When looking across the UK as a whole, there are almost half a million people now living in care. The good news is, this number is increasing as more of us are living to an older age. The downside is that planning to pay for this care can be a little stressful. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way.

At St Michael’s, we’ve already taken a look at how you can pay for your care. What we’re going to look at here are the ways that you can make it a smooth process that’s as easy as possible. As with most things in life, the sooner you start to plan, the better chances you have of securing exactly what you want.

Here’s a look at our top tips that can help you to plan for yourself or a loved one.

1) Understand your personal finances and nursing home fees

Before going too far into paying for a nursing home, the first step is to take a look at if you’ll be expected to contribute. You may have to pay all of your fees, pay a contribution or pay nothing at all. This all depends upon your personal financial situation and whereabouts in the UK you are. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all set different thresholds and these determine the type of contribution that you’ll make.

In England, the thresholds to be aware of are:

• Higher limit – £23, 250
• Lower limit – £14,250

If your capital exceeds the higher limit, you’ll need to self-fund your nursing care. If you’re below the lower limit, you should be entitled to state-funded care. If you sit in the middle, you will be required to contribute towards the fees.

2) Time to set a budget to cover you nursing care fees

Now you know where you stand, and the level of contribution that you’ll need to make, you’ll need to start thinking about a budget. Even if you’re entitled to state-funded care, you’ll still need to budget as there will be limits when it comes to what’s covered. When you’re trying to budget, some of the things that you’ll need to consider are:

• Your care needs – Fees will vary depending on the level of care that you require. Is there a need for residential care, nursing care or specialist dementia care?

• Location – Care fees will differ throughout the country so you need to plan for your ideal location, such as Margate.

• What you want from a care home – It’s not just about the level of care that you need. You also need to look at the environment that’s provided as well as things such as activities that are offered

3) Understand the financial support that exists for nursing home fees

If it looks like you’ll need to pay towards your nursing care, there still may be some forms of financial support that you can access. Some of the avenues worth exploring include:

• Bereavement Support Payment
• Universal Credit
• Armed Forces Independence Pay
• Disability Living Allowance
• Attendance Allowance
• Employment and Support Allowance
• Personal Independence Payment
• Basic State Pension
• Pension Credit

4) Investigate what care home fees cover

When it comes to exploring the right nursing home for you, you need to be clear on what the fees are and what the fees cover. If you don’t make sure that you know this, it makes it impossible to budget as you may be hit with unexpected charges down the line.

Some care homes offer an all-inclusive package. This means that the fee that you pay includes everything including food, activities and the use of additional facilities. This is the approach that we take at St Michael’s as we believe that it offers full transparency and makes things so much easier for our Margate residents. However, some care homes will charge you a basic rate and then charge more for the extras.

5) Think long term about your nursing care needs

Whether you’re planning for yourself or a loved one, the reality is that circumstances change. When you first move into a care home you may have a certain set of needs, but these may well alter over time. While no one can predict exactly what the future holds, it’s worth looking forward and planning your finances for the longer term.

Short-term planning can lead to funds being exhausted. When this happens, there is sometimes a need to change care homes. This can be an unsettling experience and one that needs to be avoided.

Final thoughts

When considering nursing home fees, there’s no need to be consumed with worry. The sooner that you start to give this thought the much easier this will be when the time comes. While you need to be aware of your own finances, make sure that you take the time to check out the help that you may be entitled to.

When you find a care home such as ours, in Margate, we’re confident in saying that you’ll want to join us. These tips can go some way towards helping that happen.