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Care for the elderly under fire

Amid a raft of criticism of the UK government’s lack of commitment to an overhaul of social care, there is little to look forward to for those who elect or need to go down the residential care home route.

Opposition ministers, council leaders, campaigners and those working in the social care sector have voiced strenuous criticism after the government recently failed to commit to a £35,000 lifetime cap on residential care costs as recommended by economist Andrew Dilnot.

Now the government has come forward with a loan scheme to fund social care where the loan is repaid after the death of the person from their estate and with accrued interest.  In other words, virtually unlimited open access to the estate!

At no time has there been a stronger argument for NOT going into residential care; it’s going to be like handing the keys of your bank over to the state.

So how can our aging relatives spend their latter years in comfort and security?  For while a residential home may offer comfort, the security cushion has been taken away.  There may be no security for the estate of your relatives after their death.

The answer is for them to stay in their own home, but how do they achieve this?  It is a fact that not everyone can do so, but there is a growing band of middle class elderly for whom this option is viable and provides the comfort and security they need while minimising costs.

For many the answer could lie in employing a live-in carer and there are several means by which this can be achieved:

Firstly, of course, your relatives may be able to fund the cost out of their own resources, from either savings, income, pensions or a life insurance payment following the death of a partner.

Then there are options available from specialised insurance companies which can offer either a care provision plan for a one-off payment which will provide a monthly income, or there is the option of taking out what is effectively a loan with them against the value of your relatives’ home, while they continue to live in it.

So how do the costs stack up?  Our research shows that in London and the Home Counties, the cost at a residential care home can be up to £1,500 per week, an annual cost of £78,000.

Against these substantial costs we can provide a skilled carer with experience of meeting the needs of the elderly at an average cost of £950 per week, an annual cost of £49,400.  That is a difference of £28,600, compared with the approximate annual residential care home cost of £78,000.

This cost difference is huge; residential care eats into an estate at an alarming rate, even for those with a sizable estate on which to rely.

But it is the emotional aspect of retained independence and the comfort and psychological security of remaining in one’s own home that is beyond price.

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