Care costs: Welsh people now able to keep more savings


Briefing note from Finders International

People in Wales can now keep more of their savings before they need to pay for a care home.

The Welsh Government has raised the capital limit from £24,000 to £50,000 for the current Welsh Assembly term which runs until 2021.

Compared to the rest of the UK, Wales has a higher proportion of people with lower financial means. The new measures take this into account. In 2011, the Government introduced a limit to the amount local authorities can charge someone for care at home or within the community – £80 per week.

In 2016, the Government committed itself to increase how much capital a person can keep before having to use it to pay for residential care. Capital is judged as savings, investments and the value of the property a person owns, unless a partner, ex-partner or dependent relative still lives there.

Last year, the limit was raised to £30,000 and from April 9 this year; it is now £40,000. The new capital limit makes it the highest in the UK. In England, those with savings of more than £23,250 must pay for all their care. The limit is £27,250 in Scotland.

There are about 4,000 care home residents in Wales who pay the full costs of their care. Some 450 care home residents have already benefitted from last year’s increase.

The move is one of the Welsh Government’s top six “Taking Wales Forward” commitments. Another commitment was to introduce a full disregard of the War Disablement Pension in any financial assessment when charging for social care, which was implemented in 2017. Veterans who receive a WDP need not use any of it to pay for care costs.

Mario Kreft, the chair of Care Forum Wales, said the policy needed to be “properly funded” or local authorities and care homes would find themselves picking up the tab when they were already facing financial challenges.

Danny Curran, founder and managing director of Finders International, said: “This is welcome news for people and families in Wales. Knowing they won’t face social care bills that eat into savings must be reassuring for anyone worried about what they will be able to pass onto their loved ones after they have died.”

Full report here – http://gov.wales/docs/dhss/publications/161014chargingresearchen.pdf

Finders International works closely with public sector clients—local authorities, health boards and care homes—to identify the next of kin in cases where someone has died and seemingly has no will or next of kin. 



The UK’s Mortality Rates


Briefing note from Finders International

Since 2011, the number of deaths and the crude death rate in the UK have increased.

A recent Commons Briefing looked at mortality rates in the UK. There has been a long-term downward trend in the number of deaths. The recent increase is attributed to population growth. In early 2015, 2017 and 2018, winter mortality rates were higher than usual, as the weekly death numbers revealed.

The improvement in life expectancy has slowed in recent years for men and women though estimates of life expectancy haven’t fallen compared to earlier periods. In 2014-16, life expectancy at birth and at 65 was highest for women in London and for men living in the south east. It was lowest for both men and women in Scotland.

In England and Wales, the number of deaths and the crude death rate reached their lowest level since 1961 in 2011, when there were 484,000 deaths and the crude death rate was 8.6 deaths per thousand people.

Since the year 2011, total numbers of deaths and the crude death rate increased—525,000 deaths and 9 deaths per 1,000 people in 2016. Other than in 2015 when deaths reached 530,000 and the crude death rate 9.2, the 2016 figures are the highest levels since 2011.

Most of the increase in deaths in 2015 took place during the first few months of the year. Figures from the time showed an increase in hospital admissions for flu and outbreaks of the virus in care homes. In addition, the number of deaths were dementia or Alzheimer’s is the underlying cause have grown over the year 15 years.

In 2016, life expectancy at birth was highest for women in Camden (86.8) and men in Kensington and Chelsea (83.7). The lowest life expectancy was for women in West Dunbartonshire (78.8) and men in Glasgow (73.4).

In Scotland, the number of deaths and the crude death rate reached its lowest levels since 1961 in 2011, although this was still higher than England Wales. Both rates increased since then.

In Northern Ireland, the same story applies—a fall in mortality rates from 1961 to 2011 and then an increase.

Mortality statistics are the number of deaths in a population during a given period. The figure is affected by a population’s size, age structure and prevailing risks of dying so the number is adjusted. The simplest adjusted rate is called the crude death rate, the number of deaths per 1,000 people, which adjusts for population size but not its age structure.

Finders International offers the following services to members of the public—the identification and tracking of heirs to an estate or fund and tracing the next of kin when someone has passed away. We can help verify if you have correctly identified the lawful beneficiaries to an estate or find a missing will. Contact your nearest office to find out more.



Local Government Association Briefing to House of Lords


This is a useful update on the situation regarding the delivery of social care.

On 19th April 2018, the LGA produced a briefing for the House of Lords on the long-term sustainability of the NHS and Social Care House of Lords.
Some of the information provided included:

• Since 2010, councils have dealt with a £6 billion funding gap in adult social care services. This has been met through £3.4 billion of savings to adult social care and £2.6 billion taken from additional savings to other services

• The LGA estimates that adult social care provider market faces an immediate and annually recurring gap of £1.3 billion, which is the difference between what care providers say they need and what councils currently pay

• Despite the Government’s recent funding commitments, adult social care still faces a funding gap of more than £2 billion by 2020

• The measures the Government has taken in recent years to tackle the funding crisis facing adult social care have been welcome. However, the Government position that councils have ‘access to up to £9.4 billion more dedicated funding for social care over three years’ (Government response to Competition and Markets Authority report on care homes) is problematic for several reasons:

o The council tax precept shifts the burden of tackling a clear national crisis onto councils and their residents

o Last year’s Adult Social Care Support Grant was not new money and was instead created from savings of equivalent value from the New Homes Bonus; in effect it was simply a redistribution of funding already promised to councils and actually left some councils worse off overall as they lost more in NHB payments than they gained in the ASC grant

o Improved Better Care Fund monies give disproportionate dominance to the priority of reducing pressures on the NHS, and within that an extremely narrow focus on delayed transfers of care

(Author: Tish Hanifan)



Care Home Pharmacists


This is significant for those of you who have clients in care homes or advise their families.

Around 180,000 people living in nursing or residential homes will have their prescriptions and medicines reviewed by the new pharmacists and pharmacy technicians.

Elderly care home residents often have one or more long-term health conditions, such as dementia, hypertension, diabetes or heart disease, and on average are being prescribed seven medicines daily, but it can be more, with around 10 per cent of people aged 75 and over currently being prescribed 10 or more medicines.

This is important as studies suggest up to one in 12 of all hospital admissions are medicines-related and two thirds of these are preventable.

NHS trials show pharmacists reviewing medicines improved patients’ quality of life by reducing unnecessary use and bringing down emergency admissions, with less time spent in hospitals.

https://www.england.nhs.uk/2018/03/care-home-pharmacists-to-help-cut-over-medication-and-unnecessary-hospital-stays-for-frail-older-patients/

(Author: Tish Hanifan)



Increase to NHS-funded nursing care rate


The NHS-funded nursing care standard weekly rate per patient will increase by 2 per cent to £158.16 on 1 April 2018. This is to reflect overall nursing wage pressures.

The higher rate of NHS-funded nursing care will also increase by 2 per cent to £217.59 per week. This is only relevant for people who were already on the higher rate in 2007 when the single band was introduced.

As stated on NHS Choices, “NHS-funded nursing care is care provided by a registered nurse for people who live in a care home. The NHS will pay a flat rate contribution directly to the care home towards the cost of this registered nursing care.”

http://www.nhsconfed.org/resources/2018/03/what-comes-into-effect-in-april-2018

Full details can be found on the Department of Health and Social Care website.

(Author: Tish Hanifan)



Unsuitable, insecure and substandard homes: The barriers faced by older private renters


A report by Independent Age into The Private Rental Sector and Older People – This report argues that with half a million older people living in privately rented accommodation, policy makers need to understand the unique needs of this growing section of the population and must enact this understanding in future policy developments because currently they remain largely invisible.

•An estimated 500,000 older people are privately renting. This is 1 in 10 of all private rented households

•The Local Government Association (LGA) forecasts that older households will make up around 60% of projected household growth between 2008 and 2033

•In 2015, just 17.5% of housing stock in England and Wales was social housing

•As social housing has become more inaccessible, many renters, including older renters, have been forced to turn to the private rented sector. This sector now accounts for a greater proportion of Britain’s housing stock than social rented housing

The report also sets out a number of recommendations to government. It can be downloaded at: https://www.independentage.org/sites/default/files/2018-03/Unsuitable_insecure_and_substandard_homes_Independent_Age_2018_0.pdf