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Care home fees & options for paying for your nursing home costs
One of the biggest concerns for those seeking care and their families is the cost of accessing care. This is worrying for many as the cost of care is significant, and it’s often confusing and hard to know what to do for the best – or how to properly prepare funds for future care provision. Add this to the emotional nature of making such a difficult decision and it’s understandable that so many leave this crucial element of care until the last minute.
At UK Care Guide this is one of the subjects we get asked about the most. In this section we explore care home fees and explain why preparation is key, and what you can do if you are imminently expecting to access care to ensure you don’t lose out financially. If you are looking for help in paying for care, then we have a directory of financial advisors that can help you.
What can I expect from care home fees?
Care home fees vary greatly depending on the type of care you require, the company running the care home and the location you live in.
Before embarking on a search for a care home ensure that your doctor or social worker has arranged and conducted a care needs assessment for you. You may find that you don’t need as intensive care provision as you first thought. This should result in a reduction in care home fees – or may even mean that you can access home care – in which case you wont need to pay care home fees.
Home care is a great alternative to residential care – and the cost of home care is often less than care home fees. You may also be eligible for NHS continuing healthcare – this is something your medical practitioner or social worker will discuss with you if appropriate.
How are nursing home costs different?
Nursing homes are slightly different to care homes – so nursing home costs need to be catered for and considered accordingly. Nursing home costs may be greater than standard care home fees, as generally the type of care provided is more intensive. Usually those residing in nursing homes are accessing a higher level of care with a medical element to it.
Like care home fees, nursing home costs can also vary greatly. Yet like care home fees you will likely pay a set fee per month. You can expect nursing home costs to be around £690 on average depending on your location.
How can I cover my care home costs?
You can pay for care home costs in a number of ways. How you pay for your care will depend on the overall care home costs, your financial situation and your entitlement to any benefits or government subsidy.
The table below sets out the main routes available to you to pay your care home fees. In essence you can either:
Use your property to pay your care home costs; or
Use your savings and investments to pay for your care home costs
Currently the threshold for government care home funding is set at £23,500. If your savings and assets amount to more than this, you will be expected to cover your care home funding costs independently. This is a problem for many people, as most homeowners naturally possess assets worth more than £23,500.
This is where the anxiety over losing your home when entering care homes comes about. This doesn’t always have to be the case though – you can find more information below.
You will be expected to use all assets available to you to cover the costs of your care. This includes savings, investments and any assets (including property, cars and shares). You should also use your pension and any ongoing sources of income you receive.
Some are eligible for subsidy from the government. Usually this is applicable when you don’t have any assets available to fund your care, or your assets amount to less than the threshold of £23,500. In this situation a means test will be conducted to determine exactly how much help you are entitled to.
If you haven’t already completed a care needs assessment this will also be provided, so that authorities can come to a conclusion regarding the type of care you need and the intensity of the care provision. Then the local authority will inform you of the amount they are willing to pay towards your care.
Usually if you have some funds available you will be required to top up the rest – but you can choose where you access care, provided you can cover the additional cost. When no funds are available you will need to choose a care home from a list provided by your local authority.
Therefore, it is important that you consider how care home funding is going to impact you. This is so that you can better understand what the best option is to fund your care.
Naturally the amount of money you have will diminish over time. For this reason it’s important to forecast the total care home costs you’ll be required to pay out for the total period of care. Although it’s difficult to know how long you’ll need to access care for, erring on the side of caution and predicting a long life is the best way to ensure that you have adequate funds available. Neglecting to do this could result in you having to move from a care home you are comfortable and settled in to a cheaper government funded care home should you run out of money to pay for it.
Calculate your care home costs
To estimate the overall cost of your care (both now and in years to come) you can take advantage of our free online care home fees calculator, which enables you to effectively plan your finances for the future.
Our calculator will help you estimate how much you need to spend on your care home fees over the short, medium and longer term.
How can I ensure my finances are in order when paying for care home? Will my partner or family lose out?
When it comes to paying for care home, it is one of the most stressful aspects of the search for care. Whilst it’s a worrying prospect choosing which type of care is best for you and considering your care options, it’s important that the financial side of things is covered to lower the stress involved and help you to clearly make the best decision for you.
Another big concern for those facing care home costs is the prospect of losing out financially – or disrupting their family in some way. Whilst paying for care home can dent your finances, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to completely lose control over your money or your assets.
A major issue for lots of couples who face paying for care home is the value and ownership of the home in which they currently live in. Unfortunately some individuals need to access care before their partner – and it’s not always financially viable for them to join them in residential care. In this instance your relative won’t be expected to give up your shared home – provided your partner or another dependent person still lives there.
If you are not currently in need or receipt of care it’s a good idea to arrange gifts for family members now before paying for a care home, as opposed to leaving them money in your will.
This guarantees that you can give them the money you wish to even though you’re paying for a care home, as you will be expected to use any assets you have towards the cost of your care.
If you are currently accessing care or local authorities are about to conduct a means test you will not be able to give cash gifts to family members. This could be classed as ‘disposal of assets’ and may be included in your means test regardless.
Am I eligible for subsidised nursing home fees?
As mentioned above, nursing home fees can fall anywhere between £600 and £2,000 per week. To find out whether you are eligible for subsidised nursing home fees you’ll need to contact your local authority.
If your income and assets amount to less than £14,250 you will be eligible for fully subsidised nursing home fees – but as above you will not be able to choose any care home and will need to select one from a list provided by your local authority.
If your income and assets amount of between £14,250 and £23,500 the financial support you’ll receive with your nursing home fees will be calculated on an individual basis.
Although you should take the threshold above as a reference, it’s still worth contacting local authorities for support. They will conduct a care needs assessment and may come to the conclusion that home care may be more suitable – which is often less costly. You can see more about home care later on in this article.
Why is the cost of care homes so great?
The cost of care homes is significant because of the high running costs involved in providing care. Usually the level of care provided in care homes and nursing homes is intensive, with lots of staff and equipment needed round the clock.
The cost of care homes ranges from around £500 per week to over £1,000 per week. As above, planning for the cost of care homes in the future now can greatly improve your chances of being able to afford your chosen placement.
Knowing the cost of care homes in your area (especially those you are considering) before you start to choose as well as setting out a budget accordingly is the best way to ensure your decision-making process is as smooth as possible.
Does the cost of nursing homes vary from place to place? What factors can affect the cost of nursing homes?
Nursing homes provide the same type of care as care homes, but with added medical provision. This usually means that several members of staff are qualified nurses. This enables them to cater for a wide range of more severe care needs.
As with care homes, the cost of nursing homes does vary depending on where you live, and which type of care you need. Different companies also provide different levels of care with additional extras, such as pools, beauty parlours and shops.
Naturally the cost of nursing homes which provide extra facilities such as hairdressers, free trips out and luxury accommodation will be higher. Some ‘premium’ care homes feature self-contained apartments, shops and gymnasiums.
Whilst the cost of nursing homes naturally influences your decision, try to make your choice taking into account the type of care, location and other important aspects which matter most to you.
This is another reason why ascertaining your budget before you start your search is important, as it leaves you clear to make an informed choice with your best interests at heart.
Avoiding care home fees
Care home fees are of course inevitable – but there are things you can do to help reduce the costs of care or actively prepare for care provision in the future. It’s less about avoiding care home fees and more about saving and planning effectively for the future.
Being prepared can ensure that you won’t be out of pocket when the time comes to pay care home fees – and that you can afford to stay in the care home of your choice. Accessing the best possible care may be expensive – but with the right information and support you can put measures in place to ensure that you retain financial control throughout the course of your care.
The first thing to consider is the type of care needs you may have in the future. Although it’s often difficult to predict your health in coming years if you have any medical problems now it’s worth preparing for care provision at some point in the future.
Secondly you’ll need to calculate your estimated income at the time at which you may need care. Most accessing residential care are aged 60 and above – so consider how much pension money you will receive every month and how you’ll cover the costs at that point and in the future.
Another method of avoiding care home fees is to stay at home for as long as possible. Taking care of your health and accessing home care as soon as you need it enables you to stay in your own home for longer and of course helps in avoiding care home fees – at least in the short term. Home care is a viable alternative to residential care – with the costs comparably much lower than care home fees, depending on the type of care required. You can have home care provided as frequently or as occasionally as you need – so if you have a care needs assessment which finds home care is a possible option for you it’s certainly worth considering. You can find out more about home care provision in our dedicated articles here.
Avoiding care home fees isn’t possible forever – but forward planning and exploring other options in the interim if you are eligible can reduce the total amount you’ll pay out for care in your lifetime.
Finding a Care Home – What are the key steps?
If you are in the process to start looking for a care home, we have produced a short video that sets out the 5 key steps that you need to consider when choosing a care home.
More helpful information
See the boxes below for people that can help and other important information you should read.