – see Care homes.

3. Prepare for a financial assessment

The financial assessment looks at your relative’s capital (savings and assets) and income to determine how much the local authority needs to contribute to the cost of their care. Your relative will need to have this done to find out if they are eligible for any help.

There are some specific rules that apply to funding for care homes. The rules are quite complex, but we explain them fully in the following steps so that you know what to expect.

You don’t have to do a financial assessment

There is no obligation to do a financial assessment – for example, your relative may already know they won’t qualify because they own a house and no one is living there, so their assets are more than likely to be considerably over the threshold. However, if they are unsure whether they will qualify or not, it is a good idea to do the financial assessment because it can give your relative a better idea of when they may become eligible in the future.

In Wales, if both individuals in a couple are eligible for an assessment, they can choose whether to have a joint assessment or an individual assessment.