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The cost of caring for a loved one


Jenni Allen

Which? Elderly Care

If your loved one or relative is struggling to live independently, even with the help of carers, friends or relations, it might be time to start thinking about the wider care options available.

It’s widely recognised that care homes are expensive. According to LaingBuisson’s annual market report, residential care homes cost on average £557 a week in England. If your relative requires fulltime medical care, a nursing home costs on average £730 a week in England. That’s an average annual cost of £29,000 to £37,960.

In an ideal world we would be able to sit down with our loved ones and plan ahead but unfortunately this isn’t always the case.

Jenny Allen, Which? Elderly Care

“Relatives often find themselves in a situation where long-term, costly decisions need to be made very quickly; while there is information out there it can be difficult to know where to start.”

Depending on their circumstances, your loved one may be eligible for financial support. Local authorities have a legal duty to carry out a ‘needs assessment’ of anyone that they think might be eligible for care. This care plan would set out recommendations, which could include personal, nursing or specialist care provisions.

However, it’s important to remember that funding isn’t a given. Your relative will need to be financially assessed, meaning their income, savings and assets will be scrutinised to decide how much, if anything, they receive.

Of the 401,000 people living in residential care homes in the UK, only 36% are fully local-authority funded. Aside from local-authority funding, your relative may be eligible for funding through NHS continuing healthcare or NHS-funded nursing care. You should be aware that only those with very specific care needs meet the criteria for funding. Recent figures revealed that 7% of the people living in residential care homes in the UK receive full NHS funding.

If you’ve explored all the funding options and drawn a blank, you’re not alone. Figures show that 44% of the people living in residential homes in the UK are fully self-funded, with 13% partially self-funded.

One of the benefits of self-funding is that it provides you with the opportunity to choose the care home that best fits the specific needs of your loved one – and usually from a broader range than what might be offered from your local authority. Your relative may still be entitled to other benefits and allowances like attendance allowance, personal independence payment and pension credit, so make sure they are claiming these where possible.

Jenni Allen from Which? Elderly Care said: “Relatives should consider the options available to them before deciding who to entrust with the care of their loved one. Choosing to place a relative in a care home can be difficult. That’s why Which? Elderly Care was set up; we provide independent, clear and up-to-date information to help people navigate their way through the maze of complex choices.”

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