The fear that the local council will force the sale of the family home is a real one for many elderly people and their families.
Recently, an attempt by a council to force the sale of a 92-year-old woman's house was prevented on the ground that the woman's daughter also lived there some of the time.
The elderly woman became a permanent resident in a care home in 2006. When she did so, her house was retained and her daughter, who works as a theatre director, kept a room and office in the house and also made use of the garden shed. Over the years, she has rented temporary accommodation in many places when working in the UK and abroad.
The daughter, who is in her 70s, intends to retire to the family home in due course and has spent considerable sums maintaining it over the years.
When the council assessed the mother's ability to contribute towards her care, it considered that her house should be taken into account. Her daughter disagreed and the matter ended up in the High Court.
The Court refused to allow the value of the property to be included in the means assessment because of a provision that prohibits this if it is 'occupied in whole or in part as their home by the resident's…other family member or relative who is aged 60 or over'.
The council concerned has announced its intention to appeal the decision.