What is the average cost of a care home for self-funders?
Care home fees across the UK for people paying for their own care are something of a postcode lottery. For example, on average, residential care in a nursing home in Greater London is 44% higher than for a nursing home in the North East.
With this in mind, we have built a cost of care and eligibility tool to enable you to find out the average cost of care for a self-funder in either a residential care home or a nursing home in any local authority in England. By answering a few simple questions, we will also tell you if you are likely to be supported by the local authority or not.
As yet, we have been not been able to include the average fees that a self-funder pays for a care home in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales in our tool, because the necessary data isn't available. However, the average fees for each country in the UK are shown below. These figures reflect fees charged for privately- and publicly-funded rooms in for-profit homes for older people and those with dementia (aged 65 and over). (Researched by LaingBuisson for its Care of Older People UK market report, 29th edition, published May 2018.)
The table below gives a breakdown of average care home costs for each part of the UK:
Cost of nursing
Cost of residential
It's important to note that because these figures include the fees that local authorities pay to care homes, fees paid by self-funders are going to be higher than the information we can provide here. For a more accurate picture in England, use the cost of care and eligibility checker.
How do care homes structure their fees?
In addition to where you live, the fee you pay also depends on whether your room is single or shared, as well as the level of your needs. For example, a care home is most likely to charge a higher fee for someone who has dementia as the level of care and support that person requires are higher than for a person without dementia.
Residential care home fees are consistently lower to match the lower level of care that is given.
If you’re thinking about choosing a care home, use our care services directory, where you can search for care homes across the UK.
Local authority-funded care
Fewer than half of people in a care home (an estimated 41%) are fully self-funded, so don’t assume that you’ll necessarily be paying all of your own fees. We explain when local authorities pay the fees for a care home and when the NHS might step in in paying for a care home.
Local authorities should pay a realistic amount that will provide you with the care you need, as outlined on your care plan. However, it stands to reason that they will be looking to do this in the most cost-effective way.
Councils have a standard rate (also called the 'usual cost') that they are usually prepared to pay for care. They will have different rates to cater for people needing different levels of care – for example, in a care home with personal care only, or in a care home with nursing.
If you’re arranging residential care for someone who has dementia, know that the local authority won't always pay more to a care home to cover their needs. This will have implications if you are arranging care for a loved one and considering paying a third-party top-up fee.
What happens if I move to a different part of the country?
If you’re assessed as being eligible for financial support, the social services department of your local authority should offer you a choice of care homes that will meet your care needs and accept residents funded by a local authority.
The amount of money that a local authority pays a care home varies widely across the country. It’s important to know that if you move to another part of the country, the fee you’re assessed as needing by your local authority will remain the same regardless of where you move to.
So if, say, you’re assessed by a local authority in the North East of England, where local authorities pay some of the lowest rates in the UK, and you move to be near a loved one in, say, London (the highest rates in the UK), you might find it difficult to find a care home that will accept such a low fee, unless you fit into any of the exceptions explained below. In this instance, you might have to consider a family member of friend taking on a third-party top-up fee.
We had a very stressful time because the fees down south were higher than what the council up north would pay. It looked like the family would have to top up the fees but a charity where my aunty used to work stepped in.
When might a local authority increase the fee they pay a care home?
There are a few circumstances when the local authority may increase the amount it’s prepared to pay.
These circumstances relate to your assessed needs, so it’s important to be aware of these when the needs assessment is being made. Some exceptions are if:
- you need to move to a more expensive area, to be nearer your family
- you have particular care needs that can only be accommodated in a more expensive care home; examples of this are specific cultural or religious needs or hearing or visual impairment
- the council can only offer one care home in the area that meets your needs and that home charges more than the fee the local authority is willing to pay
- you were a self-funder but have become local authority-funded and can’t be moved because of psychological needs, such as anxiety or depression, as well as physical frailty and issues around wellbeing.
Government funding might be available to help pay for a care home. We explain the means test and other rules.
Explore the options for paying for a care home: local authority funding, paying for yourself or NHS support.
We explain how you can pay for your care, what happens if your money runs out and getting financial advice.