Few people prepare for entering into long term care. Even fewer people like to think of having to put their loved one, most likely a parent, into a long term care facility. That being said, once the day comes to pass it is understandable why the main concern would be how to fund such care, especially given that it seems care fees are only ever increasing. Furthermore, with life expectancy continuing to increase, most individuals will in fact need some level of care or assistance during their latest years in life. Many consumers worry about if they will have to sell their property or if they will be expected to exhaust all the capital and assets that they have available to them. And these are all legitimate concerns.

A survey carried out in 2010 asked consumers the question ‘Where would you go for advice on the payment of care fees?’ Not surprisingly 25% said they would seek advice from their Local Authority and another 25% of respondents said that they didn’t know while 17% responded by saying the Citizens Advice Bureau. What was a little surprising though was that only 4% of those asked said they would seek advice from a SOLLA Accredited Long Term Care Financial Adviser which is a concern for the long term care market.

The reason why this is surprising is that the main concerns of those entering residential care or their families is the cost to provide this care. Whilst there is the emotional costs to the family they also have to deal with the real prospect that everything they have worked so hard for during their lifetime could be depleted in an effort to pay for care. However, it seems that very few consumers are actually spending sufficient time planning for the prospect that they or their close loved one may need care and subsequently, may need to determine how to pay for their care services.

Receiving specialist financial advice in the initial stages can save you a great deal over the longer term. In fact, the best advice that anyone can be given is to be as proactive in determining how to pay for care as possible. While no one enjoys thinking that they may have to enter care, this is there real possibility that it may happen and there is no harm in being as prepared as possible. However, there is harm that can be done by not being prepared. By learning about options earlier rather than later, consumers are better able to understand the emotional impact of arranging care for either themselves or their loved one and have an in-depth knowledge of ‘Charging for Residential Accommodation Guide’ (CRAG). The welfare benefits system is complex and a specialist adviser can help to guide you through any benefits that could be available to you which could reduce the burden of cost for your care. There are several different options available, both related to actual services that can be rendered as well as options on how to pay for those services. These options can vary quite substantially given each patient’s unique financial circumstance. That is why there is no one size fits all solution to paying for care or receiving services.

The Charging for Residential Accommodation Guide covers the parameters that local authorities can use to assess your assets and to see who needs to pay for their own care and who will receive funding from the Local Authority. CRAG also covers which of your assets can be discarded from the means test and when your home may be excluded from the calculation. These options can include ways for the consumer to retain ownership of their property, should they own one, through such programs as the 12 week property disregard or deferred payment agreement. There are also equity release schemes that can be used to salvage ownership of a home while the homeowner is receiving long term care. There are a number of different programs, services, and financial assistance programs available to most consumers. However, these can really only be entertained if the consumer leaves enough time available to explore these options. It is harder to look at every possibility if the choices have to be made immediately. So, it is important to be as proactive as possible in learning about everything that is available and how to capitalize on all of the different options that are on the table. It can only serve to make you more educated when it comes time to make difficult decisions either for yourself or your loved one.