Respite care in Northern Ireland

5. Paying for short-term care

If the person with dementia or someone they know wants to pay for the total cost of short-term care (they don’t have to do this), they can make their own arrangements. Care homes providing nursing care are generally more expensive than homes providing residential care only. However, fees for either vary greatly.

The person with dementia should have a community care assessment (see below) even if they are paying for the care themselves. This will help to establish what kind of care they need. HSC trusts can choose whether to charge for respite care – most do. If they charge, the cost must be ‘reasonable’. If a person feels that the fee is unreasonable, they can request a financial assessment.

Community care assessments

If the person with dementia and their carer need help with the cost of care, at least one of them (see ‘Carers’ assessments’ below) will need a community care assessment. The local HSC trust arranges these. HSC trusts differ in their procedures and the services they consider to be priorities. (See factsheet NI418, Community care assessment.)

Carers’ assessments

Carers are eligible for an assessment of their own needs in relation to their caring role. If someone is caring for a person with dementia and has not had an assessment of their needs, they should ask their HSC trust for one.

HSC trusts can provide carers with services in their own right, to help maintain their health and wellbeing. This may include help with short-term care either in the person’s own home or in a care home. However, in some cases, the person’s income may be assessed and they may be asked to contribute towards the cost of care.

HSC trusts arrangements

If a person has been assessed as needing and qualifying for short-term care, the HSC trust may provide it. However, the person with dementia may be asked to contribute towards the cost.

The HSC trust can charge the person with dementia for short-term stays in care homes (of under eight weeks) in one of two ways. They can either assess the amount they should pay, based on their income and capital and according to national rules, or they can charge what they think is a ‘reasonable’ amount, although this should take account of individual circumstances. If care is provided in the person’s own home, the HSC trust can ask the person with dementia to pay ‘a reasonable amount’ towards the cost.

HSC trusts have discretion to allow direct payments to be used for respite care. Consult your local HSC trust to find out.

Charities

If a carer is having difficulty financing a holiday for the person with dementia, or paying for respite care, they may be able to get financial help from a charity. Organisations such as Turn2us can point carers in the right direction (see ‘Other useful organisations’ for details).