Paying for care in a care home

How we assess whether you are eligible for funding from Hampshire County Council towards your care in a care home and how we work out what contribution you need to pay.

Who pays for a care home?

There are three ways that care home fees may be paid.

  • The person being cared for (or their family or a friend) pays all the costs for their care. This is called ‘self-funding’
  • The local authority pays for some or all of the care, but a relative or friend of a resident can also contribute an additional voluntary fee, known as a third-party top-up fee
  • Sometimes the NHS may also contribute to the cost of all or some of the care

How much do care homes cost?

The costs of care homes vary greatly and will depend on:

  • whether it is a residential home or a nursing home
  • whether you have a single or shared room
  • whether you have an en-suite bathroom
  • many other factors

As a rough guide:

  • the average fee that a self-funder pays for a residential care home in the Hampshire County Council area is £815 per week or £42,380 per year
  • the average fee that a self-funder pays for a nursing home in the Hampshire County Council area is £986 per week or £51,272 per year

Source: Fees paid by self-funders: LaingBuisson surveys of care homes 2017.

If you care is being arranged and funded, or part-funded, by Hampshire County Council, we may agree special rates with care homes.

When will Hampshire County Council pay for a care home?

Before we decide if you are eligible for funding, we will first carry out an assessment of your care needs.

If you have ‘eligible needs’ that qualify for help from us, someone from our Financial Assessments and Benefits team will visit you to carry out a financial assessment.

To qualify for any help towards the cost of your care home place, you must have assessable savings and/or capital below the current threshold of £23,250 and/or your income must be less than the amount we agree to pay for your care.

We can only pay a part of your fees, which means that we expect you to pay a certain amount from your income and/or savings. For people with little income or savings the amount that they pay will be relatively small.

The financial assessment is a detailed process and we treat every case individually. Below is a general guide.

If you have:

  • more than £23,250 in assessable savings (usually including the value of your home), you will need to pay the full cost of care yourself. (There are times when the value of your home is not taken into account. See information under ‘What if I own a property’ and ‘Can you disregard the value of my property?’)
  • between £14,250 and £23,250 in assessable savings, we will look at your savings and assessable income to work out what contribution you will pay towards your care costs. Savings between £14,250 and £23,250 are assessed as if you have an assumed (or ‘tariff’) income. For every £250 or part of £250 above £14,250, you are treated as if you have an extra £1 a week income
    Example: If you have capital of £14,750 you are treated as having £2 a week income (two lots of £250)
  • less than £14,250 in assessable savings, we will take into account any assessable income you have to work out what contribution you will pay towards the cost of your care

What if I disagree with the amount you ask me to pay?

If you feel we have not taken account of something important in the financial assessment, phone the Financial Assessment and Benefits team on 01962 845128. If you feel you have been unfairly charged for any other reason, phone us on 0300 555 1386.

If you still feel the charge is more than you can afford, you may want to seek independent advice from the Society of Later Life Advisors. Phone 0333 2020 454.

Will I be entitled to any welfare benefits?

We will tell you if we believe you are entitled to claim any benefits. It is important that you claim any benefits to which you are entitled as we include them in the charge we ask you to pay. We will offer to help you make a claim if you need us to.

How much income do I keep?

If you are a permanent resident, and we are funding your care, you will keep a minimum of £24.90 each week. You may keep more than this depending on the type of income you receive. You can also choose to keep more than this if you own a property and have a deferred payment agreement.

If you are a temporary resident, there may be additional allowances we can make if you live alone and have ongoing household expenses to pay such as rent or service charges.

What if the care home I choose costs more than the council will pay?

If the Council is contributing towards your care home fees, we will tell you how much we think your care should cost. The total amount – including our contribution and yours – is called your personal budget. We will offer you at least one care home place that meets your care needs for that amount of money. If you’d prefer a more expensive home, you may still be able to move there if someone pays the difference between the fees and your personal budget. This is a top-up fee.

You can’t usually pay your own top-up fees; they’re generally paid by a third party, such as a friend, relative or charity. 

See our Top up payments page for more information.

How do I pay?

Payments should be made directly to the County Council (usually by fixed direct debit or payment of a four-weekly invoice).

There may be a delay in sending your first invoice for your care charges. This is while we sort out what you have to pay for your care. We normally send invoices at a basic standard amount for your care until we have been able to work out your actual charge. An adjusted invoice will be sent once you have received notification of your charge.

If you want more information you should speak to your Care Practitioner. If you fail to make your agreed payments for your care we may take legal action to reclaim the money owing.

What happens if there are price rises?

The rate we agree to pay and the rates of state benefits are normally reviewed every year and any changes are effective from April. However, it is important that you inform the Financial Assessments Officers in the Residential Team dealing with your financial assessment promptly when your finances change. They will tell you if there is any change to the contribution we ask you to make to the cost of your accommodation.

If someone is paying a top up for you, he or she should agree with the care home owner when and how that payment will be reviewed. At the point of review, the Care Practitioner will check to ensure we are still paying the amount required to meet your eligible needs. Anything over that amount will be your contribution and top up.

What if I own a property?

If you are a temporary resident in a care home, we will not include the value of the home you live in. However, if you own any property or land other than the home you live in, we will take the value into account.

If you are a permanent resident in a care home, we will take your home into account. We will usually ignore its value for up to 12 weeks, starting from the date you first became a permanent resident. We call this the '12 week property disregard'. You will have to contribute towards your care costs during this period from income and other capital. You will also have to continue to maintain the property and meet any ongoing costs that arise, although we can allow for household expenses during this period.

During the ’12 week property disregard’ you will have to decide how you will fund your ongoing care when the disregard period ends. You will need to take advice at the earliest opportunity to decide how you are going to pay for your ongoing care.

What if I do not want to sell my property?

There are various ways to fund your care:

  • You may decide to raise the money you need by renting out your home. The rental income may allow you to fund your ongoing care. Whether you can do this will depend on your income, how much the fees are and whether anyone else can help you. You will need to consider expenses such as the maintenance and insurance of the property
  • You may have family or friends who are willing to contribute towards the cost of your care
  • You may decide to raise the money by taking out a loan, taking out an annuity, a home income plan or some other type of equity release scheme
  • You may decide to apply for a deferred payment agreement

We strongly recommend that you seek independent financial advice before making any decisions about funding your care.

Can you disregard the value of my property?

If you are a permanent resident, your former home will not normally be taken into account if it remains occupied by:

  • your partner or spouse
  • a relative aged over 60
  • a relative aged under 60 who is incapacitated
  • a divorced or estranged partner with a dependent child
  • a child under 16 maintained by you

What happens if I give my property away?

If you give away property or sell it for less than its true value to try to avoid paying the full cost of your fees, we will calculate your charge as if you still own the property. There are actions we can take if we think you have deliberately given away or sold property for less than its worth.

Read more about deprivation of assets

What if I am moving from or to another county?

Only people who normally live in Hampshire can apply for financial help from Hampshire County Council. Anyone who wants to move into a care home in Hampshire from another part of the country and needs financial help with the fees should start by contacting the adult social care department of the local authority where they normally live.

Anyone who wants to move from Hampshire to a home in another part of England and Wales, and needs financial help with the fees from Hampshire County Council, should contact us on 0300 555 1386.

When will the NHS pay for care home fees?

You may be eligible for funding through a health fund called NHS continuing healthcare. This is care that is arranged and funded solely by the NHS for individuals who are not in hospital but have been assessed as having a ‘primary health need’. There are very high eligibility criteria for this payment.

If you think this may apply to you, you should speak to your doctor or district nurse.

You may still be eligible for NHS-funded nursing care if you are not eligible for NHS continuing healthcare, but

  • have been assessed as needing care from a registered nurse and
  • you live in a nursing home

The NHS pays a flat rate directly to the nursing home towards the cost of your nursing care. It won’t pay for the other care home costs, such as the accommodation. Any invoices we send you are for care and accommodation and you should not expect NHS funded nursing care to be deducted.

What if I am a self-funder?

You will be a self-funder if any of the following apply to you:

  • you have chosen not to approach Hampshire County Council for help
  • you have chosen not to be financially assessed by the Council or provide all of the information requested
  • your care needs have been assessed but you are not currently eligible for adult social care services
  • your care needs have been assessed and you are eligible for social care support but your savings or assets are above £23,250

If you are paying the full costs of your care yourself, it is still a good idea to contact us for an assessment of your needs. We can explain the full range of services available to you. It may be that we can help you to stay at home rather than choosing residential care.

You should also contact us for advice if your savings and assets are currently above the capital threshold but may go below this threshold while you are living in a care home.

We always recommend that you seek independent financial advice and that you check whether you are entitled to claim for any benefits.

Getting independent financial advice

Paying for care can be an expensive and open-ended commitment. If you are paying the full cost of care yourself, you should seek independent financial advice. Look for a financial adviser with specialist qualifications on advising on the funding of long-term care. They will be able to explain all the costs and risks involved and should be able to help with other things such as setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney.

If you are currently receiving care it is still advisable to seek specialist information and advice as there may be options available to you to protect your interests and those of your family.

The Money Advice Service gives advice about all aspects of paying for care. Phone 0300 500 5000.

The Society of Later Life Advisers (SOLLA) is a not-for-profit consumer organisation that aims to assist consumers and their families in finding accredited independent financial advisers who understand financial needs in later life. Phone 0333 2020 454.

Payment queries

If the Council is paying for some or all of your care and you have any queries in relation to payments, please contact Adults' Health and Care on 0300 555 1386.