Page last updated at 10:58 GMT, Tuesday, 14 July 2009 11:58 UK

'Giving up memories' to pay for care

Elderly woman's hands doing cross word
In England assets of 23,500 or more rule people out of state funding

As ministers prepare to lay out proposed reforms to the funding of social care, one elderly woman spoke to BBC Radio 4's Today programme about her concerns for funding her care in a nursing home in the future.

Katherine Dyton is a new resident at a nursing home for the elderly in Surrey.

Mrs Dyton is happy at the home - at 93 she is unable to live alone and needs help with every aspect of daily life - but finding the money to pay for it is a constant worry.

But she also says she has no choice, she simply could not live without 24-hour care.

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "If I need to go to the loo, somebody has to take me and to help me into a chair and help me out again. So I'm quite reliant on other people for everything.

I was sad because you give up all your home and your memories and your possessions

Katherine Dyton

"I can't get into bed and out without somebody lifting my legs out and so-on."

Under the present system in England anyone with a home or savings of £23,500 or more is not given state funding for a care home.

Mrs Dyton says the only way to pay for the home and nursing care was to sell her flat, a decision she found very painful.

"I was sad because you give up all your home and your memories and your possessions. When you've had somewhere all your life it's a great wrench to leave it all.

"I couldn't cope and that was it, you just have to face up to it when the time comes."

But her daughter, Carol, is less stoical.

She bristles at the system that prevented her mother from getting any financial help with the care home's fees, all because she owned a flat. They had no choice but to sell it quickly.

Carol told BBC Radio 4: "This was a time when the market was depressed and we weren't going to get a very good price for it.

"I still thought I would have some time in hand and get some help at first, but no way, we had to pay the bills right from the start.

High cost of care

"For the first month's bill we had to use her savings and things were very tough, it took some months to actually sell the flat."

But even with the proceeds from her mother's flat, she is still worried she will not be able to continue paying the care home bills. They come to £1,100-a-week.

"This is the problem, she is in a very good Bupa home and we are very happy with it.

"But it is expensive because she does need nursing care and nursing care is significantly more than residential.

"The money will run out in less than four years and we will be faced with what to do then.

"That is what I think is very unfair because I do believe there should be much more choice.

"Intrinsically I'm not saying that you don't make any contribution towards your care - I think that if you have some assets then they should have to be looked at.

"But to be totally responsible, 100%, for the whole amount, knowing that it will run out, is just unfair on people."

And if it is difficult to make ends meet now, what does she see ahead for her own future?

"I think it will be absolutely impossible, because we are talking now at £1,100-a-week, this will go up.

"I don't think there will be the number of homes; I don't think it will be a viable proposition for people to run these sorts of homes.

"So frankly you can't afford to get ill, you can't afford to be immobile, you're going to have to keep going, otherwise it's going to be the good old bus trip to Switzerland."

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