Paying for care is easier than you think

Paying for care isn't as daunting as you might think. Read our guide on paying for care, and use our care funding calculator and four-step plan to help you feel a little more at ease.

How much will care cost?

Paying for Residential care 

Who is responsible for paying care home fees?

There are different options for care home funding. If your savings can cover the funding for care, then you’ll have to pay the fees yourself. However, you may be entitled to local authority, council or NHS support and funding. The two main types of NHS funding includes NHS continuing healthcare and NHS funded nursing care
If the total amount your Local Authority is willing to pay towards your care home doesn’t fully cover your fees, or you choose a home that is more expensive than the amount of funding you’ll receive, you will likely need to cover the difference. This is called a top-up fee. Before deciding if you will cover these fees, it’s important to think carefully about whether you’d be able to afford them in the future if your situation changes, such as if you experience a change in income. It’s also important to remember that care homes can increase their fees annually, however the funding from your Local Authority is unlikely to go up, so you may find your top up fees increasing each year. 
Occasionally, charities can help with top up fees. Ask your council to connect you to independent advice if you’re worried about affording top up fees, or need additional financial support. 

You’ll still receive your income from pensions if you move into a care home. However, if any of your fees are paid by your local authority or the NHS, you may have to use your State Retirement Pension to contribute to the cost of care.

What is the 12-week disregard for care home fees? 

If you live in England, you have to fund your care costs independently if you have total assets worth more than the upper capital limit of £23,250. However, if your liquid assets are below this amount but you own a property which you intend to sell to fund your long-term care, the local authorities must disregard the value of your property for the first 12 weeks of you moving into a care home, and fund your care. When the 12 weeks are over, or your property is sold (whichever happens first), you must fully fund your own care. If your financial circumstances change unexpectedly when you’re already in a care home, the council can still apply the 12-week disregard.

When your local authority carries out your financial assessment, they will let you know if you’re eligible for the 12-week disregard.

What happens when a person in a nursing home runs out of money?

If your savings have dropped below the required costs of your care, it can be a distressing and anxious time. However, your local authority still has a duty of care to those who have been officially assessed as having care needs, including for funding care, even if you were initially able to afford the costs of your care personally. 

If you’re worried about funding your care, contact your local council or authority for a financial assessment or care needs assessment to see if you’re entitled to care funding.


Paying for home care 

When working out how much you’ll pay for home care, It’s important to factor in daily living costs, such as utility bills, food etc. The cost of home care will also be influenced by the type of care needed, such as domiciliary care, convalescent care, and 24-hour or hourly care. 

It’s important to check whether your chosen provider charges additional fees or extra costs alongside your weekly rate. These can include extra charges for nightly wake-ups if your carer lives with you, charges for sourcing a carer, surcharges over bank holidays, or a one-off fee for using an agency’s services. 

Check if your provider charges a flat rate, or will offer a personalised rate for your care, based on your care needs. This will mean you’re only paying for the care you require. 

If you live in Scotland, no matter your condition, capital or income, if you need personal care, you’re entitled to an allowance for personal or nursing care.

What happens when a person receiving home care runs out of money?

If you’re worried about paying for future care, it may help to seek financial advice from an independent advisor (IFA). Unfortunately, these services aren’t usually free, although some organisations do offer the first consultation on a no-obligation basis, which can provide useful independent advice on what to do next. 

Elder where to seek support if you're caring for someone and not sleeping


Get clarity on paying for care

Start by using our care costs calculator to get clarity on the funding options that are most suited to your situation. Take a few minutes, answer a few details about your care needs and financial situation, and it’ll give you a good idea of where to start. 

Our four-step plan to pay for care

When approaching care funding for the first time, it can all feel a bit overwhelming. You may not know where’s best to start. After helping thousands of families with their care funding options, we’ve devised a simple, four-step strategy to getting the money you deserve.

Step 1– Get the benefits you’re entitled to

These are the simplest ways to maximise income. There is usually very little friction in terms of application, and much more people are eligible than claim. This can help you to afford the care you want. Billions of pounds go unclaimed each year – make sure you’re not missing out. Key benefits to look at include Attendance Allowance, Pension Credit, Carer’s Allowance, Personal Independence Payment and council tax rate relief.

Step 2 – Check your eligibility for NHS funding

This is a funding stream that covers all your care costs. It’s paid by your local NHS and is available for those who need support with long-term health needs.

NHS funding is the most difficult type of funding to get. However, should you qualify, you’re able to get your full care costs covered – so it’s worth starting with.

To do this, speak with your GP – asking for an NHS Continuing Healthcare Checklist. This is a quick screening test to see whether you’re suitable for a full assessment. With a personal health budget, you’re able to decide how your money is spent.

Elder what costs will you need to cover for your home care

The checklist

This is the first stage in the assessment process to check eligibility for a full assessment, carried out by a doctor, nurse or social worker. Around 62% people pass it.

Elder's guide to the Local Authority financial assessment

The full assessment

This is the main assessment. A multidisciplinary team of health and social care workers will look through 12 care ‘domains’ to assess your eligibility.

Decision support tool 

The Decision Support Tool helps assessors come to consistent decisions about who is eligible for funding. You can try the tool yourself for free online beforehand.

After the assessment

If eligible, a team will work with you to plan your care. You’ll have a big say over this. For example, you can take control of your funding with a personal health budget, or choose your own care provider.

Step 3 – Access local authority care funding

Most people fund their care with support from their local authority. But this is best to check after you’ve first ruled out NHS funding, as a referral from the NHS may increase your chances of getting care funding. This starts with a care needs assessment, and then a financial assessment. In England, you’ll be entitled to some care funding if you have less than £23,250 in liquid assets. You can request whatever funding you are entitled to as a direct payment, which puts you in control of how you want to spend it.

Understand the Care Act 

The care act 2014 is the law that states how adult social care should be provided. It maps out eligibility for care and requires local authorities to provide services for people with care needs without delay that will impact their needs or make them worse.

The care needs assessment - Elder

Care needs assessment

This will tell you exactly what care needs you have. If you’re entitled to funding, the care needs assessment determines the size of your budget.

Financial assessment

This means test assessment is to decide who is responsible for paying for your care – you or your local council.

The free Elder care funding calculator can help you understand what you can claim towards the cost of your care

Personal budget

This is the amount of money you need to pay for the cost of your care needs. The sum of your budget is based on the results of both assessments. 

Direct Payments

Direct payments are a way for you to take control of your personal budget and choose for yourself how you want to spend it. 

Home adaptations 

Upgrade your home to make it suitable for care. You can get up to £1,500 from your local authority, regardless of your financial situation.

Step 4 – Funding care with savings or assets

If you’re not able to get your care fully funded by your local authority, all is not lost. You can use your liquid assets, or use any of a range of financial products to help you pay for care. There is an ever-increasing range of ways to release equity from your home. These products allow you to stay in your own home but use its value to fund your care.


Things to remember

Paying for care can feel like a stressful and daunting process. It may feel like you’ve suddenly been launched into a world of box tickers and bureaucrats. But with the right mindset, there’s nothing stopping you from arranging the care you think is best.


It’s simpler to navigate than you think

The system is complex – and sometimes feels like it’s against you – but we can help break things down into manageable next steps.


There are always options

There are always options available. It may not feel like it sometimes. But don’t give up. Relax, and let us help you put together a plan.


We’re always here to support you

When you feel alone – lost – in the system, we’re on your side, championing your right to funding, and giving you the confidence to make decisions.


Hold your nerve

If you do your research and seek expert advice, you’ll be confident to challenge any decisions or assessments you don’t feel to be correct.