Money Advice Service

As you approach retirement, you might be thinking about how you’ll cope with the costs of paying for long-term care, either for yourself or for a relative. Or you might find that you are caring for someone who can no longer look after themselves.

This guide gives you an overview of what long-term care is available, who pays for care and how to find the information to work out what’s the best option for you.

What kind of long-term care?

If you or a relative are struggling to manage with everyday living because of illness or disability, you might need long-term care.

The first step to arranging care is to ask your local authority to carry out a care needs assessment, to work out:

  • What help you need
  • What care is available, and
  • How much of it you’ll have to pay for.

Care can be provided either in your home or in a care home.

This is a big decision and will be based on your personal circumstances, such as:

  • What kind of care you need
  • Where you want to live, and
  • How much money you have to pay for care.

Find out more about other care options in our guide: Long-term-care services at a glance.

Who pays for long-term care?

If the local authority decides that you have eligible care needs, they’ll carry out a financial assessment to work out how much you have to pay towards the costs of care.

The amount you pay will depend on your income, savings and assets, and, if you go into residential care, might include the value of your home.

If you have to contribute towards the costs of long-term care there are many ways to pay for it and it’s important to look at each one to see whether it’s right for you.

Getting advice to plan for long-term care

Whether you’re planning ahead for long-term care, or you need to find a solution urgently, it’s a good idea to talk to a specialist financial adviser.

They can help you work out:

  • The best way for you to fund care
  • Which care option best suits your needs
  • How much money you might need for your care

Getting good financial advice can mean you could:

  • Make a fully-informed decision about the best way to pay for care
  • Be sure that your future care needs and those of your dependents are provided for
  • Make the best use of your income, savings and assets, particularly if you own your home
  • Have a greater choice of care-funding options that you might not have found by yourself
  • Get help with claiming benefits that you could use towards paying for the cost of your care
  • Get expert help with understanding a complex care system, particularly if you’re facing the stress of urgent care needs

Using your local authority to find financial advice for long-term care

The Care Act 2014 says that local authorities must now try to help you find financial information and advice that will help you plan and pay for your care needs.

This can range from helping you to filling in benefit claim forms to showing you where you can get regulated independent financial advice about choosing the best long-term care option for you.

They will also be able to put you in touch with local organisations and advisers.

Contact your local authority to find out how they can help you.

If you become a carer

It’s possible that after retirement you might find yourself caring for a spouse, partner or relative who has long-term care needs.

If you are looking after someone, it’s important that you have a carer’s assessment to find out if you’re eligible for any financial support from your local authority.

You should also check if you’re able to claim any carer’s benefits.

Find out more about Support services and financial help available to carers.

Money worries can build up if you’re a carer, particularly if you’re looking after someone full time.

If you’re struggling to manage financially or you’re falling into debt, it’s important that you get advice about what to do.

The sooner you deal with debts or money worries, the quicker you can get back on track.

To find debt advice that’s free, impartial and confidential, see Where to get free debt advice.

For more help and support as a carer, go to the Carer’s UK website.

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.