5. How is respite care funded?
There are a range of options that may be appropriate when it comes to funding respite care.
Some respite care services may be provided free of charge by the local authority. Many are means-tested and because respite care is provided as a service to the person you are looking after, they may have to contribute towards the cost. The local authority will calculate the cost of the services to be provided and then financially assess the person, to see how much they should contribute to the cost of these services.
If a person with dementia is funding the respite care themselves, they should contact the organisation providing the respite care directly to ask about availability and to sort out the financial arrangements. It is important to gain a thorough understanding of what is included in any contract to provide care and support. This will help to avoid misunderstandings or unexpected costs.
The local authority can charge the person with dementia for short-term stays in care homes (under eight weeks) in one of two ways.
- They can assess the amount they should pay based on their income and capital and according to national rules for financial assessment for temporary care.
- They can charge what they think is a ‘reasonable’ amount, although this should take account of individual circumstances and leave the person with enough money to run their household. There are national rules about how much the person should be left to live on. A financial assessment may be carried out to establish how much the person should pay.
Care in the community
If care is provided at home, the local authority can ask the person with dementia to pay a ‘reasonable’ amount toward the cost. As with temporary respite stays in care homes, the person must be left with enough money to run their home and to live.
After a needs assessment, an amount of money is identified as being necessary to meet the person’s needs. A person with dementia may decide to receive this in the form of a direct payment. This is a payment that goes directly to the person to pay for their care and support. Direct payments aim to give people greater flexibility and choice over how their needs are met. They can be used in a number of ways, such as employing a personal assistant, taking a break, or for respite care in a care home for up to four weeks in any 12-month period. However, the direct payment can only be spent as agreed in the person’s support plan.
As a carer you may also be entitled to a direct payment, depending on your need for support. Again, it must be used to meet the needs and achieve the goals identified in your support plan. You might want to hire a paid carer from an agency – for example, to help with shopping trips – or use the direct payment to pay for a supported holiday or for education. The local authority can give you information on direct payments and eligibility. See also Personal budgets. The majority of this page applies to England, but the ‘Direct payments’ section is also relevant to Wales.
You may be able to get help with the cost of respite care or taking a break from a charity, grant-making trust or benevolent fund. Ex-service organisations, as well as those that support retired people in a particular type of work, may also help. The local carers’ centre or Alzheimer’s Society can advise on what is available locally. You can also go to alzheimers.org.uk/dementiaconnect to see what is available near you.
There may also be national organisations that can help. For more information see ‘Other useful organisations’ and Paying for care and support in Wales.
Carer’s allowance is a benefit paid to carers who meet certain criteria. One of these is that the person they care for receives Disability living allowance (DLA), Personal independence payment (PIP) or Attendance allowance (AA). These are sometimes known as ‘qualifying benefits’.
If someone with dementia goes into a care home or hospital, after 28 days they will usually stop receiving these qualifying benefits. This means that a carer would no longer receive Carer’s allowance. However, a short period of respite care (no longer than 28 days) would not affect a carer’s entitlement to Carer’s allowance. If the carer goes into hospital, Carer’s allowance can continue for up to 12 weeks in a 26 week time span.
Carer’s allowance can be complicated. To check if you are eligible for Carer’s allowance and other benefits, contact Citizens Advice or another local organisation such as Age Cymru for a full benefits check. For details see ‘Other useful organisations’.