'Robbed' of his family's home

A PENSIONER who fought for his country and worked for more than 50 years is being forced to sell his home to pay for his care.

A PENSIONER who fought for his country and worked for more than 50 years is being forced to sell his home to pay for his care.

Robert Kidd, Jane Major

Robert Kidd faces parting with the family house of more than 40 years in Cochrane Park, Newcastle, as he cannot afford to pay the bills to go into care.

The 84-year-old must make the traumatic decision over his future as he recovers from major surgery in Walkergate Hospital, Newcastle.

Under the current system because the grandfather has worked all his life and has two pensions paired with owning his own home, the Government states he must pay for his own care.

His 53-year-old daughter Jane Major of Gosforth is angry her father will be “robbed” of the three-bedroom semi-detached house he hoped to leave to his family.

“It is outrageous that he will have to sell the house to pay for his care. It is the family home and it was always my father’s plan that the house would be for us as he got older. Now he can’t do that.”

Under current means testing the Department of Health states anyone with over £13,000 of assets must part fund their own care and over £21,500 pay the full amount.

The system takes into account pensions, savings and capital which includes the individual’s home if they live there alone.

Having worked his way up to running the investigation branch of the Post Office in a career spanning 50 years and having served in the RAF during the Second World War, Mr Kidd is paid two pensions which give him a total of £1,400 each month.

The family home is worth in the region of £150,000 so he must pay for his own care under the current means testing system.

His monthly income would fall short of covering the care home charges of around £2,000 each month so he must sell his house to fund his care.

With Jane’s late mother Enid, who died 10 years ago, her father saved and they became the first generation of the family to own their own house.

“Because he has done that he’s not going to have an inheritance to pass on.

“He is in the same position as someone who has saved nothing in terms of what he will pass on.

“He has paid taxes all his life yet now he has to sell the family home he worked so hard to buy.”

Medical advances and improved health care mean people are living longer than ever before, bringing one of the major challenges facing the country.

Mr Kidd is disabled due to joint problems but has used crutches to get around for years. He was taken to hospital in July after a fall and then transferred to Walkergate Hospital for rehabilitation where he was having physiotherapy.

But he became ill with a perforated bowel and underwent an emergency operation.

The doctors gave him a one in three chance of survival because of his age and frail health.

He has made a good recovery and is currently back in Walkergate but three months of immobility have taken their toll and his muscles have wasted away.

Now he needs full-time care but as his daughter hunts around for care homes the family are facing the realisation that it will come at a price – his home and the family’s inheritance.

“We are living longer. My father got through the operation which he possibly wouldn’t have 50 years ago.

“It has extended his life span. He needs support. We need it more than ever now.” Jane, a mother-of-three, is considering signing over ownership of her own house to her children now to avoid future heartache.

“I would do it so they won’t be disinherited. We are all emotionally attached to the house and don’t want history to repeat itself.” Mrs Major wants to see a change in the system.

“Someone who has never worked or drifted from job to job would get more support from the system that he has paid into.”

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Different countries, different approaches to care costs

THE care home bills system includes personal care, those who need help with day-to-day tasks like washing and dressing and nursing care, where they need specialist medical attention.

ENGLAND – Department of Health

Up to £13,000 savings and capital are ignored and the state pays.

Between £13,000 and £21,500 savings and capital the care home resident makes a contribution in a sliding scale of payment.

Over £21,500 – care home resident pays full fees.

If someone owns their home its value will be usually counted as capital though there are some exceptions to the rule: if a spouse or civil partner lives in the house; or if a relative aged 60 or over, or a relative under the age of 60 who is incapacitated needs to go on living there.

Local Councils can also ignore the value of the house if it is the permanent home of someone such as a carer, although they do not have to do this.

The value of the home is also disregarded for the first 12 weeks of care in a care home.

SCOTLAND – The Scottish Government, Health and Community Care

People aged 65 and over, who have been assessed as in need of personal care by the social work service, will have the first £145 per week of their care home fees paid for them.

The authority will also pay £65 per week towards the care costs of people under and over 65 years who have been assessed as in need of nursing care.

Those aged 65 or over, and have been assessed as in need of personal and nursing care, will have the first £210 per week of the care home's fees paid by the social work service.

The Executive has provided £712m for this policy since it was introduced in July 2002.

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'There are no easy solutions'

HEALTH Minister, Ivan Lewis, has said there should be a “consensus for a new funding settlement between the state, the family and the individual.

“There are no easy solutions, but the Green Paper will tackle head on the scale of the challenge.

“It will outline the principles that should underpin reform and options for change which meet the tests of fairness and affordability,” he said.

“In the New Year we will announce details of our plans for major engagement with the public, which will inform the content of the Green Paper.

“In addition to long-term funding reform I will be bringing forward proposals to enhance dignity for older people and put more power and control in the hands of people who use the current care system.”

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