I care for my 89-year-old mum but she might need a nursing home: What happens to her savings and property – and will I have to move out?
I have been living with my mother in her apartment for six years. I receive carer’s allowance and she receives the 25 per cent discount in council tax.
My mother is 89 and I am approaching my 66th birthday. She is getting close to the point of needing permanent care in a nursing home.
What will happen to her savings and property? She has £30,000 saved and owns her property outright. Will I have to move out? Will the savings and property be used for her care?
Care home bills: Lawyer Elaine Roche (pictured right), partner at Kuits in Manchester and a director of Solicitors for the Elderly, explains the funding rules below
Tanya Jefferies, of This is Money, replies: We hear fairly often from people who have given up their own homes, and sometimes jobs, to devote themselves to caring for their loved ones.
After doing this, sometimes unpaid for many years, they frequently don’t have much money to fall back on themselves.
Therefore, when a relative sadly starts needing more care than they can give, and the prospect of residential care bills and official financial assessments loom, it can be a very stressful time all round.
We asked a lawyer who is experienced in this area to explain the sequence of events that is likely to take place, what your mother might and might not have to pay to live in a care home, and how this could affect your own living situation.
Going purely on the information you have told us – and with the caveat that we do NOT know all your circumstances – she doesn’t believe you will have to leave your home too if your mother has to move to a care home.
We hope the information below is helpful to you and your mother.
Elaine Roche, partner at Kuits in Manchester and a director of Solicitors for the Elderly, replies: If you haven’t done so already, you should organise a needs assessment for your mother.
You can start the process by applying for NHS Continuing Healthcare funding on her behalf. This has a high threshold for success, but if she qualifies it means her care would be paid for by the NHS.
How NHS CHC works: Could YOU get care fees 100% funded?
Even if your mother doesn’t qualify, by getting an assessment you can ascertain her needs, which is essential and will enable you to choose the correct home for her.
If her needs are not severe enough to qualify for NHS CHC, a financial assessment would then be carried out.
This would first of all look at your mother’s income, such as pensions or savings interest, which can be used towards care.
Ensure that your mother is claiming all the benefits she is entitled to as this will maximise her income. However, disability benefits are disregarded in this case.
If her income does not cover her care costs, then the financial assessment will look at the value of the assets your mother owns.
Where somebody has over £23,250 in capital or savings, they have to pay in full for residential care themselves, but if the value of their assets falls below this level the local authority will step in to help.
When it comes to someone’s property, this can be excluded from a financial assessment in certain circumstances.
These include where a person who lived with someone until they went into care is their husband, wife or civil partner, or an ex-husband, wife or civil partner, or a close relative over 60, or a child under 16, or incapacitated.
On that basis, if you do not have a home of your own, then as you are a close relative over the age of 60 you will qualify, and your mother’s property should not be included in the financial assessment.
Even if you did not qualify, there are instances where local authorities can use their discretion to exclude or ‘disregard’ the property.
How do ‘disregards’ work?
Care experts explain how local authorities decide them here.
This usually happens if someone has given up their home and moved in to look after the person requiring care.
In conclusion, your mother will need to pay for her care until her savings fall below the £23,250 threshold.
Once that has happened, a new financial assessment should be done, and she would then be eligible for local authority funding.
It’s important to note that based on what you say about your mother’s savings, her assets could fall below the threshold within a fairly short space of time.
Therefore, it would be advisable to check the care home your mother goes into accepts local authority funding.
By not doing so, you risk having to seek an alternative home and move your mother again.