Cost of Care – The Complete Guide to Paying and Funding Your Care

Everyone wants to remain at home as they grow, hopefully, gracefully old. As long as this is medically advisable, there is no reason you or your loved one shouldn’t be able to. Budgeting for and financing the costs of home care can be challenging and one of the biggest concerns people have when considering a private carer is how much home care costs. The cost of care, along with some of the risks that getting care entails, can be off-putting to many. However, it doesn’t have to be – in-home or domiciliary care can offer a practical and sustainable middle ground between no care and a care home.

Chapter 1: Home care – the basic costs

The average cost of private care is £15/hour. The price of home care can, however, depend on a huge range of variables. Such as type of care, the care that is needed, and the company/private carer you are working with.

To find out the cost of hourly care near you, check out our Cost of Care Calculator: https://primecarers.co.uk/calculator If you are looking for more on live-in carers then continue through this guide.

Hourly Care

Hourly care involves your loved one receiving home visits from a professional carer.

This means your loved one’s way of life does not need to change significantly. They can continue to live independently, without having to depend on family support, by receiving occasional visits from a professional Carer.

If their needs are limited, a daily check-in may be enough, along with a bit of housekeeping and help with things like medication reminders and shopping. If they have a particular medical requirement, they’ll likely need more frequent and regular visits. This could be to administer medicine, change dressings, perform medical procedures, help with physio, managing meal plans, and so on. These caregivers can also help with personal care, including washing, dressing and feeding.

Hourly Cost of Care

The cost of Hourly care can vary greatly. From as low at £12 per hour to as much as £30 per hour. This huge gap is largely due to how you find your carers. The amount of organisation and management you do yourself as well as the risk you take on and the complexity of the patient’s needs, can all impact the price you pay.

It breaks down as follows:

Agency carers: This is as close as you can get to handing the problem over to someone else to deal with. They will find safe and reliable carers for you and will organise it all on your behalf. You don’t get much choice over what care is delivered or who delivers it, as the agency makes these decisions for you. However, there is a cost associated with this, as they do charge for this service.

Cost: £20per hour – £25per hour.

Independent carers: This is as Heath Robinson as you can get, you find the carers, vet them, manage them and their time with you or your loved ones. They may not be good, they may not be safe and if they get sick or need a holiday, you will have to replace them. However, this is the cheapest option.

Cost: £12per hour – £18per hour

Platforms carers: Platforms offer a middle ground. They find and vet the carers for you, you can choose your carer and directly control what carer is delivered and how. On top of that, the good ones handle all the contracting, payment, insurance and other admin duties, whilst giving you the tools to book in and work with the carer directly. They can also help you find replacement carers and cover, taking a huge load off your mind. Most have a direct line into the office, which you can call to sort out any issues.

Cost: £14per hour – 18per hour

When you should take on the cost of hourly care

Hourly care becomes a financially viable option when:

  • The family cannot commit to the amount or regularity of the visits needed
  • When the family lives too far away or too great a burden would be placed on the family still living locally
  • Those family members delivering care need to spend more time at work and/or with their children.
  • The patient’s needs exceed the level of care a family member can provide
  • It a little distance is needed between members of the family and the patient
  • To give the patient more of a sense of independence, which can be eroded by relying on family members  

Live-In Care

With live-in care, a professional caregiver moves into the house and provides round-the-clock support. You can check out our full live-in care guide here.

There’s no need to uproot, you just need to be able to accommodate a new tenant. Your loved one can stay close to friends, family and the structure of support they’ve built up, all without compromising their independence. You, meanwhile, have the flexibility to visit when you can, knowing there’s always someone around when you’re not there.

The caregiver is a qualified professional. They have experience in administering medical requirements and supporting physical and behavioural issues, with the added bonus of offering constant companionship to those most important to you.

When considering Live-in care, you will have to look at getting multiple carers (at least two). This is to give your carers a break. Every couple of months/ couple of weeks or even more regularly than that the carer will need to take a long, much-needed, break. The number of weeks before the carers switch will be agreed between you and your chosen carers to make sure everyone is happy.

Live-In Cost of Care

The cost of live-in care vary less wildly than hourly care, however, there are still some variations with the cost being as little as £750pw (per week) to as much as £1300pw. The variation is due to the source of the live-in carers and the complexity of the care required. There is also the potential need for night-time cover, which adds another layer of cost, discussed in the below section on night care.

Agency care: They will find and supply a carer, and will ensure that there is always a carer in the house. Whilst you have little choice over the carer they supply, and limited control over how the care is delivered, you can relax, knowing that it is all being managed for you. There is a cost to this service though.

Cost: £840per week – £1300per week

Independent carers: Usually found through a friend or in the classified ads of the Lady or the internet at large, you are responsible for finding and selecting the person you want to care for your loved one. You should also run the required background check, ensure the contract is in order and make sure that the care that is being delivered is what you would hope for your loved one. This level of control can be great and may be right for you. This is also the cheapest option:

Cost: £700per week – £1,200per week

Platform carers: Platforms do the checking and the interviewing for you, leaving you with the decision of who you want caring for your loved one, happy in the knowledge that the carer is safe to work with and great at what they do. The good platforms will also ensure the relationship, and find your carers as and when you require them, alongside helping you to manage them if required. This does raise the base cost level, however, because they are able to find the care roles, quickly, the carer doesn’t have to overcharge you to pay for their down-time between clients.

Cost: £770per week – £1,050per week

When you should take on the cost of a Live-in carer

Live-in care becomes a financially viable option when:

  • The family cannot deliver the care required
  • The family lives too far away to deliver the care required
  • The patient’s needs are so high that hourly care has become too expensive
  • The patient needs someone there around the clock, despite sleeping relatively well
  • The house cannot be sold or rented to help pay for a care home
  • The care home is not good enough for the price you are willing to pay
  • When moving the patient may cause more psychological harm than it is worth

Night Care

Night care is when a carer comes and stays with your loved one overnight. This may be sleeping or largely waking, dependent on the needs of the patient.

A lot of people struggle to sleep through the night. This is made especially acute when your loved one finds it difficult or impossible to move on their own, or cannot go on their own due to illness. This is where night-carers come in. Just by being there, they relieve sleep anxiety, whilst also being on hand to help your loved one out of bed or to make them more comfortable 

When considering getting a night carer, you should look at how often your loved one needs to get up and the level of help they need, as well as what sort of person you would want to be there when your loved one wakes up or cannot sleep.

Night Cost of Care

The cost of night care varies from £120p/n (per night) to £200+p/n. This is due to the varying needs of patients in the highly stressful circumstance of not being able to sleep. In addition, night carer occurs at unsociable hours.

Agency Night Carers: The agency will find a carer to come in and take care of you or your loved one, and they will ensure that someone is always available to come in. Whilst you may not be able to choose the carer or control the care that they provide, the advantage is the issue is taken off your hands.

Cost: £140 – £300per night

Independent carers: Usually found via your friends or network or from a classified ads section, you get to choose them and control the care that is delivered. However, finding them, vetting them and managing their schedule can be time-consuming. This is the cheapest option though:

£120 – £200per night

Platform Carers: With platforms, you can choose your night carer and make sure that the care they deliver is what you want. The platform makes sure that they are good and safe to work with, and the best ones handle all the admin for you.

Cost: £130 – £220per night

When you should take on the cost of a Night carer

Night carers become a financially viable option when

  • The patient cannot be alone at night
  • When the family needs to sleep for their own mental health and ability to work the next day
  • When the combined cost of night carers and day time care requirements remains lower than the cost of a care home

Chapter 2: Getting Help – Funding Your Care

Drawing on friends, family and neighbours

Setting up a simple rota to share caring tasks with family members, friends and neighbours can really help to improve the level of care you can offer. Share out tasks like shopping trips, phone calls, visits, trips to the doctors, cleaning and washing to make your workload more manageable. Taking this approach will mean that the person you’re caring for isn’t isolated, and you will find others surprisingly keen to help you. All the repayment they need is gratitude and the odd bottle of wine (or another appropriate gesture).

Caring for someone will probably always be on your mind, so it’s easy to get burnt out. The best way to avoid that situation is to pay close attention to your mental and physical health and to take steps to relax. 

Find an activity that helps you to clear your mind and recharge your batteries. Mindful activities like yoga, knitting or drawing can really help you to relax, even just going for a walk can do you the world of good. Of course, the most important way to look after your mental and physical health is to recognise when you are really struggling and to ask others for help. Never be afraid to ask others for help or to speak about your feelings, thoughts or fears to other people. 

Financial support from the government

Whether you’ve already settled on the kind of care that fits your family best, or are still trying to come to a decision, now is the perfect time to start thinking about government funding initiatives you may be able to take advantage of.

There’s a number of ways the government can help your family with the costs of care, and these initiatives could eventually make your life a lot easier. The biggest problem of these fundings, is you have to jump through a lot of hoops to get there.

To qualify, the patient must have available assets of less than £23,250, excluding the value of the property in which they live, so do take that into account before you apply. However, you are always entitled to a needs assessment so apply anyway as that is worth getting, whatever the case.

While we can’t do the applications for you. We can take you through the steps involved and make the journey a little bit easier for you, so drop us a line and we will do our best to help you out.

Different ways the government can help

  • Local authority funding
  • Direct payments
  • NHS continuing healthcare
  • NHS-funded nursing care
  • Benefits for care recipients

Local authority funding

In some cases, your loved one may be able to receive partial funding from their local council.

They need to speak directly to social services in their area and complete a care needs assessment to find out if they’re eligible. It’s worth highlighting that if you live in England or Northern Ireland and have assets of greater than £23,250, you’re automatically discounted. This figure differs for Wales (£24,000 for care at home, £30,000 for care in a home) and Scotland (£26,500).

The care needs assessment helps the local authority gain a better insight into the extent of care required, as well as a broader understanding of your loved one’s specific needs. The person in need of care can do it themselves over the phone or in person, or you can do it on their behalf. In either case, you’ll need to provide the care recipients:

  • Address
  • Date of birth
  • Contact details
  • GP’s address

At some point, they also need to complete a means test. This is essentially an appraisal of their financial circumstances, to establish what you need to contribute towards the total cost of care.

Your point of contact then comes back to you with their decision as to whether you’re eligible for funding, and, if so, a recommended care plan. Once agreed, it’s put into writing. The overall process can take two or three months from start to finish.

Direct payments

Direct payments – also known as a personal budget – are government contributions the care recipient can use to independently arrange their care.

Like local authority funding, your loved one will receive ongoing financial support. But rather than having to construct a care plan with another party, they can use this money however they see fit. This gives your family more choice, control and flexibility over how you meet their care needs.

The amount of money in your personal budget is decided by your local council after a needs assessment to work out:

  • what kind of care and support you need
  • how much it will cost
  • how much you’re able to afford yourself
Choosing how to receive your personal budget

You can ask the council to either:

  • Manage your personal budget for you
  • Pay the money to another organisation, such as a care provider
  • Pay the money directly to you or someone you choose

You can also choose a combination of these options. For example, the council could arrange some of your care but send you the rest of the money. This is often called a mixed package.

If the council manages your money

The council will spend the money in your personal budget for you. They will arrange all your care and support based on your agreed care plan.

They still need to check you’re happy with the care they’re arranging for you.

If your money is paid to another organisation

The organisation you choose, such as your care provider, will speak to and arrange the payments with the council.

Sometimes organisations may charge you extra money to arrange payments from the council.

If the money is paid directly to you

Direct payments give you more flexibility over how your support and care is arranged and provided.

For example, you could choose to hire care workers or personal assistants who:

  • Are always the same people and available when you need them
  • Speak the same language as you
  • Have experience working with your care needs
  • Can help you get to shops or social events

There are many ways you could choose to use the money. The choice is yours. As long as you’re spending your personal budget on things that meet your agreed care plan.

Most councils will ask for evidence of how you’ve spent your money every 3 months. There is also a chance that they can give you no choice as to what your budget should be spent on. For example, if you require 24-hour care, it is unlikely that the council will offer you a direct payment. Instead they may insist on moving to a care home.

To find out whether you’re eligible for direct payments, you need to get in touch with your local council and complete the same funding assessment as above. Remember that your eligibility is once again affected by the value of assets.

NHS continuing healthcare

NHS continuing healthcare is a care plan which includes full financing for any services that take place outside the hospital.

To find out if your relative is eligible, they need to visit their GP, who will complete an initial checklist and refer the case directly. They are then invited to take part in a full assessment with a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals.

This group reflects on a whole range of needs – including behavioural, cognitive, physical and nutritional – and assesses which of them, if any, are priority concerns. They look into the complexity and severity of these requirements, and how predictable they are moving forward.

You’ll have a decision within a month about whether or not your loved one will receive these sources of funding for care. If they do, your family then works collaboratively with a professional to create a bespoke care and support package.

NHS-funded nursing care

The NHS may pay a weekly rate for a registered nurse to visit your relative in their care home. This is known as NHS-funded nursing care.

The assessment process is the same as for NHS continuing healthcare – ie via a GP and then a panel of experts – as you’ll only be offered this option if your loved one has failed to qualify for the former. It’s also exclusively for those who live in care homes, since the care will be provided by nurses employed by the residence.

If the care recipient is eligible, the NHS will arrange and fund nursing on their behalf. This covers a whole range of nursing services, including planning, supervising and monitoring healthcare tasks, as well as one-on-one care.

Benefits for care recipients

Personal Independence Payment, also known as PIP, goes towards the costs of long-term health conditions and disability for those below the age of 65. It is similar to the Disability Living Allowance, which is being phased out in favour of PIP.

PIP is made up of two components, and each of these is paid at a standard or an enhanced rate.

  • Standard weekly rate for daily living component – £57.30
  • Standard weekly rate for mobility component – £22.65
  • Enhanced weekly rate for daily living component – £85.60
  • Enhanced weekly rate for mobility component – £59.75

To claim PIP, you’ll need to get in touch with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The assessment test is based on the support they require rather than on their financial circumstances.

After a routine medical assessment, your relative will find out if they’re eligible to receive PIP, and what component they fall into.

Attendance allowance helps cover the costs of care for those aged 65 and over. Like PIP, it is tested based on the support they require.

Attendance allowance is specifically designed for those who need help with everyday activities, getting around and medical care. There are two rates available:

  • If you need help both day and night, you’ll receive the higher rate of £83.10 a week
  • If help is needed throughout the day, you’ll receive the lower rate of £55.65 a week

To claim Attendance Allowance, you’ll need to fill in a claim form and fire it over to the DWP. They’ll then get back to you to discuss the care recipient further and to confirm their eligibility.

Chapter 3: Self-funding care 

It's often possible to self-fund care while remaining in your home and there are various ways to do this.

Paying for Care – Will I Need To Sell My Home?

You shouldn’t have to sell your house if you need to pay for care in your home.

You may have to if you move into a care home unless your partner still lives there – although there may be other options to help you avoid selling your house. These include renting rooms in your home out and deferred payment schemes, where the council can pay for your care and you pay it back if you choose to sell your home, or after your death.

You could also look at an equity release. This is available for anyone over 55 and allows you to use money that’s tied up in your home. You will have to pay interest on this though, so make sure you do plenty of research through services like the Money Advice Service first.

What happens if I run out of savings?

If you have savings above £23,250 but this drops, you can apply for the council’s payment scheme. This ensures that you are able to continue paying your care.

If you think your savings might end up going below £23,250, then ring the council. We advise that you do this three months beforehand to arrange for coverage in good time.

Free help with care

You can get NHS healthcare at any time, like NHS-funded nursing, regardless of how much you have in savings or if you’re paying for care.

You might also be able to get some small house alterations for free if they cost less than £1,000. This gives you access to things like handrails for the stairs or grab rails in your bathroom.

To see if you could receive this, you can apply for equipment via the government website.

There are also other local voluntary organisations and some that run nationally. It is certainly worth calling or visiting your local AgeUK branch or calling CarersUK for advice.

Chapter 4: Looking after your loved one’s finances

If your loved one is struggling to make decisions on care then seeking power of attorney can be a solution.

What is a power of attorney?

Power of attorney grants someone the right to make decisions about someone else’s money on their behalf.

There are two types: ordinary powers of attorney and lasting powers of attorney.

Ordinary powers of attorney

A donor temporarily confers financial authority upon someone they trust (an ‘attorney’). This means, for example, they give another person control over their finances while they’re sequestered in hospital, or if they’re physically unable to visit a bank. They can also define which assets – property, savings and so on – this attorney has a say over.

In short, it’s an option for those who require assistance from time to time but are still mentally capable of making decisions.

Lasting powers of attorney

A donor gives someone they trust the right to manage their financial affairs on an indefinite basis.

Unlike an ordinary power of attorney, lasting power of attorney (LPA) is still valid even if your loved one’s mental health declines. This means someone will step in when the donor is unable to sufficiently grasp the potential consequences of a decision they need to make. Those diagnosed with dementia often decide to pursue this option.

Just as in the case of ordinary powers of attorney, however, an LPA is valid only as far as the donor is willing to permit.

This may extend to:

  • Paying off a mortgage
  • Maintaining a property
  • Selling a home
  • Cashing out investments
  • Managing pensions and benefits

How to set up powers of attorney

To set up a power of attorney, ordinary or lasting, you’ll first need to register with the Office of the Public Guardian. This usually costs between £65 and £115. This fee may be waived if you’re on a low income or receiving certain benefits. For more information, AgeUK has produced a comprehensive guide on how powers of attorney work.

Before you register, we recommend seeking advice from a solicitor. There are multiple independent sources providing good advice on how to find one.

Author: James

I founded and manage PrimeCarers, a Platform that connects Private Clients with Private Carers near them.