Cookies at Which? We use cookies to help improve our sites. If you continue, we'll assume that you're happy to accept our cookies. Find out more about cookies

On this page we give you a suggested list of questions to ask a care home surrounding their fees and additional costs to try to avoid unwanted hidden charges. We also explain about the necessity of checking and signing a contract.

Care home charges

  • What are the monthly/annual fees?
  • What does this include and exclude?
  • Are fees paid in advance or arrears?
  • How are they collected?
  • Is it necessary to pay an advance payment or deposit?
  • If relevant, how are NHS-funded nursing care payments accounted for in the fee structure?
  • How frequently are fees reviewed?
  • How much notice will be given for fee increases?
  • What happens if your relative is away, for example in hospital, for a period of time?

Potential additional costs

  • What additional costs are to be expected?
  • How are they calculated?
  • What are the charges for phone calls or broadband?
  • Would your relative be liable for their own TV licence (if they are under 75)?
  • Does the care home arrange visits to/from, for example, opticians, dentists, GPs, chiropodists?
  • How often do they come and what are the charges for this?
  • If services are provided externally, will staff accompany your relative on these visits?
  • What are the charges for various activities or outings?
  • Are the contents of your relative’s room covered by the care home insurance, or would they need to get their own policy?

Signing a contract

Once you have decided on a care home, a contract for terms and conditions will have to be signed. This is always between the care home and the funder.

  • If your relative is a self-funder, the contract will be between them and the care home.
  • If your relative is being paid for by the local authority, the contract will be between the care home and the local authority.
  • If you or someone else is paying a third-party top-up fee, there will be a contract between that person and the local authority in addition to the contract between the care home and the local authority.

The contract between a care home and a self-funder should cover such things as:

  • the care to be provided
  • the charges, including the notice period for any increase in price charges
  • and the terms and conditions of occupancy.

Ask to see a copy of this contract before you make your final decision. Read it very carefully and ask a solicitor to explain any clauses that you don’t understand. 

If your relative is responsible for paying part or all of their fees, you may be asked to act as a guarantor. This will also happen if you have power of attorney for your relative; the care home will discuss the arrangements with you for paying the fees.

More information

Page last reviewed: December 2016
Next review due: June 2018