How much does care at home cost?
The amount you pay for care at home will be affected by the level of care you need, the type of care provider you choose, and it may also vary depending on where you live in the UK. Most home care agencies will quote a standard hourly rate for domiciliary care services. Fees for live-in care are more commonly calculated on a weekly basis.
Each year the United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA), the professional association for home care providers, calculates the minimum rate that local authorities should pay when funding professional domiciliary care services. In 2020/21 the UKHCA recommends that local authorities across the UK pay a minimum price of £20.69 per hour for home care services. This is the minimum rate that allows home care agencies to comply with the National Living Wage and deliver financially sustainable services.
In 2020/21 the UKHCA recommends that local authorities pay a minimum price of £20.69 per hour for home care services
However, the UKHCA also suggests that councils should ideally pay a higher rate to meet the non-statutory UK, Scottish and London Living Wages, which include care workers’ travel expenses and the higher costs of office-based staff.
These recommended rates are:
- London: £25.11 per hour
- Elsewhere in the UK: £21.99 per hour
If you’re paying for care at home, you’re therefore likely to pay at least the minimum rate quoted above, and potentially higher.
Am I eligible for local authority support?
If you live in England, you can use our cost of care calculator to find out how much you’re likely to pay a home care agency in your area. We also tell you if your local authority is likely to contribute to the cost of your care or if you’ll be a self-funder. In both cases, we explain what your next steps should be to maximise on financial support.
For more information, wherever you live in the UK, read our article about local authority funding for home care. This covers the means-test thresholds, the different rules in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, and what to do if you don’t qualify for funding.
Watch out for extra costs
Research by Which? has revealed that the standard hourly rate for home care services does not always reflect the full cost that will appear on your bill.
When we surveyed over 360 people who have received home care or have helped to arrange it for a loved one, many respondents told us that they were surprised by the appearance of confusing charges or additional costs on their bill.
Some of the issues we heard about included:
- Extra charges for visits outside regular working hours, including early mornings, evenings, weekends and bank holidays.
- Unclear pricing: for example, some agencies may charge a higher rate for visits that are not rounded off to an hour.
- Cancellation fees when terminating the service.
- Penalties for a change of plans. Most agencies will specify a notice period if you wish to change or cancel visiting arrangements. However, some people told us that the notice period was difficult or impossible to meet. They ended up paying for unused care visits when their loved one was unexpectedly taken into hospital, for example.
Before signing up with a home care provider, ask them for detailed information about fees, additional charges, notice periods and other terms & conditions. Download our list of questions to ask a home care agency to help you cover all the key points.
Live-in care: what does it cost?
Live-in home care is an increasingly popular choice for people needing full-time care at home.
There are two common models for arranging live-in care and costs vary depending on which of these options you choose.
Introductory care services
Introductory care agencies act as a matching service and will introduce self-employed, private carers to the people who need them. Once an agreement to hire a carer has been reached, the carer is then paid directly by the client or their family, and all care arrangements can be made directly between the carer and their client.
With this arrangement, the carers are often self-employed and responsible for paying their own tax and NI contributions. However, if arranging care in this way it’s important to check whether you will take on the responsibilities of an employer.
Find out more about introductory care agencies.
Fully managed live-in service
The company providing the care employs and trains its carers directly. It will oversee and organise all aspects of care arrangements, from initial expert client and risk assessment and client-carer matching, through to comprehensive care plans. These providers are inspected by the care regulators.
The service you choose to work with will affect the price charged per week. Unlike hourly-paid domiciliary care agencies there is little difference in the fee depending on where you live in the UK. The level of care that’s required may significantly affect the cost of the service. However, as a general guideline, many live-in care providers charge between £800 and £1,200 per week.
Home care organisations have to be registered with the UK’s care regulators, who publish the findings from their quality inspections on their websites. You can use our care services directory to search for local domiciliary care providers, where we also give links to the inspection reports.
We explain the options for paying for care at home, from local authority support to paying for it yourself.
If you are eligible, government funding for home care may be available. We explain the means test and other rules.
Find out how personal budgets and direct payments give you greater control over the services you need for care at home.