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 the South East of England is 42% higher than for a nursing home in the North East.
With this in mind, we have built a cost of care and eligibility calculator 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 unable to include the average fees that a self-funder pays for care in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales in our calculator, because the necessary data isn’t available. However, the average fees for each country in the UK are shown below. These figures reflect average 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, 30th edition, published December 2019.)
Average care home fees across the UK
The table below gives a breakdown of average care home costs for each part of the UK (2018-19):
Cost of nursing
Cost of residential
More on these figures:
- These average figures are based on the amount that local authorities pay to care homes and the fees paid by self-funders. Self-funders typically pay more for a care home than a local authority will – over 30% more on average in 2018-19. Therefore, fees for self-funders will usually be higher then these averages.
- It’s not just a question of which country you live in. Fees vary from one district to another. For example, a care home in the South East of England averaged £783 a week in 2018-19 – the equivalent charge in the North West was £547. For a more precise picture in England, use the cost of care and eligibility checker.
- Care homes and nursing homes that provide specialist care for people with dementia generally charge higher fees than those who don’t provide that level of support.
How do care homes structure their fees?
In addition to where you live, the fee you pay also depends on 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 than nursing homes to match the lower level of care that is given.
Another factor that will affect the fee is whether the room is single or shared – although shared rooms are becoming far less common, with many providers offering mainly single rooms.
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 (around 45%) 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 (which has some of 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 paying a 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.
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.
Thinking about care in later life can feel overwhelming but we're here to help you make the best choices.