The implementation of the government’s social care act in April 2016 will change the future for the elderly – and for you. Jewish Care’s Lisa Wimbourne explains how…

Most of us think about our future, with many of us saving from an early age for our retirement. But do we really think about the likelihood that we will need some 78484347form of care in our later years and understand its associated cost? We are fortunate in the UK to have a free health service but as soon as we get older and require care and support, the situation is very different.

Currently, here in the UK, everyone with assets of more than £23,250 is expected to contribute towards the full cost of their social care.

Planning for this cost when you don’t know how long you will need it for and what level of care will be required is almost impossible. It was for this reason that the government tasked economist Andrew Dilnot CBE with undertaking a review of social care funding to see if a fairer system could be developed.

In all other areas of our lives we ‘pool’ that sort of risk through either private insurance policies or state provision but in the case of healthcare we have been left to face the risk as individuals. Dilnot’s work set about a way to ensure we could plan for the future with more certainty.

His recommendations form the basis of the Care Act 2014 which will be comes into force fully in April 2016.

Many of the provisions of the Act focus on the requirement for the majority of individuals, with support and guidance from government funded bodies, to take responsibility for arranging and paying for their own care. Whilst all of Andrew Dilnot’s recommendations were not taken on board by the government, they do form the basis of the Act.

The biggest change for individuals when the Act comes into force is the introduction of a limit for the amount of money you will be required to pay for your care – this is known as a ‘cap’, which will be set in April 2016 at £72,000. In simple terms, once you have spent the equivalent of £72,000 on care the state will then start paying for your care.

From April 2016 anyone receiving social care will have a Care account opened which will be monitored and the monetary value of the care you receive will be added to this account until it reaches £72,000. If you choose to spend more than the local authority standard because you want better or more specialist care then you have to meet that difference.

The cap also only applies to the cost of care so you will need to meet any ‘accommodation costs’ for example food and lodging in a care home or the rent in an independent living scheme, unless you have little or no assets. The other big change which will affect more people is that at present, once your assets exceed £23,250 you must pay for all of your care.

This means test is set to become more generous from 2016 increasing to £118,000. Those who have assets (including your house) of £118,000 or more will be eligible for government support on a sliding scale depending on the value of your assets.

We, in the Jewish community, are fortunate to have excellent social care organisations providing advice, support and a range of services to meet our needs from social work teams, to day care, support groups, residential care homes and home care services.

Our support system is a blueprint for the government and the envy of other social care providers. It is only possible with generous support from across the community. However our fundraising efforts alone can’t meet the cost of care for everyone in the community. Those who can afford to, are required to pay.

As a charitable organisation we raise money to provide a whole range of unfunded services from our social work teams, family carers support, free helpline service as well as subsidising much needed but expensive to run day care to ensure people living along are not socially isolated. We are also committed to ensuring those without the means to pay still receive the quality care that they require.

We, at Jewish Care, want to work with individuals and the whole community to ensure we are all planning for our future. We have a duty to be open and honest to the community about the choices that many of us may face if and when we need care. Over the coming years, in the build up to the Care Act taking effect, we will be considering how we support and inform the community about the changes and the impact it will have.