Take Control of Your Future Care, so You Can Enjoy Life Wherever You Are

Mon Aug. 5th 2019

We all get old – hopefully – and it’s a good idea for you to think about care for if you ever need it. That might look like round the clock support, or just a bit of extra help with things around the house. Explore our suggestions on planning for a comfortable and happy old age.

We all get old – hopefully – and it's a good idea for you to think about care for if you ever need it. That might look like round the clock support, or just a bit of extra help with things around the house.

The good news is, you can access support services, change the way you're living to cope with increasing age, and still enjoy life.

In-home care - help staying at home

The longer you can stay in your own home, the better off you'll be both physically and mentally. You'll stay in your comfortable, familiar living space and still be near friends and the activities you enjoy.

But to safely stay in your own home, you may eventually need help. If you're a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident, your DHB will fund home services, including personal care (showering, dressing and other physical help), home support (cleaning or meals), respite care to give your live-in carer a break, and equipment for your safety and ease of movement.

However, before you can access these home services, you'll go through a needs assessment. Go to your DHB's Needs Assessment Service Coordination (NASC) agency to find out what's involved.

Rest homes – round the clock care

Not all rest homes are the same. If you've decided you can no longer safely live at home, it pays to look for the best quality rest home in your area.

Shop around providers and ask about availability and for full lists of services and prices – you might like to start your search on Eldernet or the Find a Rest Home site.

Then it's time to go visiting, taking your must-have check list with you. Bring a trusted friend or family member along, too – a second pair of eyes may spot what you miss. Talk to the staff and management, and even have a chat with residents for some insider knowledge.

Rest homes with DHB contracts are required to offer certain services as part of the basic package. These include:

* Healthcare services, including doctor's visits, medicines you've been prescribed, transport to appointments, dressings and continence products and nursing care.

* Home-like comfort – expect to find safe, comfortable, private rooms, and easy access to an outdoor space with sheltered seating. You may be able to afford a larger room with an ensuite (a premium room) too, for which you can expect to pay $40-$60 a day extra.

* Living the way you prefer – a good rest home will be ready to provide regular meals and snacks, and also cater for cultural differences and dietary preferences. Expect to have your laundry done, equipment to help with your safety and mobility, and recreational activities to keep you engaged and active. The government has more information about what to expect from residential care here.

Finally, when all the boxes are ticked, it's what the rest home feels like that will help you decide. Does it have views? Do you know some of the residents? Are they friendly?

In-home care – in a retirement village

There's a difference between rest home care and a retirement village – serviced apartments fall somewhere in between. Depending on the level of care you need, you can sign an Occupational Right Agreement for a serviced apartment at a retirement village, and pay to have your meals provided, your home cleaned and your laundry done.

Who pays?

Depending on your financial situation when you need care, you could qualify for the government Residential Care Subsidy. If you have cash or assets over the minimum allowable, you'll be responsible for the cost of your care.

Residential Care Subsidy

Your income and assets will be tested to find out if you're under the threshold for the Residential Care Subsidy. If you're eligible, the government will pay part of your care, and most of your superannuation pays the rest, for any level of care. You'll have $34.81 left over each week, and you'll get a $246.91 annual clothing allowance. Click here to see the income and asset thresholds

Paying privately

If your assets mean you don't qualify for a Residential Care Subsidy, you'll have to pay your own fees. You continue to receive New Zealand Superannuation.

The government Maximum Contribution limits how much you have to pay towards your care, which varies by region.

Residential Care Loan You could be eligible for a Residential Care Loan if you have assets over the threshold (such as a family home), but no cash. This is an interest-free loan, secured against your assets.

Protecting your assets – know the rules

Your residential care is asset-tested, so you might think you can sock your cash assets away into a trust or transfer it to your family, and that way be eligible for the subsidy. But it doesn't work like that.

The Residential Care Subsidy is for people who have assets under the threshold – that is, poorer people. You can try hiding your money in a trust, or gifting it away, but Work and Income may still include this funds when considering your eligibility for a care subsidy. You may even get fined or charged – it's illegal to hide your assets and then pretend you need the subsidy.

You're allowed to gift just $6000 a year, over the five years before you go into care. Before the five year period, you can gift up to $27,000 a year.

Plan for a comfortable and happy old age

We've covered a lot of options for care as you get older, and it's likely you'll need some kind of support to help you enjoy life to the end of your days. You can have help staying in your own home, which a lot of people prefer for as long as they can.

A rest home might be the best option for you, for which you may be eligible for funding, or a retirement village might suit. Whichever you choose, for your health, safety and comfort in retirement, your first best step is to have a needs assessment through your DHB. That way, should you find that you need any services in the future, you're already in the system and they can more readily be provided.

Want to know about planning for your retirement? Give Cave Financial a call.

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