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Funding your own residential care (self-funders)

If you have more than £50,000 in capital assets, including your home and savings, you will have to pay the full cost of your care.

What is a 'self-funder'

National regulations state that unless you have less than £50,000 in capital assets, which includes your home and your savings, you will not qualify for support from your local authority if you move into residential care. This means that you will have to pay the full cost of your care, and that you will enter into an individual contract with the care home of your choice. Such people are referred to as 'self-funders'.

Planning ahead

Nobody knows, when they move to a residential care home, how long they will live there. Over time, some self-funders use up their capital assets paying care home fees. It is important that you and your family know, before you arrange to move to residential care, what might happen if your capital reduces to the point where you need to ask for financial support from the local authority.

The council can only make a contribution to care home fees for those people that Social Services have assessed as meeting the eligibility criteria for residential care, as well as the financial criteria. This applies even if someone is already living in a care home. If there is no other way that the care home fees could be met, that person would have to leave the care home. Anyone considering residential care is therefore strongly advised to have an assessment of their needs before making the decision to move to a care home.

Self-funders and care assessments

Even if you plan to enter a care home as a self-funder, it is a good idea to talk to Social Services before you finalise your arrangements, and to consider having an assessment of your care needs by a social care professional.

  • Some people who choose to move to a care home could, in fact, stay at home and be more independent with the right level of support. Carrying out an assessment of your care needs enables us to look at what your support needs are and explore different ways they might be met. This might be practical support such as adaptations and equipment, personal care or a combination of the two.
  • Understanding your care needs will enable you and your family to be more involved in planning your future care, and will help you discuss with the home you choose how they will meet those needs.
  • If your capital assets reduce to below £50,000 you can request funding from the local authority towards your care home fees. However this funding is not automatically granted. You would first need to have a care assessment and, if we do not agree that residential care is the most appropriate way for your care needs to be met, we would not be able to make a contribution to your costs.

Self-funders and financial assessments

A financial assessment looks in detail at your income and capital assets in order to work out whether, and how much, the council should contribute to the costs of your care. There is no requirement for someone who plans to pay for their residential care to have a financial assessment, but you may find it helpful to do so. If any of the following apply to you, we can look at your individual circumstances and explain how the rules apply.

  • If you own your own home, but someone else lives there as well as you, we may not need to take its value into account when we calculate your assets.
  • If you own your home, but your other assets are less than £50,000, you would be eligible for the '12 week disregard' which means that for the first 12 weeks you are in permanent residential care, the value of your home is not taken into account when assessing how much you need to pay.
  • If you own your home and do not wish to sell it, we may be able to offer you a deferred payment - so long as your other assets are less than £50,000.
  • If it is likely that your capital will reduce to below £50,000 within the foreseeable future, as a result of paying care home fees, we can explain what sort of help you could expect from the council at that point.
  • If you need nursing care, we can advise you how to get help with the cost of this from the NHS.

Even if your savings are over £50,000, you may find it beneficial to discuss your circumstances with our Social Care Income and Finance Team.

With your permission, we can also check that you are claiming all the state benefits to which you are entitled, and explain the rules about giving away your assets. We cannot, however, give you financial advice.

Top-up fees

You should be aware that many care homes charge more than the local authority is able to pay. While you are a self-funder this will not affect you, but if in the future you expect to rely on a council contribution, you need to consider how the additional cost will be paid and to choose a home that you will continue to be able to afford.

When someone lives in a home for which a top-up fee is required, this is made by means of a third party payment. This means that someone else - usually a relative - must sign a contract with the local authority which commits them to pay the additional amount direct to the care home for as long as is necessary. It is not possible for the resident to make this payment from their own money.

If, as a self-funder, you choose a more expensive care home, you need to establish in advance that there is someone who would be able and willing to make the necessary third party payment if you later had to rely on a local authority contribution. If there is no-one who can do this on your behalf, you might have to move to an alternative care home offering a lower rate.

Search for advice and support

We have provided a list of local and national organisations which could offer you further advice and support.

Social Care Income and Finance Team

If you have any detailed questions about your social care financial assessment, or would like to challenge the charges.
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