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19 Community care

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1. Introduction

2. Who decides what sort of care I need?

3. Who pays if I get care in my home?

4. How much will I have to pay?

5. What if I am coming out of hospital?

6. What happens if I need to move into a care home?

7. What if I need nursing care?

8. Will I have to sell my home?

9. What benefits may I claim?

If you are moving permanently into residential care, you may qualify for some welfare benefits such as the following:

  • If you move into a residential care home that you pay for yourself, you could claim benefits such as Attendance Allowance or Disability Living Allowance. But if the council is paying part of the fees, some benefits may be stopped after you have been in the home for four weeks.
  • If you have a low income, but the value of your home means you cannot get help from the council, you could claim Income Support (if you are under 60) or Pension Credit (if you are over 60 to help you pay care home fees while you are waiting to sell your property. This can last for up to 26 weeks.
  • If your savings were too high to qualify for income-related benefits before you moved into a home, you may find you become eligible once you have moved, because the savings limits are higher for people living in residential care. In some cases, the value of your home does not count.
  • If you are married and move into residential care but your husband or wife remains at home, the things you own jointly will not be taken into account (except for savings,which will normally be treated as if owned in equal shares). The amount of any Income Support or Pension Credit will be worked out as if you were both single, so for the partner in the care home, the higher levels of savings allowed for people in residential care will apply in working out whether he or she is eligible for the benefits. If you or your husband or wife live in different residential care homes or nursing homes, you will be treated as if you were both single, so you will both be allowed the higher savings levels for residential care when working out what you are entitled to.

For more about claiming benefits, contact your local social security office, Jobcentre or, if you are a pensioner, the Pension Service. The Department for Work and Pensions website also has information - see 'Further help'. For more about your rights when claiming benefits, see the Community Legal Service leaflet, 'Welfare Benefits'.

What must my husband or wife do for me?

By law, husbands and wives (called 'liable relatives') must support each other. Your husband or wife's income and capital cannot be taken into account in working out what you have to pay or the benefits you get in residential care. But the council can ask them to pay for some of the cost of your care. This is only for married couples - unmarried partners (and other relatives) are not 'liable relatives'.

There are no rules about how much a liable relative has to pay. Your husband or wife can try to negotiate an amount that seems reasonable. They do not have to give the authorities any information about their income or savings. If they can't reach an agreement, the council may apply through the courts if it really thinks your husband or wife should help with the costs of your care.

None of this should make any difference to the care you get. You must still get the care you need, even if your husband or wife refuses to help pay for it. And the Government has said it will end the liable relatives rule, though it has not yet said when.

10. What choice of home do I have?

11. What if I want to move to a care home that costs more than the council will pay?

12. What if my move into a home is temporary?

13. What rights do I have when I am in a care home?

14. What if I have difficulty getting the care I need?

15. Further Help

16. About this leaflet

This leaflet is published by the Legal Services Commission (LSC).  It was written in association with Sue Bloomfield, a freelance consumer affairs writer.

The leaflets are regularly updated but the law may have changed since they were printed so the information in them may be incorrect or out of date.

Leaflet Version: May 2019

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