Your guide to care and support

Planning for your future care needs

It's a good idea to think about and plan the care you might need in the future. The long-term cost of care can be significant, and while none of us like to think we will become old, ill or disabled, it does happen.

Likewise, if you're the parent of a disabled child, it's vital to plan their future care and how it will be funded.

The cost of long-term care

It's never too soon to think about the potential costs of your future care needs.

Currently, if you have more than £23,250 in savings, you must meet the full cost of your care.

The Care Act 2014 created new provisions that will come into force from April 2020. It will introduce a cap on care costs that, for the first time ever, will offer you protection from the risk of losing everything you have to meet the cost of your care.

It will do this by setting a maximum amount you will have to pay towards your eligible care needs. This figure will be set nationally, but you will pay much less if you're eligible for local authority support to meet your costs. Once you reach the cap, your local authority will take over meeting the costs.

However, this only applies directly to care services you're eligible for, and you will still have to pay other costs, such as a contribution towards your accommodation.

If you turn 18 with an eligible care and support need, your cap will be set at zero.

Will the value of my home count?

If you're being assessed for care in your own home, the value of your home is not counted in your savings. If you move into a care home, the value of your home will be counted.

How your local council can help

Local councils have a duty to provide or arrange services that help you to stay independent for as long as possible.

Even if you don't want or need financial assistance with your care, your local council can still help you plan your care.

Contact the adult social services of your local council to find the options available to you.

Your local council should make clear:

  • what types of care and support are available – such as dementia care, befriending services, care after discharge from hospital, personal assistance and care homes
  • how you access the care and support that is available
  • where you can get independent financial advice about care and support
  • how you can raise concerns about the safety or wellbeing of someone who has care and support needs

If you think you need care now, or will in the very near future, the best way to plan your care and find out about your care needs is to ask your local council for a care needs assessment.

The sooner you ask for an assessment, the sooner plans can be made for your care. These plans should include what ought to be done in the event of an emergency.

Getting financial advice

Local councils have a duty to help you get independent financial advice so you can plan and prepare for future care costs.

This covers a range of services, from general sources of information and advice, such as websites or telephone helplines, to tailored advice relating to specific financial products, which can only be provided by a regulated financial adviser. Some of these services may charge a fee.

The Money Advice Service has tips on planning ahead for a time when you can't manage your own finances.

Making decisions about your future care needs

If you're a young person with disabilities and you have long-term care needs, try to make plans for expected future changes in your life. This could, for example, be arranging help with transport so you can get a job or stay in your current employment.

Find out about transitioning from child to adult care and support.

If you're nearing retirement age, consider setting up a Power of Attorney or an advanced decision (living will). These help people to take account of your preferences if you lose the capacity to make decisions.

There are several things to consider when planning social care, including:

  • the type of health problem you have, and the best ways for you to stay healthy and independent 
  • the type of care you would prefer, and whether it would meet your needs
  • where you would like to be cared for – in your own home, in a residential care setting such as a care home, or in the community while you are living at home 
  • how much your care is likely to cost and whether you may be entitled to free care or financial help
  • who you want to care for you and whether, if you want friends or family to be your carers, they are able and willing to do so

More information

If you're making plans for your future care, at whatever stage, it's worth getting advice:

  • Which? Elderly Care has good practical advice about social care for older people
  • Citizens Advice has information on benefits, such as Attendance Allowance, if you're sick or disabled
  • Age UK has information on all aspects of care and support – you can also call the helpline on 0800 055 6112
  • Independent Age has advice and support on social care – you can also call the helpline on 0800 319 6789.

If you have difficulty communicating or exerting your rights, you may want to have an advocate. This is someone who accompanies you to assessments, meetings and so on to help you and make sure your voice is heard. Your local council's social services department may offer an advocacy service.

If you have a specific health problem, ask your GP surgery for information on the relevant groups and organisations.

Media last reviewed: 12 May 2016

Media review due: 12 Dec 2018

Page last reviewed: 09/04/2018
Next review due: 09/04/2021