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How much does live-in care cost?

As experienced elderly live-in care providers, the team at The Live In Care Company has decided to shed some light on the costs of elderly live-in care. If you are considering live-in care for an elderly relative, but are unsure as to the costs or next steps, read on for more.

What is the average cost of a care home?

Care home fees vary depending on which region of the UK you live in. There are also differences in costs for nursing homes and residential care homes, with nursing homes providing registered nurses who offer 24/7 support and therefore they can be more expensive in some regions. Additionally, if your loved one requires a care home that is able to manage more complex needs, such as dementia, then costs may be higher.

Care home costs in the UK can also depend on your loved one’s financial assets, since local authorities help fund care for those who have assets below a certain threshold. This threshold is £23,250 in England but higher in other parts of the UK.

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In 2018-2019, average weekly care home fees £937 for nursing homes and £655 for residential care homes (Figures from LaingBuisson Care of Older People UK Market Report, 30th edition, 2019).

This calculator will help you estimate care costs based on your loved one’s circumstances. Read our guide to funding live in care for the elderly or check out our ultimate guide to elderly care for more information.

What is the average cost of a live-in carer for the elderly?

This depends very much on the level of care being provided. The costs of a live-in carer in 2018-2019 are on average £950 per week with this varying depending on your needs, what services are required and which provider you choose. If you need 24-hour live-in care then this can be as high as £2000 a week but if you require less intensive care then it may be as low as £650 per week. Domiciliary care, when the carer does not live-in the home, costs about £20-30 per hour, with costs increasing at weekends.

How often and why costs rise?

Costs for live-in home help for the elderly and care homes rise with inflation and Government legislation, such as increasing minimum wage costs. Whilst it is of course positive that carers are being paid a fair wage that reflects the challenges associated with caring, it can be difficult for funders to pay the necessary level of care for themselves or their loved ones. It is important to know whether your loved one might be eligible for funding support through either a financial assessment by the Local Council or the NHS Continuing Healthcare fund.

How are payments structured?

Costs of in-home carers for the elderly are structured based on the day of the week, time of day and type of care required.

Costs are lowest during the daytime (6am-10pm) for weekdays (Mon-Fri). This rises slightly for the hours of the night (10 pm-6am) and for weekends (Sat and Sun). The table below does not reflect actual costs but gives an example of how payments change depending on type of care, times of day and days of the week. This can depend also on where you live and the care agency you are using.

Costs for bank holidays are also likely to be more expensive. Read our detailed guide to live in care to learn more about funding live in care.

Help with funding graphic of elderly person with carer

Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible to receive support with funding from your local council. Paying for care at home or at a care home can be expensive for many. The local council will conduct a needs assessment and a financial assessment to determine whether you need care and whether you are eligible to receive help for the costs of the care.

Whether you are eligible will depend on your income and savings. If your income or savings is above £23,250 then you will be unlikely to receive support. There are exceptions based on healthcare needs and complex long-term health difficulties so you may still be eligible for support from the NHS, if these are your circumstances.

If the council does pay for some or all of your care, then they must give you a support plan. This explains what your needs are and how they will be met using the budget they have allowed for you. For homecare, usually, people choose to receive this budget as a direct payment each month because this then allows you to choose your own carer. For a care home, you can pick which care home you want to live in.

How to avoid paying fees

For domiciliary care, care agencies will naturally take a fee from you for their services. They help take away the stress of recruiting and managing a carer. Some people prefer to employ a carer directly as this can help them avoid paying agency fees, however, there are a few things to note if this is something you are interested in undertaking.

These are some of the steps you may need to consider when employing your own carer.

Firstly, you might think about writing a job description, highlighting the type of carer you are looking for and what they would be expected to carry out as part of their carer role. You can then advertise the job making sure that you cover points such as:

  • The type of work involved
  • Working hours
  • Rate of pay
  • Your own contact details
  • The area in which you live

Once you have applicants of sufficient quality, you can then interview potential candidates. It can be helpful to have prepared a list of questions in advance. Remember to also think about the personality of the potential carer and whether they will get on well with the person requiring care.

Once you select an applicant, you are responsible for checking they are suitable. It is advisable to do a background criminal check (DBS) and to also get two references from people they have cared for previously.

If you are employing a carer directly then you will also need to take on responsibilities as an employer. In terms of tax, you may be responsible for deducting tax and National Insurance from their wages and paying them to HM Revenue & Customs. You are also required to pay your carer at least the National Minimum Wage and to ensure that they are receiving appropriate working hours, time off, sick pay, and holiday pay.

As an employer, you must also take out various insurance policies such as employer’s liability insurance which will cover you if your carer has an injury whilst working for you. You can also take out public liability insurance which will cover injury your carer causes to anyone else whilst working for you.

Funding elderly care in the long term

Elderly care needs and situation may change in the long run so make sure that you get assessed for any benefits or funding that you may be eligible for if your circumstances do change. If you are not eligible for any support then it may be helpful to think about whether you want to remain in your own home or go to a residential care home.

If you have a partner then you may want to consider what the best option is together. Live-in care at home for couples is far cheaper than if you both were to move into a residential home.

If you need to receive care immediately then you may want to consider an immediate needs annuity. An immediate needs annuity is designed to cover the shortfall between your income and the cost of your care needed for the rest of your life. The cost of the plan is based on the amount of income you need and the assessment of how long you will likely need the care for. You will pay a lump sum of money upfront in exchange for care for life. However, you need to be aware that after you have paid this money, you are not able to ask for it back so you need to be sure that you require care for life. Most care plans will factor in inflation to help you cope when care costs rise.

Another way of paying for long-term care is to downsize your home. This can free up money that you can use to pay for your care. You may also consider renting your home if you move to a care home.

Equity release is another way of paying for long-term care. This is usually an option if you have paid off most of or all of your mortgage. Essentially, you are able to access some of the value of your home without having to sell it, so this can be a good option if you want to receive care at home. It is not a good option if you think you may need to move to a residential care home soon as you will be required to repay the loan in full.

There are different types of schemes and risks involved for all of these options, so it is recommended that you speak to a financial advisor to help you look at what options are best for you.

Cost-effective options

Unfortunately, if you don’t meet the threshold for support from the local council and you are not receiving other kinds of health benefits then there is no easy way to avoid paying for care costs. It can be tempting to try to reach a financial asset level where the council will pay for your care, such as ‘selling’ your property to a relative but this can be seen as deliberate deprivation of assets. This is an illegal act and your local council will be aware of people trying to do this. elderly person reading laptop with carer

The most cost-effective thing you can do when considering long-term care is to speak to a financial advisor who will look at your financial position and help you work out which option to pay for care is best for you. It is also important to get a proper assessment of care needs so that care can be appropriately planned for and this can be taken into account when considering your funding options.

It may seem that having a live-in carer for elderly people could be a costly commitment but in many cases, elderly live-in care can actually be more cost-effective than other options, especially if the care is required for couples living together. In most cases, one carer is able to meet the needs of two individuals in their own home.

If you are trying to save on live-in care services costs, then finding the balance between the right amount of care needed and the amount of care provided is crucial. You do not want to find that you are paying for too much unnecessary care but at the same time you want to ensure that your loved one is receiving appropriate levels of support. Needs can change overtime too, so it is important to regularly review the current care package and to get support with evaluating the level and input of care needed.

How we can help

Trying to find a suitable carer can be a stressful experience. At The Live in Care Company, we make the procedure of arranging live-in home help for the elderly as hassle-free and straightforward as possible. Our helpful team is on hand to answer any questions you have and they will take the time to help you understand your options fully before matching you with a wonderful live-in carer.

You may speak to us by calling 0118 449 2373, filling in an enquiry form on our website, or emailing

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