As you face the prospect of moving into and paying for a care home, you may find yourself asking:
How much are care home fees in Scotland? What about residential vs nursing care homes?
Is funding available to help offset care home costs in Scotland? Will I qualify?
What will happen to my home? How will my loved ones cope if we lose our home?
These concerns can easily stress and overwhelm. To help point you in the right direction, this guide offers an overview of care home funding in Scotland. (See note 1.)
Let’s begin by breaking down the cost of a care home in Scotland.
The fee you pay for a care home in Scotland can include costs for:
- accommodation (sometimes called the hotel cost, this can apply to a residential care home or a nursing care home)
- personal care in a residential care home (24/7 support is provided by qualified care assistants who support you in washing, dressing, dining and socialising)
- nursing care in a nursing care home (24/7 support in the same key areas is overseen by registered nurses, and is designed for people with specific medical requirements)
If you’re moving into a nursing care home, all three fees will apply. But if you’re moving into a residential care home, you won’t pay for nursing care.
Different sources of funding can be allocated to each service, and depending on your needs and financial ability, you may be entitled to public funding.
To find out whether you qualify for public funding, you should first arrange a care needs assessment through your local authority. The needs assessment will evaluate your day-to-day support requirements, and determine whether your needs can be supported within your own home, or whether a 24/7 care home environment is required.
This bit is particularly important: Regardless of your financial status, you must arrange a needs assessment through your council’s social work department before contracting with any care service providers. Failure to do so may jeopardise your eligibility for care funding, and possibly delay admission into a care home.
If 24/7 care is recommended, the care assessment will also specify whether a residential care home is suitable, or whether you should be supported in a nursing care home (typically because of a complex and/or ongoing medical situation).
After the needs assessment, the council will also undertake a financial assessment to determine your eligibility for public funding.
Read on for a more detailed look at how care home accommodation costs work within Scotland. We’ll also explore how nursing care and personal care in Scotland can be funded.
Care home accommodation costs in Scotland: how much are they, and do I qualify for funding?
Let’s begin by asking: Could you imagine spending £852 per week on nursing care within a care home in Scotland?
What about £639 per week for residential care in one of Scotland’s care homes?
These figures represent the average care home fees in Scotland, as identified by Which? Elderly Care in the consumer organisation’s 2016-2017 research. (See note 2.)
Yet, the reality is that most people will find themselves footing the bill for a care home because of financial thresholds put in place by local authorities.
That’s because council funding for care home accommodation is linked to a person’s income, capital and savings. Most people won’t meet the threshold for accommodation funding support from their local authority.
Here’s the bottom line: If a care seeker has more than £27,250 in assets — including home ownership — then the local authority will not fund the accommodation costs incurred at a care home. (See note 3.)
So, if you have assets exceeding £27,250, you’ll need to finance the accommodation costs on your own, or with the help of family or friends.
If your capital value is between £17,000 and £27,250, you may qualify for financial support, although this depends on your income. The council will consider your income to be £1 per £250, between £17,000 and £27,250. In this case, you will be asked to contribute £1 a week for every £250 (or part of £250) that you have over the lower limit. (See note 4.)
But, if your capital is below £17,000, you may qualify for:
- £667.09 per week for nursing care in Scotland, or
- £574.42 per week for residential care in Scotland (See note 5.)
Free nursing care and personal care in Scotland: do I qualify?
Thankfully, regardless of the care seeker’s financial status, you may be able to access council funding to qualify for free nursing and/or personal care.
Remember, you must first request a care needs assessment from your council’s social work department. If you don’t go through this process, or if you arrange your own care without first being assessed, you may lose out on funding.
If the needs assessment reveals that you do require personal care, and if you’re aged 65 or over, then you may qualify to receive £174 per week to cover personal care costs. This rate is valid from 01 April 2018. (See note 6.) However, the assessment must stipulate that your personal care needs can only be managed within a care home setting.
The council may also fund £78 per week for nursing care, if you are found to have an assessed need for nursing care, specifically within a nursing care home. There is no minimum age required in order to access nursing care funding.
If you qualify for both of these sources of funding, that’s £249 per week.
How to pay for care home costs in Scotland
Councils will only provide an agreed amount of funding once a contract with a care home has been established. So, even if you’re arranging your own move, you should first ensure that payments made on behalf of the local authority can be made from the date you enter the home.
But what happens if you prefer a care home with costs that exceed the payments made by your local authority? You or a relative can make top-up payments, allowing you to select your own preferred provider, even if the associated costs exceed the council’s maximum contributions.
There may be other funding options available to you as well, depending on your situation. Let’s take a closer look at some of these options.
Deferring care home fee payments in Scotland
Is the value of your capital less than £17,000? If so, you may also be eligible for a council Deferred Payment Agreement (DPA), which allows you to defer care home payment fees until the property is sold, or until 56 days after your death.
With a DPA in place, you will not be charged interest. Moreover, a DPA may allow you to rent out your home to help cover care home costs.
You should seek professional legal and financial advice before entering into such an agreement.
Selling your home, or renting it out
If you are facing the prospect of moving into a care home, you may not need to immediately sell your property. The ‘12 Week Property Disregard’ scheme is designed to allow people whose capital value falls at or below £27,250 — excluding their personal residence — the chance to temporarily delay selling their property, even if they have moved into a care home on a permanent basis.
Perhaps it’s useful to think of this as a cooling-off period as you settle into care home life.
The property disregard scheme is particularly beneficial if you’re not sure whether a care home will become a permanent arrangement. Maybe you simply want to try a care home for a short period of time, or require one for respite care. If you qualify, you can avoid the need to sell your home for up to 12 weeks over a 52-week period, so you could effectively leave a care home and later rejoin multiple times. (See note 7.)
Unfortunately, many people who are assessed as requiring care home support will face the prospect of selling their own home in order to make care home payments in Scotland.
However, if your spouse or partner also lives in the home, and the property is registered in both names, then it will be excluded within your financial assessment, and your spouse or partner can continue to live at home.
That’s just one of several possible scenarios in which you may be able to keep your home. Your home should not be included within the financial assessment if any of the following people continue to live in the property:
- your husband or wife, civil partner or unmarried partner
- a relative who is over 60 years old
- a relative you support, under the age of 16
- an incapacitated or disabled relative
- a divorced or estranged partner, who is a lone parent with a dependent child
Home value may also be ignored if someone currently lives there and used to care for you. This would depend on the carer having given up his or her own home in order to move into yours.
Finally, home value should also be disregarded for temporary care home placements, even if you’re the only occupant. (See note 8.)
If you face the prospect of selling your home to pay for accommodation, you could first explore renting out your home, even temporarily, or downsizing to release equity.
Other options to pay for a care home in Scotland
You may wish to consider other options to help pay for a care home in Scotland.
For example, you could explore:
- Care home ‘top-ups’: a friend or relative may be willing to provide a top-up, which can enable you to select a care home that costs more than the amount provided for by your council
- Care home insurance: after an initial lump sum is paid, an Immediate Need Care Fee Annuity provides regular tax-free income towards your care home placement
- Hospital Based Complex Clinical Care: the NHS may continue to pay for your care if your support needs can be met outwith a hospital
- Charitable funds: in emergency situations, financial support may be available from a charitable or benevolent fund
Find out more information about paying for a care home if you don’t qualify for local authority funding.
Getting re-assessed for care needs
Regardless of your current circumstances, you are entitled to have your care needs and finances reassessed every six months, or possibly sooner if you experience a dramatic change of circumstances. Contact your local authority’s social care department to arrange a follow-up care and/or financial assessment. Be sure to do this as soon as possible, particularly if you’re concerned that your financial situation may soon fall into a different threshold.
- This guide is informational and should not be used as a substitute for specialist legal or financial advice. For personal advice, contact Citizens Advice Scotland on 0808 800 9060, or Age Scotland on 0800 12 44 222.
- “Financing A Care Home”, Which? Elderly Care, https://www.which.co.uk/elderly-care/financing-care/financing-a-care-home/381597-care-home-fees (6 April 2018)
- If a spouse still lives at home, this asset should be excluded from the financial assessment. Additional exclusions may apply. For more information, see the ‘Selling your home’ section of this document.
- More information is available on page 29 here: http://www.gov.scot/resource/doc/230561/0062673.pdf (NB: Please ignore the capital limits stated in that document, as they refer to 2008 levels and have since increased. However, the tiered income contribution remains the same.)
- 2017-2018 rates
- More information is available here: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Health/Support-Social-Care/Support/Adult-Social-Care/Free-Personal-Nursing-Care
- More information is available on page 32 here: http://www.gov.scot/resource/doc/230561/0062673.pdf
- More information is available on page 31 here: http://www.gov.scot/resource/doc/230561/0062673.pdf
(Last updated 17 May 2018.)