The Cost of Elder Care in the UK

Published: 24/11/2022

Working out the costs of elderly care

The Cost of Elder Care in the UK

The UK is facing a major challenge in terms of its ageing population. According to Age UK, the number of people over 65 will increase by more than 50% by 2030. This means that an increasing number of elderly people will need some form of care, very soon.

And the cost of elderly care is rising, and is likely to continue to rise. But just how much does elder care cost?

The rising cost of elder care

The primary reason for the rising costs of elder care is people are living longer, and with increased age comes more health risks, which costs more money.

Another reason elder care costs have risen so dramatically is due to a shortage of care workers in Britain. While there are plenty of people looking for jobs in the care industry, many choose to work abroad because they can earn better money elsewhere, and thanks to Brexit, it's probably easier for them to secure employment too. And with a higher demand than supply, care costs increase.

Finally, let's not forget inflation and the cost of living crisis.

How much does elder cost?

This isn't what you want to hear, but there is no set cost of care. How much you'll need to pay will depend on your loved one's needs, financial circumstances, where they live, etc.

What we can do, however, is give you a rough estimate of various elderly care costs as a guide. We've broken these down into six categories:

  • Caring for a loved one yourself
  • Domiciliary care e.g. assistance with daily tasks
  • Live in care - e.g. 24/7 live in carer
  • Residential care
  • Nursing care
  • Respite care costs

1. Caring for a loved one yourself

There are two options here:

  1. You can look after them in their own home
  2. They move in with you and you look after them in your home

Looking after someone in their own home is generally the preferred option, where suitable, because it requires minimum upheaval and is typically the cheapest option.

The cost of caring for someone in their house (or yours) generally stems from having to age-proof the house, e.g. install handrails (£100+), a stairlift (£1000+), easy access bathing facilities (£250+).

On top of these home adaptations comes the added expenses of petrol (to get to their house and to run errands for them), shopping (if you pick up a few pieces a couple of times a week for them, the costs soon add up), and bills (if they move into your house it's another person using the water, gas, electricity etc).

2. Domiciliary care

Domiciliary care, or home care as it's otherwise known, allows elderly people to remain in their own home. This care option tends to work best for people with lower care needs, e.g. people who don't require nursing care.

A professional comes in and intermittently cares for your loved one, in the comfort of their home. This can include anything from helping with daily housekeeping tasks e.g. washing or cleaning, to more personal care e.g. toileting, getting dressed etc.

This type of care is usually charged at an hourly rate. During the day, costs can be between £10-£30 per hour, depending on where your relative lives and what care is required. For overnight care, this price will likely go up and you could pay £100+ each night.

Costs could also go up if you require weekend care cover, or care over a Bank Holiday.

3. Live in care

Live in care is similar to domiciliary care, only it's available 24/7, rather than intermittently. A professional live-in caregiver will move in with your loved one, that is, someone who is a qualified professional with training in caring for people with low level needs.

The added advantage of a live in carer is they don't just provide care, they also provide companionship.

Live in care fees can be anything north of £1,000 per week. This doesn't always include their food costs, so you may have to pay those on top. You might also have to pay petrol costs if the live-in carer is expected to provide transportation to the person they're looking after.

4. Residential care

Residential care isn't just care in a nursing home. Residential care can range from retirement homes, to sheltered accommodation, to respite care providers.

Assisted living e.g. sheltered accommodation

Assisted living usually entails residents having their own flat or house, with their own front door. It's a step up from living in their own house, but a step down from a residential care home.

The advantage here is residents maintain their independence, however a warden is on hand 24/7 should they be required, and all apartments are kitted out with emergency buttons and residents are given call buttons.

These types of accommodation can be bought or rented. Again, depending on the area, and the size of the sheltered accommodation, fees can start from £500 per week. However, for a larger house with more care services, the average weekly cost could be £1,000+ per week.

Also, because these facilities allow independent living, residents have to pay food and bills on top.

Residential care home costs

In residential care homes, residents have round the clock care cover. While each resident has their own bedroom, all meals, activities and personal care are included in the price.

Again, the cost of a residential care home will vary, but average care home fees are around £1,000+ per week. Be aware, residential care costs don't typically cover nursing or medical care costs.

5. Nursing home

Nursing care homes provide the same round the clock care as residential care homes, but they are staffed by healthcare professionals and have a qualified, registered nurse on every shift.

Care homes offering specialty medical assistance such as dementia homes typically charge more than residential care. This relates partially to the special staff required to serve residents 24/7. For more specialist care, expect to pay closer to £1,500+ per week.

6. Respite care fees

Respite care homes provide short periods of care cover for individuals who either need short term care, or for those whose primary caregivers need a break.

The average UK respite care costs between £600-£900 a week, although some can rise up to £1,500.

Who pays for the cost of care?

Given the price of care costs, you're probably wondering who is going to pay for elder care - the local council? Local authority? Self funded through equity release?

While there is local authority funding available, including direct payments, NHS continuing healthcare funding, NHS funded nursing care, Personal Independence Payment, and Attendance Allowance, your relative will need to undergo a financial assessment (a means test) to better understand their financial situation, in order to determine what financial support they're entitled to, if any.

In short though, if your relative has savings of £23,250 or less (this doesn't include the value of their home unless they're moving permanently into a care home), the cost of care will be covered either fully, or partly, by the local authorities.

If they have more than £23,250 in savings, they'll be expected to cover the cost of care themselves. 

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