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Understanding the cost of care: How home care offers an affordable alternative to residential homes

Millions of people in England are underestimating nursing home costs, risking poor quality care and huge bills. Around one in 10 older people with care needs now faces care bills of more than £100,000, so says recent briefings[i] from The Health Foundation.

Experts at Ashridge Home Care, a care provider based in Buckinghamshire, say it is hugely important that everyone is aware of these rising costs and the corresponding funding issues as it affects both the elderly individuals and their families.

Trudi Scrivener, director at the firm, said: “With the cost of residential homes rising and a lack of funding options available, families are starting to look for other care alternatives that can help them in supporting their loved ones. Using a company like ours for care provision at home enables families to keep a greater control over not just the quality of care but costs as well.”

According to a survey[ii] carried out by consumer watchdog Which?, one in 10 people miscalculate the true cost of paying for a care home to the tune of £757 per week – the equivalent of £39,000 a year.

The current funding system means that in almost all cases, homeowners have to pay all of their fees if they go into a care home, because anyone with assets of more than £23,250 does not qualify for funding help. But for those staying 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. A person could qualify for assistance with their care needs if they are still at home but must start paying their fees once they enter a care home.

Ashridge home care can tailor services around the individual, whether it’s live-in, hourly, or specialist care. Such flexibility can be very useful if care is needed at short notice: for example, if a family member is leaving hospital or when another arrangement has fallen through. Undoubtedly, the live-in option also provides families with greater control over the quality of care their loved ones receive.

Carers working in residential homes are generally paid the minimum wage, whereas at-home carers are paid more, and the financial relationship between the carer and “client” – the person paying – can vary, depending on the firm involved and its model. Ashridge homecare employ the carer, thus managing the carer’s tax, national insurance and other requirements.

Ashridge’s customers pay between £21 and £24 an hour, which includes the cost of the carer’s travel expenses. This is for basic care, which could include help with meals, dressing and other household tasks. Where live-in care is involved, charges tend to be lower – at around £1000-£1400 a week – reflecting the benefits the carer enjoys with this arrangement.

Trudi continues: “The relationship and trust built with a live-in care provider can rarely be matched with any other type of service. This, combined with familiar surroundings, home-cooked food, and the fact that live-in care comes at a much better price compared to a single bed within a care home, means more people are turning to ‘live in care’ services than ever before.”

Moreover, live-in care can also be particularly cost effective for couples that both need assistance with day-to-day tasks but want to remain in a familiar environment together. Rather than paying for two beds in a residential care home, couples can pay for just one carer, significantly reducing the cost of care and allowing them to live comfortably together in their own home.

Ashridge Home Care is a family owned business with over 30 years’ experience in home care and dementia care services. For further details, please visit https://www.ashridgehomecare.co.uk/ or contact them, on 0333 250 2124 or email [email protected].

[i]Briefings from The Health Foundation – https://www.health.org.uk/news/key-facts-on-current-state-of-social-care

[ii]Survey carried out by Populus on behalf of Which – https://www.populus.co.uk/2018/08/future-care-needs-are-we-sitting-on-a-time-bomb/