The care system in the UK can seem complicated, especially as there are regional variations. This article explains what support might be available to you and how to apply for it
If you are caring for a person with dementia, you may be entitled to financial help, but the system can be complex and there are regional variations in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Broadly speaking, there are three systems:
- The social care system
- The welfare benefits system (the person may qualify for Attendance Allowance)
- The NHS (the person may qualify for NHS Continuing Care)
Start with the social care system, which means contacting the local authority in the area where the person lives and asking for an assessment of their care needs to see if they are eligible for local authority funding. The Care Act 2014 says that the person must have access to good quality information and advice from the first time they contact the local authority and they are entitled to an assessment to see if they meet certain eligibility criteria. This is called a ‘Needs Assessment’.
If the person qualifies for funding, the care is means-tested, which means that their assets (including their savings and the value of their home) will be considered. They might qualify for care but may be expected to fully fund it themselves.
Another option is to arrange for are privately by using a private home care agency that you choose. If you do this, the local authority would not oversee it so your rights against that provider are entirely down to the contract you have with the agency. If the local authority provides care, they have a statutory duty to ensure the care is meeting the person’s needs.
If the person is not considered eligible for financial support from the local authority, the authority should still give them information and advice about what care they need and how they can go about finding it.
Other forms of support may include:
Attendance Allowance – This is provided by the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) to those who are 65 and over who require help with personal care who have needed help for at least six months. It is not means-tested and is tax-free. There are two levels of financial assistance. A lower rate may apply if the person requires frequent or constant supervision during the day or at night, while a higher rate will apply if they require help and supervision throughout the day and night, or if they are terminally ill. For more information, visit the DWP website at https://www.gov.uk/attendance-allowance
However, if your parent or loved one is under the age of 65, they may instead be entitled to help from the Personal Independence Payment & Disability Living Allowance (PIP). This is gradually replacing the Disability Living Allowance and is also tax-free, payable every month. There are two rates, Daily Living Component and Mobility Component. Daily living is for those who need help with washing and dressing, preparing or eating food and managing medication. Mobility is for those who have trouble moving around and getting out. To qualify, the person must have had problems for at least three months and expect their needs to last for at least nine months. For information, visit https://www.gov.uk/pip/overview
NHS Continuing Healthcare – This is a package of care arranged and funded by the NHS that can be in any setting – in the person’s home, or in a care home. It is available in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, though the details below may be different in Northern Ireland.
If the person is eligible, it is free and is not means tested. The NHS will pay for services from a community nurse or a specialist therapist and associated social care needs such as personal care and domestic tasks. Anyone assessed as having a certain level of care needs may be entitled to NHS Continuing Healthcare. The assessment must show that the person has a ‘primary health need’ relating to the nature, complexity, intensity and unpredictability – i.e. how hard it is to predict a change in needs.
For more information on NHS Continuing Healthcare in England, visit http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/social-care-and-support-guide/pages/nhs-continuing-care.aspx
For information about care in Scotland, visit http://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Health-and-Social-Community-Care/NHS-Continuing-Care/
For information about NHS Continuing Care in Wales, visit http://www.wales.nhs.uk/continuingnhshealthcare
For information about NHS Continuing Care in Northern Ireland, contact your local health and social care trust. Find the nearest one by visiting http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/health-and-social-care-trusts
As a carer, you might be entitled to a Carer’s Allowance if you are caring for someone for 35 hours a week or more, you’re aged 16 or over and not in full time education, and earning £110 a week (after deductions) or less.
Visit http://www.carersorg or call the Carer’s UK Advice Line on 0808 808 7777.
This may all sound overwhelming, but advice is available at The Alzheimer’s Show, where we have a range of experts who can talk to you in-depth about your circumstances. Age UK has a free Advice Line on 0800 169 2081. It also has local branches and you can find your nearest one by visiting the Age UK website at http://www.ageuk.org.uk/no-one/we-provide-advice/ and entering your location.
The Carers UK website can also provide help and support. You can also call The Carers UK advice line on 0808 808 7777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Free help is also available from the Alzheimer’s Society’s National Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 11 22.