How to prepare for your care in retirement
Guest blogger Jonathan Bruce of Prestige Nursing & Care looks at the care home crisis, and how to prepare.
By 2034, 23% of the population is expected to be over 65 according to the Office for National Statistics, putting significant pressure on already squeezed public resources.
The Government response to this care time-bomb was to set up the Dilnot Commission, which is tasked with overhauling the current means-tested system and is due to report on its findings in early July. Its recommendations are likely to include a range of measures in answer to this problem, including a nominal cap of £50,000 on the contributions that an individual should make.
It is therefore increasingly important that everyone seriously considers how they – and their parents – will meet this challenge - especially as the average cost of a care home is in the region of £25,000 per year.
Consider your options
First, people need to consider their options – taking into account that they may not be aware of everything that is available. Indeed, 92% of people had heard of care homes but only 51% of people were familiar with the concept of home care, according to recent consumer research. Home care is essentially a service whereby a carer is hired for a set number of hours a week and this care is given in a person’s home – rather than in a residential home.
This type of care is generally both financially and emotionally preferable to time in a residential care home according to consumers. Despite higher awareness of care homes, only 8% of people said they would be happy to live in a residential home – compared to 56% of consumers who said that they would like to receive care at home. The reason that the vast majority of respondents cited this preference was the fact they wanted to remain as independent as possible (84%) and did not want to be a burden on their families (54%).
Home care may not be for everyone – especially where practicality or family circumstances dictate that a nursing home is more appropriate. However, for many people, the main tasks that they need help with in old age are not medical but practical. Indeed, assistance with shopping, household maintenance and errands such as picking up library books are highly valued according to our research.
Paying for care
The biggest consideration when choosing a care provider was quality of care (77%) followed by the cost of care (75%), and to be frank there is quite a bit to worry about financially. In London, for example, the average annual cost of residential care is £30,784 while the average annual income of a pensioner is £15,028, resulting in a £15,756 shortfall.
While other regions of Britain have less dramatic differences between income and cost of care, the average shortfall stands at a staggering £12,055. Home care is more economical as the annual cost of 10 hours a week is in the region of £7,577. This care can also be managed more easily as the number of hours can be increased or decreased depending on the patients’ needs and their families’ involvement.
Working out your options
So how do you go about finding out about your or your parents’ care options? As one can never be sure when ill health can affect someone, most care is an immediate need purchase so it pays to consider what you might do in the situation before it actually happens – you don’t want to be choosing an agency simply because they are available. A conversation with the relevant family members can mean that a clear path taking into account individual preferences can be set ahead of time.
If you decide to see what Government funding is available, an assessment will be organised when care is needed. This is an appointment whereby a care manager visits the person in need of care and reviews their needs and whether or not they are eligible for social care. A list of potential care providers will then be provided.
The state is keen on ensuring that consumers are actively involved in the decision process, so many councils tend to use a Direct Payments Scheme whereby they pay the money to the person who needs care who then makes their own choices within set parameters. Ultimately, this means that many people need to find their own care provider, so it is important to know what to look for in finding a good one.
Start by interviewing the agency – all providers should be happy to visit the person who needs or will need care in their homes and provide their own assessment of the situation. Then use word of mouth and check with regulatory bodies such as the Care Quality Commission. Don’t be afraid to ask questions as this is potentially one of the more important financial decisions you will make in your life.
Considering the implications of illness, old age and loss of independence is never easy but having a plan to deal with the situation when it happens makes it far less traumatic than could be.
Jonathan Bruce is Managing Director of Prestige Nursing & Care
What do you think? Have you made plans to help pay for any care you may need in later life? Would you prefer to receive this care at home or in a specialist facility?