Care home fees - a worry for eldery people

Care Home Fees And Why You Should Be Worried About Them


Care home fees are something many people are worried about, but something most people don’t prepare for either. Here we look at basic care home fee Q&A’s to help you better prepare for the cost of senior care.

Care home fees are something most people are concerned about, whether that is for their own care when they get older, or the care home fees of their family members.

Sadly, this fear is not unfounded. According to not-for-profit organisation PayingForCare.Org in the UK the average person can expect to pay around £30,000 a year on average for a place in a care home, and possibly significantly more in some locations and for different personal circumstances. Weekly care home fees can reach a staggering £1200 a week in the South East of England, sometimes even more closer to London.

The first step to alleviating any worry is understanding how care home fees work, so you can prepare properly. Knowledge is key when it comes to avoiding pitfalls associated with these costs.

Here are some helpful Q&A’s to help you understand more about the costs involved:

Who Pays For Care Fees?

If you or a relative has been successfully assessed as needing to go into a residential or nursing home, and you have less than £23,250 in capital (that’s savings, shares and other investments), then you are entitled to some financial support. That financial support comes from your local authority.

If you have under £14,250 capital you get the full support on offer, but you have to give up all of your incoming money apart from just £23.90 a week for yourself.

When you have more than the £14,250 threshold but less than the minimum £23,250 to get state funding, then you have to pay £1 a week care contribution for every £250 more than £14,250 you have up to the £23,250.

For those people with assets, such as shares or savings, these are included in the assessment of your capital and so, if your capital is more than £23,250 you are expected to pay your own fees.

If you own your own home that is also included as capital but only if you do not have a partner living there who jointly owns the property. Jointly owned property is not included in the financial assessment while your partner is still living there after you move into a residential home.

Can I Choose A Home That Costs More Than The Local Authority Budget?

As long as there is proof the extra cost can be contributed to long term, the local authority will allow you to choose a more costly home. But this additional money can only be contributed by a third party not by the person in the care home.

For example: if your Mum needs to go into a care home and has £30,000 capital, she cannot show she has £23,250 capital, get local authority funding and then use the rest of her money to top up fees for a better care home. However, if she only has between £14,250 and £23,250 capital, but her son has the income to top the local authority contributions up so she can go into a more expensive care home – that is allowed.

What Happens If I Self Fund Care Home Costs

If you sell your home to get capital for fees and have capital below £23,250 aside from your home, you are only entitled to 12 weeks’ worth of care home fees from your local authority. When capital amounts to more than £23,250 aside from your property, you will get financial help but that money will be recovered once your home is sold. If you don’t want to sell your home, Social Services will lend you the money to pay for your care against the value of your home, but there will be a limit to how much you can borrow, and your benefits entitlement might be affected.

Is There Any Non-Means-Tested Support For Care Home Fees?

There is something called Attendance Allowance which isn’t taxed and is not means-tested and is available for those self-funding their care. It provides help up to around £80 a week for day and night care. If you need nursing care in a care home, you are also entitled to nursing care funding from the NHS which is around £110 pounds per week paid directly to your nursing home. In some situations, a person might be entitled to have everything paid for.

Also there is a service available from, and arranged by, the NHS called NHS Continuing Healthcare which is for people who have a primary health need. Unlike social and community services provided by local authorities NHS Continuing Healthcare is free of charge.

If you are eligible it can be provided either:

  • in your own home – the NHS will pay for a community nurse or specialist therapist, and provide help with bathing, dressing and laundry
  • in a care home – as well as healthcare and personal care, the NHS will pay for your care home fees, including board and accommodation

What Happens If I Run Out Of Money When Self Funding

Once you have less than the £23,250 threshold you can apply for local authority funding. However, if the home you are in costs more than the local authority will pay, you will be in a very difficult situation where you need either a third party (such as a family member) to top up the costs, or you will need to move to a less expensive home.

Even though local authority help is valuable and helpful, it really doesn’t take away the worry associated with care home fees.

According to our No Place Like Home Report, 72% of people worry about having to sell their home to pay for care home fees, and 70% of people worry about having to go into a care home in the first place. 69% of people worry that their family couldn’t afford good caring services for them, proving that the entire issue is something that affects everyone involved, not just the person with residential care needs. In all cases, the more financial planning a family can do, the better.

The worst thing when facing long-term care is to be unprepared and have to make a rushed decision. So sit down with your family as soon as you can and discuss your choice of care options so that when the time comes you will be happy with your choice.

Previous Post
What Is Live-in Care and Why Should You Care?
Next Post
Home Care Services: A Better Alternative To A Residential Home

You may also be interested in…

6 Comments. Leave new

  • Do the same calculations come into play if my mother wants to stay at home with live-in care?

  • In fact, local authorities are less and less likely to pay for care – you need to have a lot of care needs to get any payment.

  • Aaryanna Cox Gordon
    July 27, 2017 9:33 am

    The most important thing of all to look at when you are ascertaining what care you would like is to know exactly what you are getting. Most people have a belief that in a care home you have around the clock care, this simply isnt the case. A significant amount of the care home fee is made up of accommodation and food costs and quite often the actual care in terms of ‘touch time’ is very little. make sure you know exactly what care you are getting as actually, the 121 time is critical and is what makes the difference to health and well being. A Live-In carer is able to give significantly more 121 focused time working with people to achieve the best outcomes possible and importantly to a routine that is not institutionalised

  • That’s a very good point about how much more 1-2-1 or “touch time” there is with live-in care rather than a residential care home – and that is so important for both physical and emotional well-being.

  • It’s often a difficult and awkward situation having to talk to family members about care home fees. It’s shocking how expensive they are (especially in London and the Home Counties). And from my own experience it is difficult to see what you are paying for. Often the old people are left on their own for hours on end in just one room with just the TV for company.

    I’ve known parents of friends continually ask when they are going home because they don’t realise that the one room they now live in is their “home”. It’s so sad for old people to be taken away from their own homes right at a time of life when they are especially fragile – I know there isn’t always another option, but it’s still sad.

    On top of that you have to have the delicate conversation about how much a care home will cost, and it could – and does – use up all of a person’s life savings, leaving them with little personal money to spend on themselves.

    • Thanks for commenting Amanda – you’re right that it is difficult talking about the financial side of care, even with your own family. Take a look at one of our other posts “How To Talk To Your Parents About Care Options” which has some ideas on how to open such conversations, how to pick the right moment to talk about care costs and how to be careful not to impose your own views on your parents.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.