What to Expect from a Care Home

Posted in: Wellbeing Last updated: 14 Oct 2014

A care home can actually offer not only security and support but also social events and new friends.  However, you need to be prepared when choosing a home and manage your expectations.

Your choices

There are a number of choices available to you as you get older and start to feel that living by yourself is no longer an option.

  • Family. While relying on your family might seem like the cheaper and easier option, not everyone wants to put their family under pressure. While families can offer excellent support and care, they cannot offer trained medical assistance.
  • Care worker. Getting a care worker to visit your home can be a great option, but is unlikely to be 24-hour care and can be costly.
  • Residential care. Care homes can offer both peace of mind for you and families along with 24-hour care by trained staff and the chance to socialise with people of a similar age.

The cost of a care home

While costs vary depending on where you live, the type of home you choose and level of care you need, a recent report [1] showed that the average care home fees across the UK are £728 per week for nursing care and £550 per week for residential care.
The state will pay towards your care home costs but the system is means tested. Here’s how it works:

  • For those with capital of less than £14,250, the local authority will pay for the cost of your care.
  • If your capital is between £14,250 and £23,250, the local authority will pay part of your care. For every £250 you have over £14,250, they will remove £1 a week from the money they contribute.
  • If your capital is over £23,250, then you will have to pay the full cost of your care. You will also have to pay if your weekly income is more than your care home fees.

Care Act

From April 2016, however, this will change as part of the new Care Act. A cap on care costs will provide protection from expensive care costs. It is intended that the cap will be £72,000 when it is introduced in April 2016.

Also, people with around £118,000 worth of assets (savings or property), or less will receive financial support if they need to go to a care home. The amount that the state will pay towards someone’s care and support costs will depend on what assets a person has [2].

Paying for a care home

There are a number of options available including applying for local-authority funding, NHS continuing healthcare funding, claiming benefits, long-term care insurance and releasing equity from your home.
To find out more about these, options, read our post on funding care costs.

What to look for

A Joseph Rowntree Foundation report says that older people in care homes liked good, safe transport and the health care services provided, as they promoted their independence [2].

Additionally, people welcomed having company and activities to keep their mind busy.

The best way to find out whether your potential care home provides these factors is to go and visit them and ask a few questions. Have a list prepared before you go of what you might want to know.

Try and take someone else with you as a second opinion can be valuable and they may spot something you miss. Also, the best people to ask about the home aren’t the people who run it but those who live there. Having a meal with the residents is a great way to get a feel for the standards of the home.

Every care home should offer you a brochure which will include a guide to charges and the services they cover, a list of optional services, number of places provided, arrangements that need to be made if private funding runs out, any rules and the complaints procedure.

It should also include an inspection report, statement of your rights and responsibilities and policies and procedures for managing risk and recording and reporting accidents and incidents.

What to ask about

Here are a few key questions that are worth asking:

  1. Do they offer the kind of care you want? You need to know what type of care you want – do you want trained nurses? Is dementia care important? How wheelchair accessible is it? Then there is the level of service from laundry and meals to transport services.
  2. Are they registered? Find out if they are registered and who owns them. Is it a private care home or a council run one? You might also want to ask whether their insurance cover loss or damage to your personal possessions.
  3. How much? What is your money paying for and will there be any additional extras? How do you pay?
  4. Do they have room? It’s no good finding the perfect spot only to be told that there’s no room at the inn. Also, what’s in the room? It’s worth finding out whether they have emergency call buttons, TV, telephone points, furniture etc. And also ask whether you will be able to keep the room or will you be made to change.

For a more in depth list of questions you might want to ask, Age UK has a great check list.

Top care homes

The 20 Care Home Awards 2014 have produced a list of the most recommended homes in the UK:

  1. The Willows Care Home Marton Moss, Blackpool
  2. Acorn Lodge, Bournemouth
  3. Foxley House, Glasgow
  4. Firstlings, Maldon
  5. Auden House, Manchester
  6. Mayflower Care Home, Swansea
  7. Springfield House Philadelphia, Houghton le Spring
  8. Jordanhill House, Glasgow
  9. Hope Residential Care, Blackpool
  10. Yew Tree Cottage, Chard
  11. Feng Shui House Care Home, Blackpool
  12. Brampton Lodge, Folkestone

Big step

This is a new stage in your life. And while it can be difficult for many people to accept the ageing process, a care home can be a great way to regain some freedom, make new friends and have the peace of mind that if you do have an accident or become ill you will be looked after quickly and professionally.

If you think it may be an option for you in your later years, now is the time to start planning the finances for it.


[1] Lang Buisson (2014) ” Care of older people UK market report (26th edition)” [online]. Available from www.laingbuisson.co.uk
[2] Gov.uk (6 June, 2014) “Care Act 2014 Part 1: factsheets” [online]. Available from www.gov.uk
[3] Joseph Rowntree Foundation (June, 2001) “Getting older people’s views on quality home care services” [online]. Available from http://www.jrf.org.uk/

Note: Whilst we take care to ensure Hub content is accurate at the time of publication, individual circumstances can differ so please don’t rely on it when making financial decisions. OneFamily do not provide advice so it may be worth speaking to an independent financial advisor about your own circumstances.