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Please note that the information provided here is of a general nature only and for more detailed advice on what you are covered for you must refer to your policy or to your insurance company.

Long Term Care

Advances in medical science mean many people can now expect to live for at least twenty to thirty years after their retirement. This longer life expectancy means the chances of requiring special nursing care or other help during later life are increased. This type of help is often referred to as long term care.

Long term care is care that is required on a long term basis, often for the rest of a person£s life, either in their own home or in a residential care home.

Whilst getting older is a certainty, unfailing health is not. It is a sad fact that the older you are, the greater your chance of suffering from some kind of ill health. For example, figures from the Alzheimer£s Disease Society show that instances of dementia increase with age to the point where those aged between seventy and eighty have a one in twenty chance of suffering from dementia.

With this in mind, and taking into account the high costs of long term care, it is important to be financially prepared should you find yourself needing some form of long term care in later life. Failure to plan adequately for such an event could see your life savings, that you have worked so hard top build up, wiped away in a very short period of time.

Many of us have planned ahead for our retirement by making use of pensions and other forms of investments. But far fewer people make plans for the costs of long term care.

When you are looking forward to a long and happy retirement, it is easy to overlook the fact that you might need long term care at some point in the future. It is very easy to say that long term care is something to be dealt with if and when the need arises. 

Different people may need different sorts of long term care. These care needs fall into one of two types:

Personal Care
This refers to non-medical help with the needs of day to day living. This would include things such as help with getting dressed, getting in and out of bed, or with bathing/showering. It could also include assistance with housework or gardening. This type of care is often required by people who are frail rather than actually ill.

Nursing Care
This is medical care associated with an illness or the need for clinical treatment. It is a more specialist type of care requiring a qualified nurse.

Both personal care and nursing care can be provided in your own home or in a residential care home.

Domiciliary Care
This is the term used to describe care (either personal care or nursing care) which is administered in your home. This may be provided informally by a family member, or it might be formal care from a care worker paid for either by yourself or, in some cases, by the local authority.

Residential Care
This is care you receive in a long-stay care home. Again, this may include either personal care or nursing care.

What is long term care insurance£

A long term care insurance policy will - as the name suggests - pay for the costs of long term care either in a residential or nursing home or in your own house. Like most insurance policies, the payout occurs only in defined circumstances and in return for the payment of regular premiums.

There is no precise definition of 'long term care'. However, broadly the phrase covers care that is likely to be needed for the foreseeable future and which results from permanent conditions. Arthritis, dementia and strokes are examples (ie conditions where the NHS is not under any obligation to provide treatment for a sustained period of time). You would not normally be entitled to receive payment under a long term care insurance policy where you are recovering from a short term illness.

Payments under long term care insurance policies are usually made for some or all of the following:

  • the costs of staying in a residential home

  • the costs of someone looking after you in your home

  • the costs of replacing, say, a member of your family who is looking after you with a temporary paid carer while the family member goes away (eg on holiday)

  • the costs of installing specialist equipment in your home (eg stair lifts, handles etc)

  • the costs of certain medical services such as speech or occupational therapy or physiotherapy

The following would usually be excluded from the definition of long term care. Costs which result from: schizophrenia, depression or other similar conditions,  self inflicted harm (eg attempted suicide), HIV/AIDS
 

What are the State's obligations regarding long term care£

The State is not under any obligation to fund the cost of care for the elderly unless such care requires hospital treatment.

Those with long term disabilities are obviously entitled to receive specific disability allowances. But you should assume that you will need to look after yourself - in a financial sense - in your old age. There are exceptions for the very poorest:

  • if you have total assets of less than 11,500 the State will normally pay for the costs of long term care.
    (Total assets meaning, for this purpose, cash, savings and investments but also the value of your property 3 months after you move into a home if no other member of your family is living there. If you own your own home it may be sold to pay for the cost of care. )

  • if you have total assets of between £11,500 and £18,500 the State will normally pay for some of the cost of long term care.   

  • if you have total assets of more than £18,500 the Sate will not normally pay for any of the costs of long term care.

 

 
 

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