It’s true that care home fees are on the pricey side, with 91% of UK Care Seekers saying they think care homes are expensive.
On the surface, it can be difficult to work out exactly why care homes cost so much, but luckily Lottie are here to help!
In this article, we look into the ins and outs of care home costs. We will explain exactly what your fees will cover, plus some useful tips for saving money on your fees.
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For starters, different types of care home have different costs. A standard residential care home is likely to cost less than a more specialist home. Nursing care homes, dementia care, or an expert level of care for certain health conditions will likely cost more.
Fees will also depend on the size of the care home, its location and the range of facilities it offers.
Care home costs vary across the board and tend to be more expensive in certain countries and regions. For example, the average weekly cost of residential care could range from £546 in Northern Ireland, to £850 in Scotland and weekly costs for nursing care can edge into the £800-900 range.
As a general rule, a self-funded residency costs upwards of one thousand pounds per week, when rent, service charges, food and personal care are added up. In 2020, the average cost of a residential care home in the UK was £34,944 a year, rising to over £48,720 a year for nursing care.
The answer is pretty simple: Care homes cost a lot because they provide 24-hour personal care for residents, 365 days a year, in addition to nursing care or specialist care in some cases.
Individual residents require regular meals, which can include catering for special diets, and personal care – which can include assistance with washing, dressing, toileting and care for specific medical needs.
Nursing staff must be on-hand round-the-clock to provide these care services, as well as catering and cleaning staff who cook the meals, do residents’ laundry and clean the home.
Care fees can be broken down into several main categories including rent and bills, care costs and food. There may be additional charges for things like haircuts, phone bills or hospital call-outs, as well as visits from GPs, physiotherapists or other healthcare professionals. Some care homes charge for day trips, excursions and activities for residents while at the home, such as concerts, visits from speakers or entertainers, birthdays and events.
Care Seeker’s main issue with care home fees seems to be that getting a straightforward cost breakdown can be really tricky. In fact, 94% of Care Seekers in the UK believe that care providers are not transparent with their pricing – with many reports of hidden fees, additional costs for services and facilities and even sudden fee increases.
When you are starting your care home search, ask for an honest and up-front summary of a care home’s fees and always read any contract you are given thoroughly before signing.
In the UK, your financial circumstances are taken into account. If you or your elderly parent have savings equivalent to or greater than £23,250 in England and Northern Ireland, £28,750 in Scotland and £50,000 in Wales, you will qualify to pay fees for your own care.
Any assets you own, including the value of your own home, may be taken into account. If you don’t have the required amount, you may be viable for financial support from your local council, who will partly or fully cover the costs.
If your local authority is funding your care, a third party can also volunteer to pay a top up fee to make up the difference if you require a more expensive care home. Your ability to pay for your care home is usually determined by a means test or financial assessment.
When we look at the UK’s continually ageing population and the increasing amount of older people, it comes as no surprise that around 80% of us will need some sort of care by the time we hit our eighties. It’s therefore important to be prepared for the inevitable costs of this care.
Reading up on the funding and benefits you may be entitled to from your local authority can help you to knock some money off your fees. Such benefits include Attendance Allowance, NHS Continuing Healthcare and FNC Funding, Pension Credit and Savings Credit.
You could also look at downsizing your home, using the 12-week property disregard or an Equity Release scheme to grab yourself a few more pennies. If you are able to, saving for a rainy day throughout your adult life can make all the difference when it’s time for you or a loved one to go into care.
For more information on care home costs, fees and funding, check out our useful guide, or take a look at our Care FAQs.