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Paying for a care home

If you are thinking of moving into a care home you may be able to get help to pay for the costs.

How do I get help paying for care?

If you think that you need someone to help look after you, you can ask the social work department at your council to carry out an social work assessment of your care needs. They may decide that:

  • you do not qualify for any help
  • you require help in your home
  • you qualify for help in a care home (also known as a residential home or nursing home).

If you qualify for help in your own home there will normally be options as to how the care is provided. Depending on your circumstances, you may need to contribute to the costs of paying for your care at home.

What are the costs of being in a care home?

In a care home there are three separate costs:

  • personal care costs - this can include help with washing, managing continence, preparing food, moving around the home and taking medication.
  • nursing care costs - care from a nurse or doctor
  • hotel costs - everyday accommodation and general living costs, e.g. food.

Will I have to pay personal care and nursing costs?

If you are over 65 and your local council's social work department decides that you need care in a care home, and you have the means to fully fund your care, it will contribute towards your personal care and/or nursing care.

If you are under 65 and have the means to fully fund your own care, you may be eligible for the contribution towards nursing care, but not personal care.

If you are receiving contributions towards your personal care costs in a care home, you will no longer be entitled to attendance allowance or the care component of disability living allowance.

See the Scottish Government's free personal care information for more details.

Will I have to pay hotel costs?

Hotel costs are costs of everyday living, for example accommodation and food. The social work department will carry out a financial assessment to decide if you can contribute to these costs. The financial assessment will take into account your income and any savings that you have.

  • If you have capital of less than £16,250 this will not be taken into account in the financial assessment. Capital can be savings, investments and property, so includes an estimated value of your home, if you own it. Your income, such as any pensions and benefits, will also be taken into account.
  • If you have capital of more than £26,250 you will not be entitled to any help with your hotel costs (see above for what hotel costs are). You may still be entitled to the free personal and nursing care payment though.
  • If you have less than £26,250 capital you will have to make a contribution to your hotel costs. You must be left with a weekly living allowance of at least £21.90.

The social work department should be able to show, in writing, how they worked out what your contribution should be. You should not have to pay any more than the actual costs.

Can I get housing benefit when I'm in a care home?

No, you can't claim housing benefit to help pay for your stay in a care home.

However, if you're staying there temporarily and are planning to return to your original home, you can claim housing benefit to help pay the rent. Get further details on claiming housing benefit while you're away from home.

Will I have to sell my home?

If you're a homeowner the council will consider the value of the property when carrying out its financial assessment, unless you're moving into a care home for a short time, or any of the following people still live in your home:

  • your husband or wife, civil partner or cohabiting partner
  • a relative who is over 60
  • a relative under 16 that you support
  • a relative who is incapacitated or disabled
  • a divorced or estranged partner, who is a lone parent with a dependent child.

The council can also choose not to take into account the value of your home if your carer still lives there, and has given up their own home to look after you.

If you can't afford to pay your hotel costs out of your income and/or savings, you may have to sell your home in order to meet the costs.

What if I pay the costs myself?

If you're able to pay the costs yourself you don't need a social work care or financial assessment.

However, if you want to qualify for the free personal and nursing care payment you'll need to have a social work care assessment.

Where can I get help and advice?

  • To find advice and care services in your area visit Care Information Scotland.
  • For information and advice specifically for older people visit Age Scotland or call their helpline on 0800 12 44 222.

Scotland map Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.
This content applies to Scotland only.
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The important points

  • To stay in a care home there are several separate costs - personal care, nursing care and hotel costs.
  • Your age, income, savings and property will help the council decide which costs and how much of them they will ask you to pay.
  • You can't get housing benefit to help pay for staying in a care home but it can help pay your rent for your normal home if you're in a care home temporarily.

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