The hidden costs of UK care homes

20 hidden costs that can easily add £500 a month to care home fees


When considering a care home for a loved one, many families will obviously focus on the headline care home fees. However, beneath the surface, there’s a layer of additional costs that can increase overall expenditure. 

To help better understand the costs, the UK Care Guide has undertaken a detailed piece of research to determine both where the extra costs arise, and how much they could be.

The survey looked at the often overlooked or underestimated expenses, providing a better idea of the true cost associated with care homes. From personal care nuances to seemingly minor amenities like internet connectivity or magazine subscriptions, these supplementary charges can cumulatively add up to £500 a month to the standard fees.

Table of Contents

Why understanding these costs is important

Understanding these additional costs is crucial for several reasons. 

Firstly, it helps with budgetary planning, ensuring families are not caught off-guard or financially strained. 

Secondly, it highlights the importance of understanding the services provided by care homes, allowing families to better evaluate the cost of the care homes they are looking at.

Ultimately, this information paves the way for making informed decisions, ensuring loved ones receive optimal care without compromising on essential amenities or comforts.

The 20 hidden costs of care

1 – Personal Care Costs

While basic services such as assistance with dressing, washing, and meals are part of the standard package, there are specific instances where more intensive care or additional services might be needed. These can involve specialised bathing assistance, in-depth grooming, or extra mealtime help.

Estimated Cost – Rates can fluctuate between £50 to £200 weekly, influenced by the resident’s requirements and the care home’s policies.

2 – Medical Expenses

The care home’s standard fees might not encompass certain therapies, treatments, or medications. Particularly, nursing homes sometimes have billable exclusive treatments or specialised medicines.

Estimated Cost – Costs can swing between £10 to £150 weekly, depending on the health needs of the individual.

3 – Activity and Outing Fees

Engaging in a diverse range of activities is essential for residents. While many homes offer a standard set of activities, exclusive outings, theatre trips, or special workshops might come with a separate fee.

Estimated Cost –  On average, £10 to £50 weekly.

4 – Hairdressing and Personal Grooming

Some homes have in-house salons, offering haircuts, manicures, or other beauty treatments, which can be a rejuvenating experience for residents but come at an additional price.

Estimated Cost –  Individual sessions range from £5 to £50.

5 – Television and Phone 

Personal phone lines or specific TV packages, such as sports or film channels, can add to the weekly costs. This is especially relevant for residents who value staying connected or have particular entertainment preferences.

Estimated Cost –  Typically, £5 to £30 per week.

6 – Laundry Services

While standard laundry is usually covered, items that require special care, delicate washing, or professional dry cleaning can incur extra charges.

Estimated Cost – An extra £5 to £20 weekly is standard.

7 – Special Dietary Meals

Gourmet meals, special dietary plans, or allergen-free dishes sometimes come with additional charges, ensuring residents’ unique dietary needs are met without compromising on taste.

Estimated Cost – Between £5 and £50 weekly.

8 – One-to-One Care Sessions

Some residents, especially those with advanced conditions or specific needs, often require dedicated attention. This can encompass personalised therapy, specialised recreational activities, or focused educational sessions tailored to their interests and abilities.

Estimated Cost – Sessions can be priced between £20 and £100 each.

9 – Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy, vital for maintaining mobility and physical health, might not be covered under standard care fees. Residents can benefit from specialised exercises, pain relief techniques, and mobility training.

Estimated Cost – Sessions can vary from £30 to £70, depending on their frequency and intensity.

10 – Chiropody (Foot Care)

Regular foot care, essential for overall health and comfort, includes treatments like toenail cutting, corn removal, and general foot health checks.

Estimated Cost – Regular visits range between £20 to £50.

11 – Dental Care

Oral health remains crucial throughout life. Costs can vary from routine check-ups to more complicated dental procedures or fittings.

Estimated Cost – Depending on the specific treatment or check-up, it ranges from £25 to £200 per visit.

12 – Optician Services

Regular eye exams, updates to prescription glasses, or treatments for eye conditions are vital for maintaining good vision.

Estimated Cost – Visits can be priced between £20 to £100.

13 – Alternative Therapies

More homes now offer holistic treatments, including acupuncture, aromatherapy, or massage, to enhance the well-being and comfort of residents.

Estimated CostDepending on the therapy type, sessions can range from £25 to £80.

14 – Transportation Services

Dedicated transport might be available for residents needing transportation to outside appointments, family events, or even leisure outings not covered under standard activities.

Estimated Cost –  Typically, transportation charges swing between £10 and £60 per trip.

15- Guest Meals

Encouraging family visits, some homes offer meal options for visiting family or friends, ensuring a communal dining experience.

Estimated Cost – Meals can vary from £5 to £20 per meal.

16 – Internet/Wi-Fi Services

As technology becomes an integral part of daily life, high-speed or private internet connections for video calls, browsing, or entertainment might be a top priority for some residents.

Estimated Cost – Weekly costs for enhanced connectivity range between £5 and £20.

17 – Specialist Equipment Rental

Specialised mobility aids, adjustable beds, or other advanced equipment essential for the comfort and safety of some residents, might be available for rent.

Estimated Cost – Rentals can fluctuate between £10 and £50 weekly.

18 – Toiletries and Personal Items

Some homes have an on-site shop or concierge service, making it convenient for residents to purchase personal items, ranging from skincare products to comfort items.

Estimated Cost – Weekly expenses can vary between £5 and £30.

19 – Newspaper or Magazine Subscriptions

Staying updated with global events or indulging in leisure reading can be facilitated with dedicated subscriptions.

Estimated Cost – Subscriptions generally cost £2 to £10 weekly.

20 – Insurance for Personal Items

Insurance can offer peace of mind against potential damage or theft for residents with valuable belongings or heirlooms in their rooms.

Estimated Cost – Monthly premiums can range from £10 to £40.

Navigating the intricacies of care home costs in the UK is more than just understanding the upfront fees. 

As evident from our survey above, a wide range of ancillary costs can influence the overall financial commitment of ensuring a loved one’s wellbeing in a care facility. 

These ‘hidden’ costs, often overlooked in the initial research phase, play a significant role in the long-term affordability and sustainability of care home placements.

While the transparency and inclusivity of fees can vary among care homes, being equipped with thorough knowledge will help families make informed decisions. 

Furthermore, it encourages proactive discussions with care home managers and administrators, allowing families to negotiate, where possible, and tailor the best care package that meets financial capability and the resident’s needs.

Overall, understanding the full spectrum of care home expenses is essential. It’s not just about cost but about securing an environment where residents can thrive, engage, and live their later years with dignity, comfort, and joy.

UK Care Guide is really proud to have been featured on some of the UK’s leading websites.