Paying for care

Paying for your own care

Even if you know you will have to pay for it yourself, if you need care in your own home or are considering moving into residential care, you still qualify for a social care assessment by Adult Social Care. The assessment will make sure that your needs will be met. Also, if you expect your capital to fall below £23,250 as a result of paying for care, Adult Social Care may then help you with the cost.

If you are moving into residential care, you may be entitled to some of the following financial assistance and support:

Twelve-week property disregard
This applies if:

  • your former home is included in your financial assessment,
  • your other capital is less than £23,250, and
  • your income is not enough to meet your care home fees.

Adult Social Care will help with the cost during the first twelve weeks of permanent residential care, provided the assessment has shown that this is the kind of care you need. This is called the ‘property disregard’ period.

Deferred payment agreements
After the twelve-week property disregard period, Adult Social Care may be able to help you while your property is being sold. In these circumstances they will charge any financial help they give against the value of your home. This means they will take back the amount they have paid once your property has been sold. However, they may limit how much they will pay.

It may affect your entitlement to Pension Credit if your property is not seen to be on the market and becomes treated as capital by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

What if you run out of money?
If your capital is likely to reduce to £23,250 as a result of paying for care, you must tell Adult Social Care well in advance that this is going to happen. They will then be able to help with your care fees (provided your care needs assessment has shown that you need residential care). They will carry out a financial assessment to confirm the date from which your funds fell below £23,250, and the amount they, and you, will pay towards your care.

If the home you have chosen charges more than the local authority will pay, you must find someone to pay the difference – a ‘top-up’ payment. Whoever does this, whether a family member or a charity, they should understand that the cost could increase, and that they will have to pay the top-up for as long as necessary. The local authority will not meet the additional cost even if you have lived in the home for a number of years. If you cannot find someone to help you meet the extra cost, you may have to move to a home within the local authority’s funding levels.

Understanding your rights before moving into care is essential. There are a number of financial products and specialist companies who may be able to help. It is important to seek financial and legal advice about the various options you may have before committing yourself.

Attendance Allowance
This is a non-means-tested, non-taxable benefit from the DWP. It’s paid at the lower rate of £53.00 a week if you need care by day or night and at the higher rate of £79.15 a week if you need care during the day and night. Everyone who needs care can, and should, claim Attendance Allowance. If you are paying the full cost of residential care, with or without nursing care, you will be entitled to the higher rate.

NHS Nursing Care Contribution
Whether you are a temporary or permanent resident, if you live in a care home that provides nursing care you may be entitled to NHS Nursing Care Contribution towards the cost. It is not means-tested and is currently £109.79 a week. This is paid directly to the home.

What will you have to pay for your care?

Do you have more than £23,250 in capital and savings?
The value of your home is included in the assessment of your capital unless one of the following still lives there:

  • Your partner (that is, your husband, wife or civil partner, or someone you live with as if they were your husband, wife or civil partner)


  • A relative who is over 60 or disabled


  • A child under 16 who you, or a former partner, are responsible for.

Adult Social Care will contribute financially towards your care costs after they have carried out an assessment of your care needs.

How much?
You will need to ask Adult Social Care for an assessment. This will define your care needs and how they will be best met. Any care homes you consider must be able to meet these needs. Adult Social Care will also make an assessment of your financial situation. This determines how much they will pay and how much you will have to pay.

Your choice of care home will be limited to those that accept your local authority’s funding level. If you want to choose a more expensive home you would have to arrange for a third party – such as a family member or charity – to ‘top-up’ the difference. You are not allowed to do this yourself if your capital is below £23,250.

If you have capital between £14,250 and £23,250 you will pay £1 a week for every £250 you have above £14,250.

If your capital is less than £14,250, and the home you choose charges fees that are within your local authority’s funding rate, your contribution will be assessed only on your

Ask your local Adult Social Care department for an assessment. See contact details on page 45.

Any care homes you consider must be able to meet your assessed care needs.
If, apart from your property, your savings are less than £23,250, Adult Social Care can help with your care costs for the first twelve weeks. After this time you can apply for a loan to help you whilst your property is being sold.



  • It is just your own financial circumstances that are assessed, not your partner’s.
  • Your assessment will be made up of two elements; a care needs assessment and a financial one.
  • A care home with nursing will generally be more expensive than a care home.

Consider claiming:

  • Income support
  • Pension Credit
  • Savings Credit (if you are over 65)

Definitely claim:

  • Attendance Allowance, worth either £53.00 or £79.15 a week depending on your care needs.

Moving into a nursing home?

  • You will be eligible for the NHS Nursing Care Contribution – currently £109.79 a week.

Always seek advice:

  • Independent help is available to guide you through your financial options. There may be a number of solutions to retaining your capital whilst paying for care.

Some of the figures mentioned here may change in April 2014.

After this date, please check for up to date figures.

For more information about what Adult Social Care may pay towards care costs, telephone or visit:

Dorset County Council Adult Access Team
Tel: 01305 221016 or
Online factsheet: ‘Paying for services in a care home’ available at:

Borough of Poole Adult Social Care Help Desk
Tel: 01202 633902
Online factsheet: ‘Paying for residential care’ available at:

Bournemouth Care Direct
Bournemouth Borough Council
Tel: 01202 454979
Online information about paying for care is available at:

There are also leaflets on ‘Choosing and paying for care in a residential or nursing home’ and ‘Paying for your own care in a care home’ available online at: or by phoning Bournemouth Care Direct.

Third party payments for care home fees

Some care homes and care homes with nursing charge fees that are higher than the maximum amount Adult Social Care can contribute. If they are contributing towards your care home fees and you choose to move into a home which charges a higher fee, the difference between the two amounts is paid by a third party, usually a relative. Third party payments are sometimes referred to as ‘top-up’ payments.

Before you sign any contract, the home should give you written details of all the charges it intends to make in its ‘Statement of Purpose’ document. If there is anything that is not clear or which you do not understand, you should ask for advice.

As the name suggests, this payment must be made by someone other than yourself or Adult Social Care. It can be a relative or friend, but it cannot be a ‘liable relative’ i.e.
someone whose financial situation has been taken into account when your financial assessment was carried out by Adult Social Care.

The general rule is that you cannot use your own money to fund a third party payment.
However in certain specific circumstances you may make a third party payment from your own funds. These are:

  • when you are eligible for the twelve week property disregard (see page 42) or
  • where Adult Social Care have agreed to a deferred payment until your home is sold (see page 42).

Adult Social Care recommends that you seek independent financial and legal advice if you are considering these options. If you need further advice about how a top up to your care home fees might be arranged please discuss this with your care manager.

If you move to a care home where a third party payment is required, the person who will make the payment on your behalf must sign a contract with Adult Social Care, before the contract with the home is signed.

In doing so they must confirm that they have the financial means to make the third party payments (including any future increases) for the whole time you will live at the
care home.

If you are already a resident in a care home, and no third party agreement was required at the time you became a resident, the home may seek to introduce a third party payment at a later date. Also if a change to your arrangements is made at your request or with your agreement, for example you move to a superior room, then an additional third party payment can become due.

Care fees can increase

It is usual for the fees charged by care homes to increase each year. If you are not paying your own fees, the amount that Adult Social Care can contribute may not increase at the same rate as the home fees increase. Any shortfall in fees must be met by a third party (top-up) payment – discussed on page 45. The third party element of the fee can only be increased once in any financial year and as a guide, the amount should never increase by more than 25% a year. You should receive at least one month’s notice that the third party payment is to increase.

The person who makes the payment for you must sign a new contract with Adult Social Care if the amount of the third party payment increases.

If you are already living in a care home, plan ahead and find out what help you will get from Adult Social Care when your savings fall below the £23,250 limit, explained on page 43.