In England and Wales, councils charge for the domiciliary care services that they provide, and only certain people qualify for help with the costs. So regardless of your loved one’s financial situation, if they need care at home the first step is to have a needs assessment from the social services department of the local authority.
Local authorities have a legal duty to carry out a needs assessment of anyone they think might be eligible for local authority care. This gives a professional assessment of the type of care needed in the form of a written care plan.
For more details about the needs assessment – how it is carried out, how to prepare for it and the eligibility criteria – see the Which? guide Accessing local authority and NHS care and support.
When your loved one is assessed as needing care and wants to apply for financial help, the local authority will carry out a financial assessment (also known as a ‘means test’) of your loved one’s income, savings and assets to decide how much help they can give.
You don’t have to do a financial assessment
There is no obligation to do a financial assessment – for example, your loved one may already know that they won’t qualify because their assets are considerably over the threshold. However, if they are unsure whether they will qualify or not, it is a good idea to do the financial assessment, and this can also give a better idea of whether or when they may become eligible in the future.
The financial assessment
The financial assessment looks at your loved one’s capital (savings and assets) and income to determine how much he or she should contribute towards the cost of their care. Your loved one will need to have this done to find out if they are eligible for any financial help.
*There are some specific rules that apply to funding for care at home. We summarise these in the rest of this guide so that you know what to expect.