Paying for residential care in a care home is expensive and, although there may be some help available to meet the cost, the care system can be complicated and difficult to find your way through.

You may qualify for financial help from your local authority/council, or, in some cases, from the NHS.

Will my local authority pay for my care home fees?

If you are eligible for funding support, your local authority could pay some or most of the fees. The authority will carry out a care needs assessment and, if this concludes you need care in a care home, they will carry out a financial assessment to work out whether you qualify for help with the cost. This will look at your income and how much capital you have.

Where do I start arranging care?

The first step to getting care, no matter what kind, is to get a care needs assessment from your local authority. This is completely free and everyone is entitled to one.

How much will I have to pay for care?

Care home fees do vary depending on the area that you live in, the individual care home itself, plus your own personal financial circumstances. Costs average around £600 a week for a care home place and over £800 a week for a place in a nursing home. If you are considering a modern high specification home, the fees could be much higher.

Your local authority must calculate the cost of your care and how much you have to contribute from your resources. This figure must be realistic and allow you to access an appropriate local care home.

You will be expected to pay towards the cost from all your eligible income, however you must be left with £24.90 per week. This is known as your Personal Expenses Allowance.

NHS continuing healthcare

Most people have to pay something towards the care they receive. But some people with ongoing significant health needs can get their care paid for through a scheme called NHS continuing healthcare.

What is NHS continuing healthcare?

If your needs are primarily health-based the NHS may contribute towards the cost of your care. If you’re eligible for NHS continuing healthcare, your care home placement will be free.

NHS continuing healthcare is a package of care for people who are assessed as having significant ongoing healthcare needs. It is arranged and funded by the NHS.

If you receive care in your own home the NHS covers the cost of the support you need from health professionals and the cost of personal care which can include help with washing and getting dressed.

If you receive NHS continuing healthcare in a care home the NHS pays your care home fees.

How could my finances and property affect my fees?

If your local authority carries out a care needs assessment and finds you need a care home place, they will do a means test. This may take into account the value of your property, if you own one, as well as your income and savings.

Your capital – What you will have to pay 

Here’s how the means test for social care will look at your capital (your savings and property) and how this will affect your care home fees.

Over £23,250 – You must pay full fees (known as self-funding).

Between £14,250 and £23,250 – The local authority will fund some of your care and you’ll contribute to the rest.

Less than £14,250 – This will be ignored and won’t be included in the means test – the local authority will pay for your care. However, they will still take your eligible income into account.

Certain types of income, such as money from certain disability benefits, may not be counted in the means test. This is the same for certain types of capital. All other income and capital can be taken into account.

Will I have to sell my home to pay for care?

Find out how your property will be valued and in what situations it may not have to be included in the means test.

The next steps

These are some of the factors you need to consider and take steps to action as part of the process of accessing care.

As specialists in supporting people looking for care, Care Home Finder can help to guide you through the maze and, once you have decided on the most appropriate type of care, we can also help you find the right care. For a free initial chat, without any obligation, please call us on 0345 853 0300.