Paying for social care (older people)
Definitions and terminology
We have used some terms that may not be familiar. There are also some terms that people use quite regularly but in different ways. This page explains what we mean by:
- A self-funder
- Adult social care
- A carer or family carer
- A paid care worker
- A care home
What is a self-funder?
A self-funder is a person who pays all the costs of their social care and support themselves. Their local council doesn’t contribute towards the costs of their care. Local councils can contribute to the cost of someone’s care if they have savings and assets below a nationally set threshold. Assets are things of value such as property or stocks and shares – but if a person lives in their property while they’re receiving care, that isn’t counted as an asset. People are usually self-funders because they have savings and assets above the national threshold. Where we have used the term ‘self-funder’, we have clarified that we mean someone who is paying for their care.
So what is social care?
Social care is the help and support provided so that disabled and older people can live as well and as independently as possible. When we refer to care for older people, we talk about adult social care. Many people use the term ‘social services’ when they talk about help from their local council. We have used the term local council adult social care department. This is because this is the term that local councils and other official organisations use, and ‘adult social care’ is a good term to use when searching for information online, especially on local council websites.
What is the difference between a family carer and a paid care worker?
Many of the people we spoke to were relatives of older people paying for care. Usually they were wives, husbands, daughters or sons. We have referred to these relatives as carers or family carers. Sometimes on the internet or in other organisations the terms unpaid carer or informal carer are used. The term carer helps to distinguish family carers from paid care workers who are the people employed by home care agencies or in care homes to help care for people. Some care workers are also self-employed.
What is a care home?
Finally, we have used the term care home to mean any kind of care home, whether it provides residential care only or nursing care as well. We have only used the terms residential and nursing home where it is important to differentiate between them. The difference is that a nursing home will have at least one qualified nurse on duty to provide nursing care whereas a residential care home does not.