How is care at home paid for?
Care at home is paid for in the following ways in the UK:
- Local authority funding: the local council funds some or all of the care.
- Self-funding: the person being cared for (or their family) pays all the costs for their care
- NHS funding: the NHS will cover some or all of the care costs in certain circumstances.
Not sure if home care is the right option? Read about the pros and cons of care at home:
When will the local authority pay for home care?
To decide if you are eligible for support for care, the local authority will first carry out a free needs assessment.
If you’re assessed as having ‘eligible needs’, the council will then carry out a financial assessment to work out how much you should contribute to the cost of your care. There are thresholds for savings and assets, above which you will need to pay for your own care.
The upper limits in 2020-21 are:
- England: £23,250
- Wales: £24,000
- Northern Ireland and Scotland: personal care is free to those who have been assessed by their local authority as needing it. There is no means test for personal care at home.
If you qualify for local authority funding for care at home, you may be offered a personal budget. This is the amount of money allocated by the council towards your care costs; it enables you to make choices about your own care arrangements.
Read more about council funding for home care and how the financial assessment works across the UK in our guide to local authority funding for home care.
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Self-funding care at home
You’ll have to pay for your own care at home:
if you have savings and assets in excess of the capital limits for care (excluding the value of your home)
- or if your needs weren’t found to be sufficient following a needs assessment.
Even if you don’t qualify for financial support, it’s still a good idea to get a needs assessment done.
This is worthwhile for a number of reasons:
- The assessment will provide a formal recognition of your needs.
- The council will give you information about the range of services available to meet your needs.
- Even if you aren’t eligible for funding, you can still ask the local authority to arrange care services for you (although you would be charged the full price of the care).
- The assessment will be important if your needs should change in the future.
There are several ways that you might raise money to help pay for your care:
Income from pensions, work, investments or property.
Attendance Allowance, which isn’t means-tested.
- Financial help from family or friends.
You might also want to consider:
- Equity release: if you own your home, you might be able to use an equity release scheme to ‘unlock’ cash from the value of your property.
- Downsizing: selling your current home and buying a smaller one could give you a lump sum to help pay for care.
- Letting a room: if you have enough space, you might consider letting a room to a lodger. This can help raise extra money without the need to move house.
Whichever option you consider, seek advice from a specialist accredited later life adviser who is a fully listed member of the Society of Later Life Advisers (SOLLA). For more guidance on finding an IFA, see how to find a financial adviser on the Which? Money website.
When will the NHS cover the cost of care at home?
The NHS will pay all care costs at home under certain circumstances. NHS Continuing Healthcare funds people who need ongoing health care outside of hospital if they have complex medical care needs due to disability, accident or a major illness. This funding isn’t means tested.
After a short illness or hospital stay, you may be eligible for up to six weeks of free support. This is called NHS Intermediate Care - our guide explains who's eligible and what it entails.
Home care fees can vary according to where you live in the UK and the type of care you need.
If you are eligible, government funding for home care may be available. We explain the means test and other rules.
The financial assessment undertaken by local authorities is governed by strict guidelines. We give you an overview of ...