In Richard S’s words…
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, so I began to look into seeing what funding was available for alterations to her home, such as a raised toilet seat. That was difficult because I didn’t know who to go to.
It took quite a long time to find who I should speak to. I tried Surrey County Council, but it wasn’t that helpful. Then I called in at the town hall and it finally put me in touch with the right person, and actually it was brilliant. I started looking for a care home rather than making alterations to Mum's home.
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 as the others will try the big sell once you’re 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. She had already lost the use of her right hand, but now her legs can’t bear any weight, so everything has to be done for her.
NHS-funded Nursing Care
It 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 £165 a week*. I found the meeting about it very helpful because it told me everything the home did, such as turning her at night, helping with cleaning her teeth and feeding herself.
Applying for Attendance Allowance
They also told me to 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. But I answered all I could and then I asked the home to fill in details, such as how often she is turned at night and all those sorts of things. It took two months, but that brought in another weekly sum.
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.”
*NHS-funded nursing care is worth £183.92 a week in 2020-21
Read about the benefits available in later life: Attendance Allowance, PIP, Winter Fuel Payment and more.
We explain how to cover the costs of a care home if you are a self-funder, and what happens if your money runs out.
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