Each year about 20,000 self-funding UK pensioners have to sell their homes to meet the ever-rising care home fees. Experts fear that this year annual costs may increase by over £4,000 in some cases and hit more than £45,000. This increase is partly due to local authorities cutting back on funding and is partly driven by rising energy costs and considerable pressure on wage bills. Here are a few important things pensioners should be aware of:
1. Eligibility for council funding
People who need a care home place and have less than £23,250 in assets (including their property) are entitled to some financial support from their local councils. Pensioners with capital between £23,250 and £14,250 are entitled to considerable council funding but will have to pay a weekly capital tariff of £1 for each £250 between these two figures. Individuals whose capital is below £14,250 can receive maximum financial support from their local authorities, while care home seekers with capital over £23,250 have to meet the full cost of care.
2. Types of care
Care homes without nursing care usually provide accommodation, meals and help with dressing and washing but residents are not entitled to any help from on-site nurses. If professional assistance is required, then a home with nursing care is the best option. Some homes may specialise in certain illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease. The difference in services determines the difference in fees charged; nursing care homes are usually 40% more expensive than residential homes. Besides, bills in some care homes may not cover phone calls, trips, treats, clothing, toiletries and personal items.
3. Location of care homes
Fees vary throughout the UK. England is the most expensive region to look for a care home in, with charges reaching £735 per week in 2011. The average weekly fee in London homes with nursing care increased by over 5% last year and hit £850 followed by Northern and Southern Home Counties. The same goes for residential care homes in these areas.
Read more about home care at Paying for Care