Guardian Carers Feature on BBC News London

How do you pay for homecare?

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Whether you need to move into a care home or need your care to move in with you, care is expensive. When you are looking at ways in which this burden could be eased, it's important to know what options are not only out there but what options are actually available to you. You could end up paying for all of it, some of it or nothing at all.

Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for NHS continuing healthcare. When a person’s primary requirement is assistance with their health, then the NHS is responsible for providing and funding their care. This could be at home, in a care home or in a hospice.

However, the assessment which determines your eligibility is extremely strict and it is not black and white as to which conditions and illnesses qualify you for funding. In saying that, this scheme could save you thousands of pounds every year so it is worth looking into.

If you miss out on NHS funded care, don’t fret, your council may be able to step in as a backup. Although their assessment requirements are not quite as strict as those of the NHS, the process still applies. It’s no secret that Councils only have a limited amount of funding available, your council will undertake their own assessment of your care needs and your assets and savings will be taken into account. This assessment will determine what care they believe you are entitled to and require and whether you need to contribute in any way.

If you aren’t able to rely on either the NHS or your local council, at this stage things may be looking like you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Your care needs are severe enough for the NHS to step in, your assets have been valued too high for the council to step in and yet, you are still unable to afford the care you need - where does that leave you?

Downsizing or equity release.

Downsizing is considered to be selling your current home and moving into one that is smaller and may even be more suited to your current needs. You are able to move into a home that may have fewer stairs, fewer rooms to maintain, fewer tripping hazards and live off the extra cash you made in the sale.

Equity release is, in a nutshell, a way to unlock the value of your assets and turn it into a cash sum. While assessments are still involved in this process, you are guaranteed to walk away from this with some sort of financial support. With a lifetime mortgage, which is the most popular option, you will be able to borrow some of the property’s value at a capped or fixed interest rate and when you decide to sell the home, that money will be used to pay off the debt.

Historically, house values have steadily increased at a higher rate than the interest that is on most loans so while this may mean you will be leaving less of inheritance to your loved ones, using your money to ensure your life and well being is maintained in a way that means you are able to spend more quality time with them could be argued of having immeasurable value.

Equity release as an industry is steadily increasing, with lending on equity expected to double in the next 5 years. While there has been a negative reputation around equity release of having impossibly high-interest rates and seizing of home, due to the steady increase of competition the attitude of many firms has been forced to change.

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