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Care homes – what you need to know

For some people, live-in care simply isn’t an option. It could be because your local authority is refusing direct payments, or your loved one’s condition has reached the stage that a nursing home has become the most suitable option.

Looking for a residential care home for an older person, or older people in your family? You need to make sure you find a care home that offers everything they need. Whether they’re receiving nursing care or less extensive elderly care, it’s quality care that matters.

When searching for the most suitable facility, it’s not just about the care service. Ultimately, more practical considerations such as cost, location and visiting hours come into play. In this guide, we go through what to look for when finding a care home for a loved one and link to our recommended care homes in your area.

Types of care home

Although the basic concept is the same, not all care homes are there for the same people. There are a variety of facilities for a variety of needs.

However, an issue you may find is whether you’re able to come across a suitable care home, with available beds, in your area. The very good institutions are hard to come by, and even when you do, the beds are often full.

Nursing homes

A nursing home is a facility where a medical professional – typically a trained nurse – is there to support those with acute needs. They’ll help administer medication, treat any symptoms and provide ongoing diagnosis to ensure the level of support remains suitable.

Luxury care homes

For those with a larger budget, luxury care homes are often situated in desirable areas and have a wider array of facilities. You can expect landscaped gardens, spacious bedrooms and a wide variety of activities on offer.

Dementia care homes

As the name suggests, these are specialist facilities focused on those living with dementia. This often means you can expect 24/7 on-call support, dementia-friendly social activities and spaces designed with dementia in mind. The staff in such facilities are likely to be trained in dementia care.

Hospice care homes

Hospice care homes are for those living with a terminal or life-limiting illness or condition. They focus on palliative and end of life care. These are particular disciplines that focus on ensuring someone enjoys the time they have left the best they can.

What care homes charge for

When you’re paying so much for care, you need to know where your money is going. Your fees breakdown into specific categories, which can vary depending on the services on offer at your selected residential care facility.

Whatever care home you decide on, it’s really important to ensure you budget for additional costs or price rises – as both are tactics care homes use to raise additional revenue.

Hotel costs

This is to cover the expenses of the facilities, including utility bills and rent for the room. Although you should read the small print of any contract you sign to ensure there aren’t any additional charges you’re not aware of – for example, internet usage.

Care costs

This is the cost of general support, such as washing, dressing, dining, and social events. This will often be broken down if you receive a monthly invoice.

Nursing care costs

This covers the cost of having a trained medical professional on-hand, necessary for acute needs.

Additional costs

Unfortunately, a number of sources have identified the sector charging hidden fees. Citizen’s Advice has identified costs such as a hairdresser, chiropodist, phone bills, and hospital call-outs often incur an additional charge. This can leave families thousands of pounds out of pocket.

Care home fee increases

Another area of concern is the lack of notice residential care providers give ahead of a fee increase. Without forward-planning, this can have a crippling impact on your long-term financial planning. Shockingly, it has been found that two-thirds of care homes offer four weeks notice or less for fee increases.

Paying for a care home

The amount you pay in care home fees depends on a number of factors. Obviously luxurious care homes – with a large array of facilities – are likely to be more expensive than more affordable options.

But, unlike care in the home, the biggest factor is location. Care home prices are higher in parts of the country where property prices are higher.

Average costs

The Competition and Markets Authority, in its detail 2017 report into the care home market found huge regional variation. In South East England, the average sum someone funding their own care was found to be £1060. The same rate is £670 in North East England.

State funding

For those using state assistance to fund their care, this fee will often be paid directly to the provider by the relevant authority – whether this is your local NHS or council.

You should bear in mind, there can be a gap between the amount your local authority will pay and the amount your choice of care home costs. In this situation, you’ll have to pay the difference. This is often known as a top-up payment.

Budgeting for costs

To avoid the spectre of having to move your loved one from their home, make sure you have enough money to cover the entire period you expect them to require care.

To help you understand what you’re entitled to, we’ve put together a guide on the cost of care and created our care funding calculator.

Care homes near you

Although we passionately believe receiving care in the home is the best option, sometimes it simply isn’t possible. That’s why we’ve selected the best care homes in your area.

East Midlands

East of England

Greater London

North East & Cumbria

North West

Scotland

South East

South West

Wales

West Midlands

Yorkshire & the Humber


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