Make a plan for later-life care

Make a plan for later-life care

Advance Care Plans for older adults

This guide on planning for later-life care includes useful information with actionable steps and several resources for further guidance.

None of us know what the future holds but creating a care plan is a thoughtful step that could provide a lot of clarity for you or your family, if you require care, whether that be in a care home, retirement living property or through the help of a live-in carer or a domiciliary home carer.

Put simply, to keep your voice, choice and control as you age, make a care plan in advance to ensure that what you want is honoured.

This guide includes:

  • Information about planning future care
  • Useful resources for further help
  • A future care planning template

What is Advance Care Planning (ACP)?

An Advance Care Plan allows you to share your wishes and priorities about later life with people who care for you or manage your money.

Who you share your plan with is up to you, however, it may be helpful to share your ACP with your:

  • GP
  • Family
  • Close friends
  • Solicitor
  • Financial adviser
  • Local authority (if you are likely to need support from them)
  • Private pension provider (particularly if there are options around how you receive your pension entitlements)
  • Employer (if you are over 55, still employed and considering immediate care provisions)

If you currently have assistance from a carer either in a care home or in your own home, the advance care plan can be shared with them too.

What’s included in an Advance Care Plan?

An Advance Care Plan includes your decisions and preferences about later-life living and ageing. 

You might feel strongly that you never want a certain type of medical procedure or intervention, or that if your health declines and you need care, you want to stay in your home rather than move to a care home with nursing. An Advance Care Plan can also include your spiritual and cultural values.

These decisions could impact your well-being and quality of life as you age and the relevant people around you should know what you want.

If you can create an advanced care plan that has details and contains carefully considered preferences, there is less uncertainty about the future.

woman writing an advance care plan with a care professional

Why should I make a plan for my future care?

You might be in perfect health with no intention of requiring care. Many older adults lead independent and active lives and never need the assistance of care professionals. 

However, if you suddenly need care and you’re unable, because of ill health, to express what you want and what is important to you, you’ll feel relieved that you have created a plan for others to follow. 

Creating a care plan is an opportunity to write down:

  • Where you want to live 
  • What you want to happen if you get ill 
  • What you don’t want for later life 

If you currently have assistance from a carer either in a care home or in your own home, the Advance Care Plan can be shared with them too.

When is the best time to start a plan for future care?

Now. It is never too soon - once you document your plans and wishes, you reduce the risk of experiencing the opposite of what you want for your later life. Without a plan, your family and healthcare professionals may have to make decisions on your behalf and even with the best intentions, the result of those decisions could leave you unhappy.

Sometimes, people start to think about how their future might unfold after:

  • A friend or family member’s health declines
  • A friend or family member starts to receive care
  • Their health suddenly declines
  • They experience an injury that leaves them less mobile

How do I make a plan for future care?

Ask a healthcare professional, such as an NHS practitioner or care worker (if you’re already receiving care), for an Advance Care Planning (ACP) form. If you have a solicitor, they may also provide you with an ACP form.

Some NHS Trusts or GP surgeries will have these available on their websites but not all will, so it may be easier to call your GP and ask for the form directly or make an appointment. 

A clear Advance Care Plan includes:

An advance statement: This will include your preferences, priorities and feelings surrounding your future care options and later-life living. It is not a legally binding agreement, however, it does provide an opportunity to record what’s important to you. 

An Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment (ADRT): This might include details about your refusal of specific treatment recommendations and resuscitation decisions.

A nomination of a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) for health and welfare: The person named as your LPA could be legally empowered to make decisions regarding life-sustaining treatment on your behalf, if you do not have mental capacity.

What happens to my later-life care plan once it’s finished?

Future care plans are usually added to a person’s Key Information Summary (KIS).

The KIS is an electronic health record. It is held in your GP practice health record and shared securely with other health services.

Who is my plan shared with?

  • Hospitals
  • NHS 24
  • The ambulance service
  • Out-of-hours healthcare services
  • Community pharmacies

Who should I tell about my plans for future care?

  • Your GP
  • Existing carers
  • Assigned family members or friends
  • Your solicitor
  • Your financial adviser (if you have one)
  • Your local authority (if you are likely to need support from them)
  • Your private pension provider (particularly if there are options around how you receive your pension entitlements)
  • Your employer (if you are over 55, still employed and considering immediate care provision)
woman discussing her future care and creating an advanced care plan with her GP

Older adults have told Age Cymru that:

We cannot see what will happen in the future, whether this is losing your mobility which would make you more vulnerable and also losing your mental capacity, this I think frightens people more than anything.” Age UK

How can I pay for my future care costs?

Funding is a key consideration that has to be addressed as early as possible when making a future care plan, particularly if you will be funding your care.

There are three ways that you can pay for future care:

  • Self-fund
  • Ask the local council to fund your care
  • Receive a top-up from your family
  • Self-funded care in the UK
  • Do I pay for my care because I have savings or own a property?


    It’s important to know that if you meet the upper capital limit of £23,250, you will be required to pay for your care as you’ll be classed as a self-funder, though this figure is due to rise to £100,000 in October 2025.

    Furthermore, if you own your property, your local council is not required to help towards the cost of care.

    If you’re paying for your care, you should get the choice of how and where that care is received, be it your home, a retirement development or a care home.

    Whether you’re funding your care using equity from a property, a pension or savings from an ISA, you should also have a say in how your money is spent.

    Do I have to sell my property to pay for my care?


    Not necessarily. If you opt for home care, for example, you won’t be required to sell your property, whereas if you choose to move to a care home and have no means to pay for the care, equity or proceeds from the sale of your property may be needed.

    An exception to this would be if your partner lives in the property, or, if you have other assets that could be used to pay towards your care home fees.

    Am I entitled to benefits and allowances to pay towards my care?

    However, that’s not to say that you won’t be eligible for benefits and allowances that can be used to pay towards your care costs.

    Depending on your circumstances, these may include:

    PIP

    To be eligible for PIP payments you must be under the state pension age and need help with day-to-day activities because of an ongoing condition. PIP rates increased in April 2023 by 10.1%, in line with inflation.

    The 2023/2024 daily living component of PIP is worth £101.75 for the enhanced rate and £68.10 for the standard rate. The mobility component is worth £71.00 for the enhanced rate and £26.90 for the standard rate.

    Attendance Allowance

    To be eligible for Attendance Allowance, you must be over the state pension age, have an ongoing medical condition that requires the assistance of a carer and be a self-funder i.e. someone who is required to pay for their care.

    Attendance Allowance is paid at two different rates depending on the level of care that is required. 

    It's helpful to know that as of April 2024, Attendance Allowance will be worth the following: 

    Higher rate - The higher rate will increase from £101.75 to £108.55 a week. 

    Lower rate - The lower rate will increase from £68.10 to £72.65 a week.

    Carer's Allowance

    To be eligible for Carer's Allowance, you’ll need to care for someone who without your help, would find it hard to manage day to day.

    Between April 2023-2024, Carer's Allowance is worth £76.75 per week and is usually paid every 4 weeks. It’s useful to know that you don't have to be related to or live with the person you care for to claim Carer's Allowance.

    Local authority-funded care

    Lots of older adults aren’t in the position to pay for their care and that’s perfectly ok. It’s good to know that there could be support available for you from your local authority, depending on your circumstances.

    How can my local authority support me with my elder care needs?

    Your local authority will support you in finding and funding your continued care if:

    • Assuming you are living in England, your assets are less than £23,250 (including home ownership)
    • Your care assessment determines that you need to be looked after (at home or in residential care)

    What is NHS Continuing Healthcare?

    In some cases, the NHS provides Continuing Healthcare or “funded nursing” which means they fund your medical treatment when they are unable to deliver it themselves.

    Your GP would carry out a needs assessment to determine whether or not any ongoing care is needed.

    Your next steps before you create your Advance Care Plan

    1) Research care options

    Think about where you want to spend your time, who you want to be with and where you want to allocate your funds.

    Some people may say they would always want to stay at home if they become ill but try to consider whether that is realistic based on your current needs. It’s also good to plan for sudden changes to your health and how that might impact your decision about where you want to live.

    When people think about care, typically they think about care homes as the only option but actually, Autumna lists over 26,000 care providers including:

    The care home category is comprised of homes that offer either one or a combination, of the following:

    • Residential care
    • Nursing care
    • Respite care
    • Dementia care
    • Other specialist services

    2) Have a conversation about Advance Care Planning

    Not everyone will feel comfortable discussing future care plans but if you have a trusted family member, partner or friend to talk to, having the conversation might provide you with some insight into how they feel and more importantly, how you feel.

    3) Make an appointment with a healthcare professional

    Healthcare professionals that can conduct an advanced care plan with you include your GP, NHS clinicians and care workers (if you’re already receiving care). Once complete, keep a couple of copies of your plan for yourself. Remember, you can change your Advance Care Plan at any time.

    Your GP (or local authority) can also conduct a care needs assessment which will help you determine the level of care you need now and whether it could increase in the future.

    A care needs assessment may involve questions including:

    • What is becoming difficult?
    • How are your sight, hearing and mobility?
    • Are you taking regular medication?
    • If so, is it a combination of things?
    • Are there any side effects?

    4) Speak to a financial adviser

    Calculate costs based on today’s average prices and then factor in future rising costs for care. Your financial adviser should be able to help you with this.

    Speaking to a financial adviser can also help you determine what you’re required to pay for and whether you’re eligible for any benefits or allowances that can contribute towards the cost of care.

    5) Check the T&Cs of your pension

    Some private pension providers have fees that affect how much you’re charged when you drawdown or transfer your pension entitlements and this could make it difficult for you to pay for your care, depending on the terms and conditions of your agreement.

    Talk to your pension provider or your financial adviser, if you have one and they should be able to tell you if any conditions could prevent you from releasing funds as and when you need them, including drawdown limits or fees.

    6) Appoint someone to make decisions for you using a Lasting Power of Attorney

    You may want to give another person legal authority to make decisions on your behalf. A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) enables you to give another person the right to make decisions about your property and affairs and/or your welfare.

    Decisions about care and treatment can be covered by a personal welfare LPA. An LPA covering your personal welfare can only be used when you cannot make specific welfare decisions for yourself.

    7) Let people know your wishes

    Advance Care Planning does not always need to be in writing. However, the professionals involved in your care and members of your family may find it helpful if your wishes and preferences are in writing. It is a good idea to give a copy of your wishes to everyone who needs to know. Remember to keep your copy safe.

    If you have made an advance decision to refuse specific treatment you must be sure that the people involved in your care know this.

    Keep your voice, choice and control as you age

    Taking ownership of your future care plan should enable your family and/or representatives, clinicians and other professionals to share the same understanding.

    We welcome calls to our free advice line, for anyone seeking clarity or guidance on all things related to care.

    Autumna is an impartial hub of information with access to over 26,000 care providers across the UK. Whether it’s a question about finding, funding or planning for care, our elder care experts are available 7 days a week to listen on 01892 335 330.

    Resources for planning future care

    Funding advice: Visit our Advice Lines section.

    Financial advice: (including equity release advice): Contact Schroders Personal Wealth

    Legal advice: Law and Life can be contacted for free on 0800 999 4437.

    Benefits and allowance eligibility: Visit the GOV.UK website for further information.

    Advance Care template example: View an example of an advance care plan template

    FAQs

    What type of care should I consider when making an Advance Care Plan?

    Think about both your current and long-term needs. This is important to make the right decision as not every care provider will cater for every type of care, and the cost will vary enormously, something that, as a self-funder, you will need to build into your plan at a very early stage.

    Whether it’s for you, your partner, or a friend, you’ll find more details about later-life care options on the Autumna directory.

    Who else do I need to think about when considering my care needs in later life?

    You should also consider the following aspects of your life:

    • Whether you are married, divorced or in a partnership
    • Whether your assets are formally/informally shared
    • Whether you have living dependants that you are responsible for, e.g.: in terms of care and/or financing

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