The cost of a room in a care home, presently about £750 a week, will be £1,000 a week by 2020, experts warn. However, with Britain facing a nationwide care funding crisis, even that figure could soar.
A report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) last week found services for the elderly were nearing breaking point. The care watchdog warned of a wave of home closures if staff and funding gaps are not filled, adding that in the past six years 1,500 homes had closed.
The firms running care homes will try to plug the gap by raising fees, experts say. Valuing Care, a respected care fees analyst, predicts they will rise 8 per cent a year ‘for the next decade’.
That would mean the average fee reaching £1,020 a week by 2020, or £53,040 a year and that accounts only for a place in a residential care home. Fees for elderly people needing specialist medical care may be even higher than that.
Most people will have to pay this themselves as local authorities currently cover your care bills only if you have less than £23,250 in savings, investments, properties and other assets (£26,250 in Scotland and £24,000 in Wales).
That means nearly all homeowners will face large weekly bills and, once their cash has drained away, they may have to sell that home to cover the cost. The exception is where a spouse still lives in the property or if you put a charge on it. The latter simply means the care provider collects its fees after the resident dies and their relatives sell the property.
The Government had wanted to place a £72,000 cap this year on the total cost of care for the over-65s but the measure has been delayed until 2020 at least. Experts now fear that it may never come in and even if it does, the cap is likely to exclude board and lodging.
So even residents who have spent £72,000 on fees could continue to face bills for as much as £12,000 in England (the new rules would not apply to Scotland and Wales).Most people think a care home stay will be relatively short but the typical stay is eight years.
Ray Hart, director of Valuing Care, says: ‘If you’re staying somewhere for that long, the cost becomes incredibly important. ‘In some cases, people are running out of equity in their homes, so they turn to their pension and use it all purely on care home fees.
‘Then you could be left turning to the council, which may have to move you somewhere completely different that doesn’t give the quality of care you need. That can be very traumatic.’
Money Mail, in association with Bupa, has produced an essential guide to care funding and the crucial decisions families have to make about choosing what kind of support their loved ones will need and how to pay for it. It aims to help all families through every step of this ‘traumatic’ process. Last week’s CQC report raised fears of a repeat of the collapse of Southern Cross healthcare group, which went into administration in 2011.
Southern Cross ran 750 homes across the country and its collapse left 30,000 elderly residents urgently seeking somewhere else to go. Earlier this month, a care home in North Wales closed, leaving 21 elderly people with dementia with nowhere to live. Rosewood Healthcare Group, which ran the home, said it was no longer viable and was losing money.
That is why choosing the right type of care and home is so important. Our guide will take you through all the options and provide you and your family with the best tools and information. One option is to have care in your own home, instead of moving into a residence permanently.
A carer might charge between £15 and £20 an hour — so you could get around 40 hours of care for the same price as the average week in a care home. Care homes also allow people short stays of anything from a few hours to a few weeks. If your assets are more than £23,250, however, you will still have to pay for this type of care.
However, anyone in England with nursing needs — regardless of how they pay for them — can apply for the Registered Nursing Care Contribution of £156.25 a week to offset the costs. The rules are different in Scotland, where as much as £249 is available, and in Wales, where it is £140.90.
Those with severe needs can apply to have their entire care bill paid by the NHS, through so-called Continuing Healthcare. This figure is not means-tested but whether you can claim depends on the local health service’s assessment of your nursing needs.The definition of ‘severe’ is vague, but tends to mean that you need round-the-clock attention. If the health of a loved one declines significantly, you can have them reassessed.