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Home care: What are the costs?

The costs of home care to an individual can vary widely and are dependent on many different factors. These include the type of care needed, how many hours a week you need a caregiver to be present, your own financial situation, where in the UK you live and whether you are eligible for any assistance with your care fees.

Fully Funded NHS Continuing Care

Some people are assessed as in need of continuing health care and may be eligible for fully funded NHS continuing care. This can be provided in a hospital, a care home or by care at home, and is not means tested. There are relatively complex eligibility guidelines that have been set out by the government but, in England and Wales, these are open to interpretation by the person’s local NHS trust.

The Dilnot Report

An independent report published on 4 July 2011 by the Dilnot Commission recommended that the total care fees paid by any individual in their lifetime should be capped at £35,000. This is based simply on care fees and does not include so-called ‘hotel costs’ which consist of food, heat, lighting and so on. These are expected to cost an additional £7,000 to £10,000 each year. At present, however, no upper limit has yet been imposed on the fees for residential care or in-home care paid by an individual.

The Position Today

Those individuals who need elderly care but do not qualify for fully funded NHS continuing care will be subject to means testing. The means test for both residential and in-home care looks at your income and any capital such as property or savings you have. If your capital is under a certain amount - currently £23,250 in England and Wales - you should be eligible for local authority assistance with your care fees.

In residential care you should be left with no less than £24.90 a week after paying your care fees. This amount is known as your Personal Expenses Allowance. People who are remaining independent and living in their own property and receiving elderly care obviously still have utilities such as gas, electricity and water to pay for, as well as food and all the other expenses associated with independent living.

Following a financial assessment, if you have capital assets or income levels that mean you will have to fund your own in home care you still have a “right to request” that your assessed needs for care are met. This means that the local authority has a duty to arrange appropriate care for you, but is entitled to charge an arrangement fee. You may prefer to arrange your own care or a family member may be able to support you in this.

Mikis’ care story

In this short video, Nick and Maro explain their reasons for choosing Elder live-in care.

They discuss how live-in care has allowed Nick’s father Mikis to stay independent in his own home while making a new friend at the same time.

Types of Care

The actual costs of care can vary a great deal. In care homes providing dementia care, the fees are frequently higher than those charged for basic elderly care. This is because it can be more intensive on staff and other resources to care for people who are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias that may cause their behaviour to be challenging at times.

In home care there is not usually the same distinction between fees for dementia care and straightforward elderly care, although the people who provide care at home may need specific training in Alzheimer’s care or dementia care.

The hourly rate paid for care in the home can vary from one provider to another, but not usually by a great deal. It is always advisable to research potential care providers thoroughly and not to just opt for the least expensive. In private care at home it is more important to find a provider who can match your needs with an experienced and trained carer who you can trust.

The major factor in deciding how much care at home will cost is how many hours of care are needed each week. Although 24/7 care may initially appear expensive, it can actually be comparable with residential care fees and gives your loved one the advantage of staying safely in your own familiar environment.

For some older couples, private live-in care can be much more cost effective than residential care and ensures that they can stay together for their final years. Having a live-in carer can also widen their social horizons and support them in their chosen social activities.

Live-in care can encompass more than just care, and a carer will help with tasks such as cooking and cleaning as well, which can save the need of having to employ additional domestic help. Having someone that your loved one gets along with knows really well is the next best thing to being cared for by a close member of the family, and also helps to preserve family relationships. Sometimes providing ongoing care to a loved one can result in friction between the parties, and this can be avoided if someone else takes major responsibility for the care.

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