'Honest' conversation about care is needed

'Honest' conversation about care is needed
Photo: Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels

Advisers will be encouraging clients more to have sensitive and "honest" conversations with their families about the cost of long-term and end-of-life care following Ed Balls' documentary on care homes.

Responding to BBC2's two-part documentary, Inside the Care Crisis with Ed Balls, advisers and industry insiders called the programme "definitely a gut punch".

In the documentary, which first aired last week and is now available on iPlayer, the former Labour frontbencher explored the difficulties faced by carers and care homes over staffing and funding. 

Balls also interviewed unpaid carers - family members looking after their frail wives and mothers - without any government support, financial or otherwise. 

Following this, industry professionals took to Twitter to highlight the issue and how it could affect clients. 

Felix Milton, chartered financial planner for Philip J Milton & Company, said: "Definitely a gut punch. I think more clients will need to be told to have an honest conversation with their families about what care may look like and the likelihood of family provided care of some sort being required.

"I’ll be definitely telling more clients that their chances of being in continuing healthcare are even more slim than previously perceived."

Tim Morris, IFA with Russell & Co, said he watched the programme and has the "utmost respect" for carers. He said: "Due to her dementia, my gran has relied on full-time specialist care for 10 years now. The pandemic was a horrible time for care homes, and while they’ve come out they other side, the finding issue has only been exacerbated."

He said he is already having the difficult conversations with clients about the need to fund long-term care.

Independent consultant and disability champion Johnny Timpson, praised the work that Ed Balls had done in raising awareness. He said: "Having spent almost 30 years supporting various financial services sector care initiatives, we would be in a far better place if we had the type of experience Ed Balls has had.

"There is an additional aspect to consider and experiences to highlight, namely that circa 50 per cent of social care spend is on younger people with care and support needs, including learning disability.

"Their experience matters, as does that of people trying to access benefits and grants."

This is why it is vital to have these conversations with clients to help them prepare financially for the unexpected.

The comments come after the government recently announced a 1.25 percentage point increase in National Insurance in April 2022 for all workers - even those over state retirement age who continue to work in paid employment - and for employers.

This will change in 2023 to become a new social care tax, which will be in addition to the proportion of people's council tax payments that already goes towards funding care in their local area.

The NI hike comes alongside a 1.25 per cent dividend tax, in order to pay for a £86,000 cap on the cost of social care. This will, from 2023, become a separate levy to fund social care.