A-Z

Paying for social care (older people)

Benefits and other help with funding care

This page covers:
• Discounts and benefits for people paying for care
• How people found out about discounts and benefits
• Reasons why application forms were hard to complete and getting help to do so

People who are not eligible for funding from their local councils towards paying for care may be able to apply for state benefits and other types of financial support. 

Many of the people we spoke to were getting Attendance Allowance which is a state benefit that is not means-tested. People also told us about council tax exemptions for people receiving care, blue badges for parking, and Carers Allowance. Some people mentioned NHS funding; for more about this, see What is continuing healthcare (CHC)?. Sometimes people asked for discounts for water, gas or electricity because of the extra costs of care, like extra washing. Frances talks about asking for a discount from her water company because of the extra baths her father needed.

 

Frances talks about the range of benefits and discounts available.

Frances talks about the range of benefits and discounts available.

Age at interview: 52
Sex: Female
SHOW TEXT VERSION
EMBED CODE
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

Yeah, yeah, I couldn’t get Carer’s Allowance because I earned too, you, you can only, I work the right amount of hours, you can only work sixteen hours a week but you can only earn, well at the time you could only earn £100 a week and I earned just over £100 a week so I couldn’t get carer’s allowance but Attendance Allowance he got. And we also got because we lived together so we didn’t have to pay for a television licence, which I thought was a bit weird because he didn’t watch the telly, we did [laughs] but I did, you know, I did say, “Well it’s OK, we, you know, we’re a whole family living there.” But they said, no, we didn’t have to pay and we got twenty-five percent off the [sighs] council tax.

I did approach the Water Board because they do, do discounts, depending on your needs, for hygiene care, but although my dad was needing regular baths because of his continence issues and I did again argue the toss to main, you know, to maintain his skin integrity he needed proper hygiene care but they weren’t buying it you literally can only get money off if you had certain types of eczema and psoriasis you know, it was a condition label rather than a what was required label but I tried.

 

Janine paid for care for her mum but was still eligible for Carer’s Allowance.

Janine paid for care for her mum but was still eligible for Carer’s Allowance.

Age at interview: 63
Sex: Female
SHOW TEXT VERSION
EMBED CODE
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

But the other thing with Attendance Allowance is I could get Carer’s Allowance then because I was doing the majority of the care. Even when you get carers I still got Carer’s Allowance.

And so was that based on your, your activity, how many hours you were helping her?

Yeah, yeah, that’s right, based on how many hours I was there helping her, which it was a lot really, I didn’t realise I was going over quite a lot of times you know, and it, and it’s, and the one thing with having the carers there it meant that I knew she was safe and that she, that, you know, there was somebody making sure she was eating and stuff, so when I went over to see her I wasn’t there cleaning up messes and doing stuff, I was there taking her out, so she’d got social, you know.

Rosemary, who cared for her husband, remembered having a carer’s assessment from her local council and being given a grant of about £300 to spend on time to herself, like joining an art class or a leisure centre or having a few days away. Carer’s assessments are free and look at the kinds of help that can make a carer’s life easier. June found out she could pay council tax in a lower band after having a ground floor extension and shower room for her husband. Her council told her about this. Some of the costs of the extension were also free from VAT because it was built for a disabled person.

A lot of the people we spoke to found out about these benefits and other types of help with funding from friends and family or groups they were involved with. Charities also let people know about these benefits but people were surprised that local councils didn’t routinely let people know.

 

Marie talks about the different places she went for information.

Marie talks about the different places she went for information.

Age at interview: 40
Sex: Female
SHOW TEXT VERSION
EMBED CODE
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

I mean the Citizens’ Advice Bureau is a good place to go if you’re concerned about whether you’re eligible for certain support as is the Department of Work & Pensions, as I’ve mentioned. the local authority in [county] also has a benefits team who, who will give you a free assessment of what benefits you’re entitled to, depending on the disability that the person has who’s, who’s looking for support. There’s different types of benefits that you can get to contribute towards if you have got to self-fund that isn’t means tested as well. So yeah, that’s something that people can look into.

So it’s worth looking for, even if you’re a self-funder it’s worth looking at these places for extra information?

Yeah, it’s, it’s always best to check to see if there is any more help that you’re entitled to. It’s like I had to persuade my dad to apply for Attendance Allowance, because he’d always been one that he’d never ever had benefits or ever applied for anything off the government all of his life, and why would he want to do that? But I explained that, “Well actually, you know, people get a lot more help and support if they’ve not got money so just because you’ve not got the” sorry “just because you’ve got the money, dad, you can still get that help and support that mum’s entitled to.” She’s still entitled to that Attendance Allowance regarding how much money they’ve got and my dad has been pleased with that because he sees that as going towards the cost of the care.

 

Sinclair didn’t get much information from the council but had a friend who was very helpful.

Sinclair didn’t get much information from the council but had a friend who was very helpful.

Age at interview: 92
Sex: Male
SHOW TEXT VERSION
EMBED CODE
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

And also is there an Attendance Allowance contribution?

Yes, and I have applied and have been granted Attendance Allowance for both of us, yes. I must say if you, well, allow side bar, I found that when we were looking into all the questions of allowances and everything else there was all sorts of council departments, town council local government authority who were, who were capable of dealing with these things until you said that you were outside the financial limit and there you’re on your own, that’s it. Fortunately I’ve got a very good friend, a lady who’s retired and seems to have made it her duty to find out what allowances [laughs] any of her friends get and negotiate them, yeah. Yeah, and it was because of her help that we actually knew about such things. As I say if you go to council here- to care, then there’s all sorts of people with the information but when you say it’ll, it’ll be privately funded they, that’s the end, yeah.

Applying for these benefits was time-consuming. Many people commented on how long the application forms were, especially for Attendance Allowance, and how difficult it was to fill the forms in. Sons and daughters found it hard to think about and write down the details of what their parents were struggling with. Getting help and advice on how to complete the forms was really appreciated.

 

The Alzheimer’s Society helped Hannah complete the Attendance Allowance application form.

The Alzheimer’s Society helped Hannah complete the Attendance Allowance application form.

Age at interview: 53
Sex: Female
SHOW TEXT VERSION
EMBED CODE
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

The Alzheimer’s Society were fantastic in helping me get mum’s Attendance Allowance, because the first time I applied for that we weren’t successful because there is an art in writing these, and actually one of the hardest things to do is to write about your parent so the Alzheimer’s Society were invaluable in helping me do that.

 

A nurse advised Jacky on the kinds of things to say on the application form.

A nurse advised Jacky on the kinds of things to say on the application form.

Age at interview: 65
Sex: Female
SHOW TEXT VERSION
EMBED CODE
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

Well also that mental health nurse, she told me, which I think we did before the financial assessment that that mental health nurse also told me about Attendance Allowance, because she very importantly, because it’s quite a complicated form, the Attendance Allowance, and she was the one that told me that not to be dishonest but she explained that there are two rates, the standard rate and the higher rate, and so she said, “When you’re filling it in take the worst day and fill it in as though it’s like that every day because,” she said, “if you don’t do that you won’t get the higher rate of Attendance allowance.” And this is what I mean that you just, if nobody had told me that I would have been [sighs] probably more honest, if that’s the word, about filling it in and I probably wouldn’t have got the higher rate but as it turned out, because you are paying for all these care, carers coming in yourself, or my parents were, it was very important to get the higher rate. So to cut a long story short, they did both get the higher rate Attendance Allowance, so that was that.

Some people can feel uncomfortable claiming these types of allowances because they have never claimed any benefits before. Others don’t want to accept that they need care. And not everyone spends the money on care, but even the little extras that people get can be really helpful.

 

Nadra’s dad is loving the help he can pay for with Attendance Allowance.

Nadra’s dad is loving the help he can pay for with Attendance Allowance.

Age at interview: 62
Sex: Female
SHOW TEXT VERSION
EMBED CODE
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

Dad’s, anyway he was, he was awarded Attendance Allowance at the higher rate and so he then which included having, you know monitors and everything in the house; so we’ve got all that in; and he’s paying for care, he’s paying for somebody to come in every morning to make sure he has his medication and his breakfast and he’s loving it.

 

Frances still did the cleaning for her mum even though she could have paid for this with Attendance Allowance.

Frances still did the cleaning for her mum even though she could have paid for this with Attendance Allowance.

Age at interview: 52
Sex: Female
SHOW TEXT VERSION
EMBED CODE
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

So things like the council tax was already in place when they were living together and Attendance Allowance was already in place and then my mum also ended up with Attendance Allowance although she seemed to, she seemed to not understand what that meant; you know, it wasn’t that she could go and buy some more clothes at Marks’s, it was; so she never, she had physical problems so they needed help with cleaning and stuff, but she never got a cleaner, it was always me doing it, and then I didn’t get paid [laughs] and thinking hang on a minute, this is what your Attendance Allowance is for. And I do think that’s, I’ve come across that with so many people that they’re managing together, then they can get this funding, so they spend this extra money on something and then when they need something they’re not actually acknowledging that the Attendance Allowance is for that, and so therefore, no, you can’t, but then it’s changing their life and, yeah, so.

 

The process of finding out about and applying for allowances and other funds to help with paying for care was quite haphazard. People told us that what they really wanted was someone to tell them what the options were and when they should be thinking about them.

 

Looking back, Sarah wished someone had been checking in to see if her parents were getting all the right allowances.

Looking back, Sarah wished someone had been checking in to see if her parents were getting all the right allowances.

SHOW TEXT VERSION
EMBED CODE
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

Yeah, I just, I just wish we’d had more guidance from somebody; I don’t know whether it should have been from the NHS or from Social Care about, you know, what we could do and where we could go and at what point we should apply for higher level atten, you know, there was nobody sort of checking in on how things were going and, as I say, was that my fault, did I, you know, should we have been asking for that or more or, you know, it would have been, but it would have been nice to, you know, somebody; they knew that my mum and dad both had Alzheimer’s and were living at home, and to have more support for us as a family going through this whole process would have, would have been, would have been good.

donate
Previous Page
Next Page