Counting the costs: Home care vs residential care
The cost of future care is one of our biggest concerns about getting older: Do we have to sell our house to move into a care home? Will we have nothing left to pass onto our children? How much should we have to spend before hitting the new care cap?
It can be a bit overwhelming, so it pays to be organised and start planning early. One decision that you will need to make is whether you would prefer to have at-home care or residential care. There is quite a difference in cost between the options; residential care can cost a lot more, though it is worth bearing in mind that the cost includes round-the-clock care, as well as living costs (for food and lodging, which you would have to pay if you remained at home and does not count towards your care cap – the proposed flat rate for this is £230 a week).
Choosing to have home care means that you only pay for what you need. You will still have the associated living costs, but if you have your own home with no mortgage, for example, you may be able to spend significantly less than £230 a week on food and bills. You also might not need 24-hour care, so you only pay for what you need. You could, for example, hire a paid carer or contract with a self-employed carer/homecare agency to provide you with an hour’s care in the morning and another hour in the evening, if that is all the help that you need. These costs can therefore be much less than residential care, depending on your level of need.
Your local authority will assess you and your needs, and from this they will determine whether they can help fund your care package. This is likely if you have substantial needs. Funds are awarded based on your local authority’s set rate, so if you want care that costs more than that, you have to pay the difference. Also, any funding does not include your living costs, whether you are at home or in a residential setting, so you will need another way to pay for those.
The cost of care differs by council, so the rate that you will have to pay can be vastly different to someone else in a similar situation. London can easily cost up to £1,000 a week.
For example, Bournemouth Council’s weekly average rate for care is £494.80 for residential care (including £230 weekly living costs, at 2013-2014 prices) and £235.84 for care at home. (Figures via the BBC Care Calculator, see below for more information).
As you can see, care at home is a less, even when you take into account the living costs. There are other advantages to home care to consider: you remain in familiar surroundings, you can keep your independence, you have your own home comforts, and family and friends can visit whenever they like.
About the BBC Care Calculator
A new calculator by the BBC helps you think about your, or a loved one’s, potential care costs, based on where you live and your personal circumstances. You can input your postcode to find out the average weekly cost of residential or at-home care in your local authority, with guidance on the care system in your country. You can then enter information about assets, savings and weekly income to give an estimation of the sort of bill you might face before you reach the care cap and a breakdown of what these costs include. This is based on residential care costs (with living costs not contributing towards the cap), though an overview of home care costs is also provided.