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Is 24-hour home care an alternative to care homes?

24-hour care is an alternative to care homes that:

  • Is often 30% cheaper
  • Offers a better quality of life
  • Maintains your loved one’s independence
  • Provides stability
  • Provides familiar surroundings

As older people live longer, there is an ever-increasing demand for quality care. A Laing and Buisson survey conducted in 2016 revealed that there are approximately 416,000 people living in care homes across the UK.

This figure equates to 4% of the total population aged 65 and older living in care homes, increasing to 16% living in care homes for those aged 85 and older. The overall value of the care home industry in the UK hit £15.7bn in 2016, which is around 1% of the UK’s GDP. Many people, however, are now choosing to meet their loved ones’ needs by providing them with 24-hour care at home instead.

Choosing the best environment for your loved one

Where is the best place for your loved one to live? This decision underpins your loved one’s care. Your decision will be motivated by personal preferences, whether specialist care such as dementia care is required and how much the care you need will cost.

Because of rising care home costs), more and more families are electing to care for their loved ones at home to provide a better quality of life without an unrealistic price tag.

Why are care homes suddenly so expensive?

The care home landscape is complicated when it comes to fees and funding. At its core, care home fees vary dramatically across the UK because care home costs are dependent on the local council.

For instance, some care homes in London can cost as much as £1,000 per week. To give you an idea, you can expect to pay on average £29,250 per annum for a care home place, and an average of £39,300 if your loved one’s care involves nursing.

In addition to this uneven foundation, care homes nationally are navigating a series of significant financial obstacles which are dictating the cost of care. Care homes say one of the biggest challenges is that local councils do not contribute enough funding for them to run adequately.

Care homes say they have no choice but to charge the people they care for who are deemed able to pay for their own care - called ‘self-funders’ - to help fund those who require financial assistance. Incidentally, older people are only eligible for care home funding if their assets total less than £23,250. As most elderly people are homeowners, they do not qualify for care home funding.

Citizens Advice revealed care home fees in 2015 rose on average by £900 per anum, with thousands of elderly people having little notice of the price hike. Experts also advise the 1% increase on council bills - from 2% to 3% this year - doesn’t solve local councils’ lack of funding.

In addition to this tricky set of circumstances, care homes have to cope with the same set of rising household costs as individual residential homes (fuel, food, cleaning and maintenance) but have the additional challenges of increasing wages and rent. Some care home groups also have high borrowings to factor into their running costs as well.

Dulcie’s care story

In this short video, Dulcie and her family explain their reasons for choosing Elder live-in care.

What are the benefits of home care?

There are several immediate benefits when you choose at-home care for your loved one. These include maintaining your loved one’s independence, consistent care from dedicated carers (usually two) and remaining in their familiar and comforting surroundings for as long as possible.

Not only can your loved one maintain their existing social connections, but they also benefit from dedicated, regular interactions with their home care worker. Arranging 24-hour home care also ensures your loved one benefits from home cooked meals as well as increased stability at home, as opposed to the considerable disruption of placing your loved one in a care home.

And, with skyrocketing care home fees and lack of funding support, families like yours are choosing to invest in care at home to ensure their loved one experiences a positive quality of life.

Isn’t home care expensive?

Surprisingly, home care is not as expensive as you may think. You also have greater control over what you pay for compared to care home charges, and your loved one has a greater chance of receiving local council funding for home care.

This is because council means testing for home care financial support excludes the value of the property from the total asset threshold of £23,250. Your council will evaluate your loved one’s needs to determine the amount of funding it will award. It’s worth noting that funding for both care homes and care at home does not cover any living costs.

A care home’s fees are more generalised, whereas home care costs are much more precise and influenced by your wants and needs, rather than the other way round. You have greater choice and control over the care professional you hire, whether you work with a home care agency or directly with a self-employed carer. As a comparison, live-in care can cost on average £600 - £800 per week.

The challenge of how to care for our ageing population is a challenge that affects us all. Families are increasingly choosing home care for their loved ones, offering better living arrangements, improved quality of life and greater control over what they pay for. Home care provides your loved one with the opportunity to remain independent for as long as possible.

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