How much does care at home cost?
The amount you pay for care at home (also known as ‘domiciliary care’) will depend on the level of care you need and the type of care provider you choose. It may also vary depending on where you live in the UK.
Most home care agencies will quote an hourly rate for domiciliary care services. Fees for live-in care are usually calculated on a weekly basis.
Each year the Homecare Association calculates the minimum rate that local authorities should pay to home care agencies for domiciliary care services.
In 2021-22 the Homecare Association recommends that local authorities should pay a minimum of £21.43 per hour when they are funding home care services. This is the minimum rate at which home care agencies can deliver a financially sustainable service and also comply with the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage.
£21.43 per hour
The minimum rate that local authorities should pay for home care, according the Homecare Association (2021-22)
But the Homecare Association also says that councils should ideally go beyond this minimum rate and pay a higher price to enable agencies to meet the non-statutory UK, Scottish and London Living Wages. These higher rates factor in extra agency costs, such as travel expenses and office costs.
The recommended higher rates for 2021-22 are:
- London: £25.70 per hour
- Elsewhere in the UK: £22.73 per hour
These rates are recommendations aimed at local authorities and are not fixed in law, but they give a useful indication of the kind of home care fees you can typically expect to be charged.
If you’re paying for your own care, an agency can charge whatever they believe to be a fair and competitive price. But you can expect to pay at least the minimum rate of £20+ per hour, and potentially more.
What price will I have to pay?
Few home care agencies publish a standard price list. Instead, they usually offer a personalised care package based on an individual’s needs. The fees they charge you will depend on a variety of factors.
If your main need is for companionship or help around the home, this may cost slightly less than a service that includes help with personal care or mobility issues. Likewise, clients needing help with dementia or complex medical problems may face higher fees.
Fees will also be affected by the times of day that you need support. For example, having a carer in your home during the night will cost more than visits during the day.
While it’s understandable that agencies want to offer a care package that’s tailored to your needs, this can make it difficult to shop around and compare prices between providers.
Read our article on choosing a care agency for tips on how to make a shortlist of suitable providers in your area. Once you have a shortlist of providers, be prepared to give them as much information as possible about your needs and circumstances, and the type of support you want to receive.
Getting a needs assessment from your local authority is a good first step in establishing this, but the care agency will often ask to visit you at home and carry out their own assessment before proposing a care package.
Am I eligible for local authority support?
To work out if your local authority is likely to contribute to the cost of your care, read our article on local authority funding for home care.
This covers the means-test thresholds and the different rules in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales – and what to do if you don’t qualify for funding.
Research by Which? has revealed that the hourly rate quoted by home care agencies does not always reflect the full cost that will appear on your bill. Our survey uncovered many examples of unexpected charges and confusing prices on home care bills.
Some of the issues we heard about included:
- Extra charges for visits outside regular working hours
- Higher rates for visits that are not rounded off to an hour
- Cancellation fees when terminating the service
- Penalties for changing your plans.
Read more about the hidden costs to be aware of and how to avoid them: The hidden costs of home care.
How much does 24 hour live-in care 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 approach you choose.
1. Introductory care services
Introductory care agencies act as a matching service and will introduce you to self-employed, private carers. 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.
Some introductory agencies will specify the rates that you should pay, in other cases you will be able to negotiate a fee directly with the carer(s).
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.
2. Fully managed live-in service
With this approach, the agency employs and trains the carers directly. It will oversee and organise all aspects of care arrangements, from client assessment and client-carer matching, through to comprehensive care plans. These providers are inspected by the care regulators.
The level of care that’s required will significantly affect the cost of the service. As a general guideline, many live-in care providers charge between £800 and £1,500 per week. A less expensive service may cover household tasks and personal care, for example.
A more expensive package will be required where the client has more complex care needs, such as help with medical conditions or regular support through the night.
Home care organisations have to be registered with the UK’s care regulators, who publish the findings from their quality inspections on their websites.
Read our guide to choosing a home care agency for more guidance on how to search for local domiciliary care providers.