Can ‘at-home’ care be cheaper than a care home?
The soaring price of residential care for the elderly means that more families are opting to pay for their parents or relatives to be looked after in their own homes by personal home care services
Not only is the overall cost usually lower with this method, but by remaining in their own home, those needing care can sometimes qualify for greater financial contributions from their local authority.
The benefits of familiar surroundings and home cooked food to the client are other powerful factors.
The growing crisis around care funding and standards is also driving the trend: families want greater control over the quality of care and want to be spared the upheaval if residents have to move homes.
The funding system means that in almost all cases homeowners have to pay all of their fees if they go into a care home.
This is because anyone with assets of more than £23,250 does not qualify for funding help.
But for those opting for personal home care services in their own home, the value of the property is excluded from the means-testing process, so they can qualify for funding if their non-property assets are not above this threshold.
This can make at-home care an attractive prospect – although, where local authorities are contributing to the cost, choice of provider may be limited.
A person could qualify for help with their care if they are at home, but must start paying their fees once they enter a care home.
Why care is becoming cheaper at home
Britain’s creaking residential care home industry is facing a number of financial challenges, forcing homes to increase fees for those who pay them.
Residential care homes face the same costs as every household in terms of fuel and food bills and the costs of cleaning and maintenance. But they have additional difficulties in the form of rising wage bills and rents.
Some groups also have high borrowings.
However, one of the biggest factors driving up care home fees is the fact that those who pay their own way – because they failed the means-test – end up subsidising those who are paid for by local councils.