There are a number of options when it comes to paying for your assisted living costs. Our guide sets out the options to paying for care.
Im sure you will agree that when it comes to finding out about Assisted Living, it can get very confusing!
In this guide we will give you all the information you need to find out if Assisted Living is right for you or your loved one.
On this page, we will explain:
There once were only a small number of limited options available to anybody needing or considering care in later life.
Yet recently a rapidly ageing population here in the UK has led to a number of innovative new solutions which have been developed to suit different types of care needs and individuals.
With so many care options now available, it can be confusing and difficult to choose the type of care which best suits your needs and personal preferences.
At UK Care Guide we understand that any decision affecting your independence and lifestyle can be daunting, which is why we’ve compiled our helpful guides to different types of care.
In this section we discuss assisted living, and offer advice and guidance to help you determine whether assisted living might be suitable for you.
Assisted living is a type of residential care which involves an individual (or a couple) living independently in a specialist complex (often known as Assisted Living Facilities, or ALF).
The facilities in which the individual lives differ in terms of what they offer, but usually they provide nurses and care staff onsite to attend to individuals with care needs at any given time.
As an individual you will choose how much or little you participate in optional activities, and you’ll also have access to care on-site.
Care offered at assisted living facilities can range between help with basic everyday tasks (like cleaning and shopping) to more advanced care (personal care, medical attention) and caters for a variety of needs and requirements. What is on offer can vary between assisted living providers.
You’ll normally have 24 hour on call assistance and fitted alarms in each property, which can offer peace of mind for those who are infirm or have mobility issues. Care can be administered on a regular basis or one-off, as much or as little as you would like.
Often the facilities within the home are aimed at helping to make your life easier. For example you will often find electric recliner chairs or riser recliner chairs. These will help you as you get in and our of your chair. More specifically they are designed to help those with painful backs.
Assisted living facilities are usually more appropriate for those with low-level care needs (which may or may not deteriorate), such as mobility issues or memory loss.
The best thing to do if you feel you may need care provision now (or in the near future) is to speak to your GP or social worker, or a consultant if you have on-going medical needs.
They may arrange a care needs assessment, which determines exactly which type of care you need and which will be best for you.
Here is a useful video that explains what a care needs assessment is and how it works. Well worth a watch!
You can then use this along with your personal preference to choose whether assisted living care (or a different type of care altogether) is suitable for you.
However despite this, lots of people choose to enter into assisted living facilities at an early stage, when they do not require additional care. This is because they feel comfortable being in a safe environment with the appropriate facilities, should they feel they need additional care provision in the future.
You can find a list of assisted living providers on the internet – but often this can be confusing and time-consuming.
Using a local directory or a dedicated website, such as here which lists only the most relevant results to you cuts down on time and ensures you’re more likely to find an assisted living facility which is right for you.
You can find some assisted living facilities in our residential care home search section.
It’s also worth asking for personal recommendations from people you know. This ensures that you’re getting a personal perspective or word-of-mouth recommendation – both are much more valuable than advertising.
Did you know that on average it takes about 30 hours to find a care home and much is that is spent finding out about how to find a care home and the questions you should be asking?
This is why we launched the Care Home Finder Service. Basically, you just tell us what you are looking for and we will go away, and working with our partners, find you a care home that meets your requirements within 48 hours. All for FREE! You can read more about the matching service here.
To help us, we have Rory the Robot. You can chat to him and tell him what you need (he even occasionally talks back!) and based on that we will find you a care provider. All you need to do is click ‘Yes, help me find care!” below.
Some assisted living facilities are comprised of self-contained apartments, whilst others feature small houses or bungalows. These are safe, secure compounds which are often only accessible to residents and staff.
Some larger complexes have hairdressers, shops, cafes and leisure facilities on site.
Often there are gardens or outside areas you can enjoy – and some properties even have personal gardens so that you can continue to tend to your own space.
As an individual, you usually have the opportunity to own or rent your property independently.
Other options like shared ownership or lease schemes are sometimes available. There may be a service and maintenance charge and additional costs for care on top of your initial outlay, or built into your rent or mortgage as appropriate.
This is the main advantage of choosing assisted living over residential care, as overall the costs are lower when compared to residential or nursing care.
Assisted Living costs can vary greatly depending on the factors outlined in the section above and where you live in the UK. The more facilities that the home has the more the cost. The costs will typically range from £500 to £1,000 per week.
As a comparator, you can compare the costs using our residential care cost calculator.
When you are researching this option, we recommend you contact some providers and ask them to clarify their assisted living costs and to confirm what it would cost over a range of different duration’s of time.
We would also recommend that you ask a full breakdown of the services that you will receive for the costs that you will be paying.
Paying for an assisted living home is a little different when compared with residential or nursing care.
If you move into assisted living you can use your PIP (Personal Independence Payment) or Attendance Allowance (if you are over 65) towards the monthly cost of maintenance and care. However if you are moving into assisted living you’ll need to pay for the initial outlay (usually the purchase of your property) yourself.
This is something the government does not subsidise – this unfortunately means that it is not normally a viable option for those with low incomes and few assets or funds.
However it may be possible for you to sell your existing home and purchase an assisted living property with plenty of cash to spare. You could then invest this in another property or into a savings account to help towards the cost of future care.
For more information on the paying care fees, please read our section on the different way that you can pay your care costs.
You will find details of the 6 main ways in which you can typically meet your care fees as well as details of the advantages and disadvantage of each option. Getting this is right is really important, so we do strongly recommend that you read this.
You can use certain benefits (like Attendance Allowance) towards the cost of assisted living, as well as any pension funds you may have.
To find out whether you’re eligible for benefits, it’s best to visit your local Age UK centre or Citizens Advice Bureau, where somebody can help you to determine your current situation and can identify which benefits you’re entitled to.
They can also help you to fill out an application form. Your GP or another medical professional may need to carry out a care needs assessment or other kind of assessment to determine which benefits you can claim, and how much you will receive.
You can also find details of benefits available here on the UK Care Guide website and on the gov.uk website.
Assisted living care promotes a slightly different ethos compared with traditional residential or nursing care. The idea behind assisted living is for the individual to maintain independence and live independently or with a partner as they have done previously.
Individuals in assisted living often directly own or rent the property they live in, which is of course less expensive compared with comprehensive residential care.
Here is a short video discussing the differences between assisted living and a nursing home.
The comparison chart below should give some idea of the differences between assisted living and residential or nursing care:
The main differences with residential care and assisted living facilities concern freedom and independence. Assisted living is more like staying in your own home, yet with the added peace of mind of on-going professional support and security.
In lots of ways assisted living homes similar to the type of provision offered in sheltered accommodation.
Yet assisted living is a more modern take on sheltered accommodation and often assisted living facilities are more contemporary and up-to-date. Additionally they’re usually larger than older sheltered accommodation units.
Your eligibility for assisted living homes will depend on the severity of your care needs.
Although assisted living facilities do provide medical and nursing assistance, it is usually only appropriate for those with lower-level care needs. The philosophy of assisted living is independence, and residents are usually free to come and go.
Nursing care usually involves a lot of time spent inside with medical attention and attendance, so most assisted living facilities are unequipped to take on individuals with intensive care needs.
Many people who are looking at assisted living or home care as options, struggle to choose between the two – as both have particular benefits. Which you choose will come down to;
– your personal preference
– your financial status: and
– the future prognosis for your health
14a) Your personal preference
Some key questions you need to consider, from a personal perspective, if you are thinking about moving in to an assisted living home, include:
14b) Your financial status
Some key questions you need to consider, from a financial perspective, if you are thinking about moving in to an assisted living home, include:
14c) The future prognosis for your health?
Some key questions you need to consider, from what the future holds perspective, if you are thinking about moving in to assisted living home, include:
Taking into account the above questions should help you to form a clearer picture of your current situation and prospective future needs.
You can then choose whether to opt for home care or assisted living. It’s worth noting that you can choose home care in the interim whilst you make a decision on which assisted living Facilities to choose, or whether to move into assisted living at all.
There is only one type of assisted living – but all providers differ in their offering. Of course the location and environmental surroundings of assisted living facilities are different.
Some providers allow you to ‘pay as you go’. In this situation you move to an assisted living facility and purchase your property and pay the basic fee for maintenance and additional services. You then pay or apply for additional care as it is needed – so you don’t waste money by paying for a full package early on.
There are alternatives to assisted living, but they are quite different. The closest alternative (which still allows you to remain independent) is home care, and in particular live in care, or traditional sheltered accommodation.
Aside from the above some providers also offer ‘Supported Housing’ schemes.
In these situations individuals or couples live independently in their own room or small flat. Unlike residential care you are free to come and go as you please and you’re normally situated near local amenities such as shops.
Carers will work with you as needed and you’ll also have access to 24 hour assistance. However it’s important to note that unlike assisted living you won’t have access to facilities on-site and accommodation may be smaller.
Again, which you choose comes down to your situation, personal preference and any financial constraints placed upon you. If you don’t feel that assisted living is for you but are confused as to which other option may be more appropriate for you, speak to your GP or social worker, visit your local Age UK centre or take a look at our related articles on different types of care here.
There are many assisted living providers to choose from – so deciding which is best for you can be a daunting task. It’s best to adopt a targeted approach, considering several key factors before making a shortlist of the providers who you feel best suit you.
The first thing to do is narrow down your choices by location. If you’d like to stay close to family and friends, you’ll need to search for an assisted care facility in your local area – or perhaps if you’d like to move closer to relatives you’ll need to search the area in which they currently live.
Some key questions you need to consider, from a facilities perspective, if you are thinking about moving in to assisted living include:
From company to company the above can differ – and some may also be subject to tiered packages incurring separate costs. Certain mainstream providers will provide the same offering across the board.
Is there room for manoeuvre in this assisted living facility should your care needs change? It’s best to choose somewhere you’ll be able to stay should your circumstances not remain the same. If you know your health or condition may deteriorate, consider options which allow flexibility for the future.
Cost will of course be a factor when you choose a care provider. You should be able to obtain quotes from facilities based on your independent circumstances. We strongly recommend that you consider all options available to you when it comes to paying for your care. So many people pay more than they need to
Before making your shortlist, it’s a good idea to check comments made by those already using the company in question. This way you can ensure that you are getting the high quality service they promote.
Some assisted living homes unfortunately get booked up quickly. Occupancy rates vary and naturally people come and go if they need to move to a nursing home or unfortunately pass away – but generally occupants stay for life.
Check availability before anything else – as you could be disappointed if you find your shortlisted facilities are all full and have long waiting lists.
Once you’ve made your shortlist, you should then arrange visits to each facility you’ve chosen. You should try to turn up on spec, as this way you won’t be shown a ‘false’ impression of the environment you’ll be living in. Bear in mind that you may need to book to view a property within the facility.
The five most important things that you can do as you are moving to care are:
a) Make a Will
This will help ensure you determine what happens to your assets. If you don’t make a will the government will decide what happens to your money and assets. You can read more about what will writing services offer here.
b) Create a Lasting Power of Attorney
This will help ensure that should your mental health deteriorate there is someone in place to make decisions on your behalf.
We strongly recommend that you read this section as there are two types of powers of attorney that you need to consider. These are a health and welfare power of attorney and a property and financial affairs power of attorney.
c) Set up a Funeral Plan
Its never a topic we really want to think about, but the cost of funerals can be expensive. Therefore, we recommend that you look at pre-paid funeral plans. You can read more about funeral plans here.
d) Undertake Estate Planning
If you have any assets you will no doubt have some thoughts about where you want these to go when the time comes. You can read more about the things you need to think about with regards to Estate Planning here. You may also find our article on avoiding inheritance tax interesting. There are a number of perfectly legitimate routes that you can undertake if you wish to minimise the tax that is paid to the government when the time comes,
In addition, the person that is responsible for dealing with your estate will need to get Probate. This will therefore allow that individual to carry out your financial and legal wishes. You can read more about what it is and Probate costs here.
e) Consider putting your assets and house in to a trust
Whilst it is not possible to put your property and assets in to a trust to avoid care home fees, it is perfectly possible for you to put them in to a trust for other reasons. These include ensuring that you determine who owns your property on your death etc. The three main types of trusts that people consider are:
There are a number of options when it comes to paying for your assisted living costs. Our guide sets out the options to paying for care.
Use our search facility to look for care homes that may offer assisted living facilities.