Assessment - Financial advice
People who use services and carers access financial self-assessment and / or independent financial advice late, they therefore undertake assessments that aren't necessary or desired
Financial assessments are completed by the Council or an organisation the council has contracted for that purpose.
They are often provided at statutory social care assessment/post assessment, and they can mean an individual must fund their own care and support, even when they have eligible needs, because they do not meet the financial thresholds necessary for state support.
What are the outcomes we want to achieve?
- The person is able to make informed financial decisions
- The person understands how their available resources can be best used to meet their desired outcomes
- The person is able to use their resources flexibly to fund a wider range of care and support
- Appropriate alternative arrangements are in place for people who lack mental capacity to make their own financial decisions
What tools and resources do we need to do a good job? What are the steps we have to go through?
Information and advice
- Information and advice on:
- Understanding care charges
- Ways to pay
- Cap on care costs
- Money management options
- Power of attorney or Court of Protection
- Universal/web-based financial information and advice
- All resources, information in preferred format
- Early identification of need for independent financial advice regarding products or savings decisions
- Assessment of people's mental capacity to make financial decisions
- Clear local referral pathways - referral should be via council and partners
- Financial advice services Easily accessible, well-advertised in the community
- Local awareness of how care and support is funded and the benefits if financial advice
- Independent financial advice contract (regional)
What are the products we will have at the end of this process?
- Long-term plan of how to fund care and support needs
- Understanding of the options available and charges
- Referral to independent financial advice
- Referral to welfare benefits advice
- Advice about planning for risk of future loss of mental capacity (eg lasting powers of attorney)
- Application to the Court of Protection for deputyship where necessary
When does this process start and end and within what timescales should this process be completed?
- Should take place before any decisions are made about long-term care and support
Who needs to be involved and what is their role? Who is taking the lead?
- Family, carer or other who the person chooses to be involved
- Independent advocate or chosen representative
- Customer service advisor of council finance team (for general information and advice re finance and referral to independent financial advice)
- Independent financial adviser
- Benefits adviser
The Act states that the assessment has to be performed independently of the financial assessment. This can create a problem in timeliness. Financial assessments are sometimes done after a long statutory assessment process, only to reveal that the person is not eligible for state funding. If the financial assessment had been done earlier then time spent undertaking an unnecessary and unwanted needs assessment might have been avoided.
However, since the Care Act requires needs assessments to be broader in nature, addressing wellbeing and prevention or early intervention, these assessments should be useful to the individual even if they are not eligible for state support. Therefore earlier financial assessments may not advantageously reduce process, because a needs assessment is still very helpful, especially given Care Accounts which enter legislation in April 2016.
People would find it helpful to receive information about charging regulations, and to see graphics in leaflets/ web sites regarding charging bands and their impact. In addition, people would appreciate the ability to broadly self-assess and have a better understanding of equity release and treatment of compensation payments and investment bonds.