Are Next of Kin Responsible for Care Home Fees?

There is a lot to consider when moving a loved one into a care home, with  one of the biggest considerations being how the fees are going to be paid  and by whom. Unless a signed contract is in place, the next of kin is not  responsible for the care home fees of their loved one.  

This article will detail who pays care home fees, how the fees are paid and  who is responsible for care home fees after death.  

Why do you have to pay care home fees?  

Care home fees have to be continually paid to receive the care, support and  services the care home provides. If the payment of fees falls behind or stops  being paid altogether, your loved one may be at risk of being moved from  their current care home to a less costly residency that may not be suitable to  their physical or emotional needs. 

What is the average cost of a care home? 

The average cost of care home fees can vary widely depending upon the  area of the country, the level of care provided and the range of lifestyle  services, and can range from £27,000 to over £75,000 per year. Those with  complex care needs or who require one-to-one support will pay higher fees  than those with fewer care requirements.

It’s important to note that care home costs tend to be higher in the South of  England, particularly in London and the Southeast, compared to the North or  Midlands. Additionally, the cost may vary based on whether the care home is  privately owned or operated by a local authority or the National Health  Service (NHS).

What do care home fees cover? 

Care homes have fees to cover a variety of services such as:

● Care services depending on your needs (more complex needs will  usually require more support which means a higher cost) 

● Accommodation cost 

● Cleaning services e.g. laundry, keeping communal areas clean

● Dining and drinks 

● Activities, entertainment and sometimes trips out 

● Utility costs 

Who pays care home fees?  

For the most part, residents themselves are responsible for paying their own  care home fees. The fees are usually determined by the local authority and  the level of care needed through an assessment. 

The fees can also be paid in the following ways: 

● Local authority funding: Some or all of the care is funded through the  local authority. Relatives and friends can also contribute to the fees an  additional voluntary payment known as a “top-up fee”. 

● NHS funding: In the case of individuals with complex health needs due  to disability, accident or major illness, the NHS may be able to cover  the care home or nursing home needs. 

● Self-funding: The resident uses their own money, including savings,  assets or regular income, to cover their care needs. 

Having a means test 

The first step in your care home journey is to undergo a means test by your  local council authority. The means test is to help you and your loved one  understand the level of care required and how the financial cost is to be  paid. 

The means test is divided into two parts. The first part is a care needs  assessment that determines the care needs and levels of support. The  second part is a financial assessment that analyses the individual’s savings,  pension, and assets to understand if the costs can be covered themselves or  if funding will be needed. Family and shared assets are not included in this  assessment. 

Am I legally responsible for my family member’s fees? 

Next of kin are not legally responsible for paying family member’s care fees  unless a signed contract is in place that states it is your responsibility.

Where there is no contract, you can choose to assist should you wish to, but there is no obligation to do so.

Is there any funding available?  

As previously mentioned, there are some funds available to help your loved  ones have access to a care home should they financially be unable to afford  it themselves. These are local authority care home fee support and NHS care  home funding. 

Local authority care home fee support 

The council may be able to pay for the cost of your social care if you have  less than £23,250 in savings. The exact amount that the council will pay will  depend on how much care you need and how much you can afford to pay.  This is where the means test comes in to determine the funding you will  receive. 

NHS care home funding 

Alternatively, the NHS can pay for the nursing care portion of your care home  fees through a flat rate directly to the care home. Like the local authority  care home fee support, there is an assessment to determine your eligibility  for NHS-funded nursing care. 

Who is responsible for care home fees after death? 

In the unfortunate circumstance that your loved one passes away, it is still  not the responsibility of the next of kin to pay care home fees. Instead, the  care home will issue an invoice for any outstanding fees and they will be paid  from the person’s estate.  

The only time in which a next of kin would pay these outstanding fees is if a  contract has been signed where you have agreed to pay them. 

Care home funding with Porthaven Care Homes  

We understand that care home fees and funding are a complicated matter,  which is why all of our Porthaven homes have specialist financial advisors  affiliated with the home to give you the peace of mind you need. Should you  need support understanding Government Funding at our care homes or general financial advice, our home managers or client services managers can  help put you in touch with an advisor on a no-obligation basis.