What is the cost of long-term care?

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So, just how much does care cost? If you’ve never had to think about the cost of care before, you will probably be surprised at just how much it can be. For example, did you know the typical cost of a care home in the UK is £30,000 per year? If you need nursing care you can easily add another £20,000 to that figure. All the more reason to consider financial advice to help you look at your options carefully.

Of course, the cost is determined by the level and kind of care you need or want. But did you know it can also be affected by where you live in the UK? It’s not surprising then that care home costs are often referred to as a postcode lottery.

What are the average costs of care?

You might imagine that care home fees would be fairly standard, but you’d be wrong. They can vary hugely across the UK. Indeed, it’s estimated that the average cost of care in a nursing home in the South East can be as much as 42% more than a similar one in the North East of the UK.

Examples of average residential care home fees in England in 2019-20 are shown below:

  • The average residential care cost was £35,412.[i]
  • The average cost of a care home with nursing care was £50,908.[i]

These figures reflect average fees charged for privately- and publicly funded rooms in for-profit homes for older people (65 and over) and those with dementia.

How do care home costs vary by region?

Care home fees are often described as a postcode lottery. So it’s important to find out about the likely costs you would pay. This will depend upon where you live or where you would prefer your care home to be situated.

For a more personalised illustration, Which? has a cost of care calculator which will give you a good idea of the costs of care home fees for your region and whether you would be eligible for funding from your local authority.

What are the costs for the different kinds of care?

As well as varying by region, the costs of long-term care are affected by the type and level of care you need or opt to have.

In-home care costs – of course, you may decide you’d rather carry on living in the comfortable and familiar surroundings of your own home and receive personal needs or nursing care there. This could range from having a care professional pop in for 30 minutes once or twice a day to help you with your personal care, right through to more intensive nursing care for two or three hours a day.

Light-touch domiciliary care
7 hours a week
Starting from around £7,000 a year
In-home nursing care
14 hours per week
Starting from around £14,000 a year
Round the clock care at home
168 hours per week
Starting from around £83,200 a year

Unless you’re eligible for local authority funding (see below) the typical cost for 14 hours of in-home care each week is around £14,000[ii] a year. This will vary depending on whether you need care during the day, at night or on weekdays or weekends. Round-the-clock care can cost around £83,200[iii] per year, so you may decide that a nursing home or care home would work out cheaper.

Here are some examples of how care home fees vary around the UK:

UK care home costs text says Scotland £769 Northern Ireland £551 Wales £640 and England £681 Source UK Care Home Fees 2018/19
Average weekly care home costs from which? [iiii]

What are the alternatives to self-funding care home fees?

Depending on the level of your assets there are alternatives to self-funding your care:

  • Local authority funding – if your assets amount to less than £23,250, most local authorities in the UK will provide financial support to help you pay for your care. You can ask your local authority for a care needs assessment which will look at the level of care you need and provide you with a care plan.
  • Free NHS continuing healthcare funding (CHC) – if you have a disability or a complex medical problem you may qualify for free financial support and funding from the NHS. You can ask your GP or health worker to arrange an assessment on your behalf.
  • Staying in your own home – continuing to live in your own home may sound like a cheaper option but it depends on the level of care you need. However, as shown above, the costs of in-home care can soon mount up so you need to consider which option would be best for your situation and finances.

If you receive money from your local authority to pay for your in-home care you cannot pay a family member for providing the care if they live in the same home as you. However, if a family member or someone else you know is providing you with care for more than 35 hours a week they may be eligible for a Carer’s Allowance, which is currently £67.25 a week.

You may also need expensive equipment and adaptations to your home to help your carers or to help you remain there – so it’s worth considering whether you may need to fund these.

What's next?

Find out how your health and finances can affect who pays for long-term care.

The information on this page was sourced between June - October 2020 and updated in April 2021. Information on this site does not constitute any form of advice, representation, or arrangement by us and you take full responsibility for making (or refraining from making) any specific investment or other decisions. You should take independent financial advice from an adviser who is registered by the Financial Conduct Authority.


[i] Source: LaingBuisson Care of Older People UK market report, published January 2021
[ii] Source: UKHCA estimate
[iii] Source: The live-in Care Hub 2016 report
[iiii] Source: https://www.which.co.uk/later-life-care/financing-care/care-home-finance/care-home-fees-akdbv8k3kwln
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At Yorkshire Building Society we created Our Money Movement because we could see how most of the information for people approaching retirement was overly complex and full of jargon and hidden charges. Our aim is simple. To provide plain, straight talking guidance to help you make informed decisions about your financial future.