This annex covers how to undertake a financial assessment of someone who is temporarily placed in a care home
Setting the context
1) Following an assessment of a person’s eligible care and support needs a decision may be taken that the person would benefit from a temporary stay in a care home. This could be for a number of reasons such as providing respite care to a carer or to provide a period of more intense support owing to an additional, but temporary, care need.
2) The financial assessment of what they can afford to contribute to the cost of their care and support needs must be undertaken with regard to the following guidance.
3) The financial assessment must be based on the individual resources of the person. However a local authority should give regard to any partner or spouse remaining at home and ensure they are left with a basic level of income support or pension credit to which they may be entitled in their own right.
Who is a temporary resident?
4) A temporary resident is defined as a person whose need to stay in a care home is intended to last for a limited period of time and where there is a plan to return home. The person’s stay should be unlikely to exceed 52 weeks, or in exceptional circumstances, unlikely to substantially exceed 52 weeks.
5) A decision to treat a person as a temporary resident must be agreed with the person and/or their representative and written into their care plan.
6) In some cases a person may enter a care home with the intention of a permanent stay but a change in circumstances could result in it being temporary. In such cases the local authority should treat the person as temporary from the date of admission for the purposes of charging.
7) Similarly a stay which was initially intended to be temporary could become permanent. In such cases, the financial assessment of the person as a permanent resident should only be from the date that the care plan is amended and agreed with the person and/or their representative.
8) A local authority can choose whether or not to charge a person where it is arranging to meet needs. In the case of a short-term resident in a care home, the local authority has discretion to assess and charge as if the person were having needs met other than by the provision of accommodation in a care home.
Assessing ability to pay
9) Once a local authority has decided to charge a person and it has been agreed that they are a temporary resident, the local authority must undertake the financial assessment in accordance with the following guidance.
10) The person’s main or only home must be disregarded where the person:
(a) Intends to return to that property as their main or only home and it remains available to them
(b) Has taken steps to dispose of the home in order to acquire one that is more suitable and intends to return to that property
11) Any other capital assets should be treated in the same way as for permanent residents. Guidance is set out in Annex B.
Income and earnings
12) Both income and earnings should be treated in the same way as for permanent residents, as set out in Annex C on income. However, any additional amounts the person may need so they can maintain their home during their temporary stay so that it is in a fit condition for them to return to must be disregarded. Such expenses may include, but are not limited to, ground rent, service charges, water rates or insurance premiums.
13) However, the local authority should also take into account the following additional points.
14) Where Attendance Allowance or Disability Living Allowance is being received, these should be completely disregarded. However, a local authority should note that eligibility for both these benefits ceases after 4 weeks of local authority support and they should make sure they consider the impact on the person’s ability to maintain their home.
15) Where a stay in a care home is temporary, the amount of an Income Support or Pension Credit a person receives will usually remain the same as they will be treated as normally residing in their own home. However, any severe disability premium or enhanced disability premium that may have been included will no longer be paid if the Disability Living Allowance or Attendance Allowance has ceased. There are special rules for Income Support and income related Employment Support Allowance where one member of a couple enters a care home for a temporary period. This should be taken into account in considering what a person can afford to pay.
16) If Housing Benefit is paid to the person, this should be disregarded as they will still be responsible for meeting any costs associate with their main or only home.
17) The local authority should also disregard any other payment the person receives in order to meet the cost of their housing and/or to support independent living. For example this may include payments to provide warden support, emergency alarms or the meeting of cleaning costs where the person or someone in the household is unable to do this themselves.
18) The local authority should also consider whether any payments to support the cost of housing and/or independent living are sufficient to cover the person’s commitments during their temporary stay. This might be as these costs were met from earnings, which are disregarded, that are not being accrued during the temporary stay. In such cases, the local authority should calculate the additional cost and disregard this amount.
19) Where a person is sub-letting their property, this should be disregarded where the person occupies the property as their main or only home as they intend to return to the property.
20) Alternatively a person may have a boarder living in their property. A boarder is someone for whom at least one cooked meal is provided. Where a person has income from a boarder, the first £20 of the income should be ignored plus half of any balance over £20.