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Millions underestimating the true cost of care

Our research reveals an average care-home fee shortfall of £12,000 a year

It’s well known that care-home costs are high, but new Which? research reveals that more than half of the population seriously underestimate just how expensive they can be – on average, by the equivalent of £12,000 a year.

When we asked people to estimate the cost of a private nursing-home place in their region, 55% came up with a figure that fell short of the average cost.

One in ten even underestimated the true cost by a whopping £737 a week, or £39,000 a year, running the risk of serious financial problems in later life, or a lower likelihood of receiving good-quality care.

We’ve launched a simple and free online cost of care and eligibility checker, to help you and your loved ones easily calculate the likely cost of care in your area, as well as eligibility for local-authority support and funding options.

The cost of care homes in your area

See the table below to find out how much money private nursing in a care home costs across the UK, compared with how much people thought it would be – and what this difference amounts to over a year. For a more accurate estimate of the cost of care in your local authority, use our online checker.

Londoners have the most unrealistic expectations, underestimating the cost of a nursing-home place by an average of £540 a week – that’s £28,101 a year.

People in the East Midlands were the nearest to reality, with a £74 shortfall compared with the real figure. This still amounts of an annual shortfall of £3,848.

Which? Managing Director of Public Markets Alex Hayman said: ‘Many people are seriously underestimating the costs of care in later life, meaning they could struggle to find high-quality care for themselves or a loved one, or even face financial difficulties.

‘The care system can be confusing and daunting, and must often be navigated at a time of great stress for older people and their families. That’s why it’s vital that people have access to tools and resources to help them plan for the future.’

Which? Later Life Care

Which? conducted the survey on behalf of the Which? Later Life Care website, formerly Which? Elderly Care.

The website is more than just a tool for calculating the cost of care. It includes advice on:

There is also a dedicated section for family carers and their issues.

What happens when the money runs out?

Around one in ten older people with care needs now face care bills of more than £100,000 – and previous Which? research has shown that only one in ten adults aged 55 or over say they’ve put aside money to pay for care needs as they get older.

You can find out how long your savings and other assets might last by using the calculator that sits in our cost of care checker. Simply answer a few easy questions and the tool does the rest, showing you if you’re likely to be paying for your care, or eligible for local-authority support.

If you are a self-funder, you can calculate how long your money might last for, and what to do if it runs out.

Our research: Populus, on behalf of Which?, surveyed 2,074 UK adults between 16 and 17 May 2018. The data is weighted to be demographically representative of the population.

Figures were calculated by subtracting respondents’ estimations of private nursing-care costs per week from the the actual cost for their region, as per LaingBuisson data, and performing descriptive statistics on the difference, in England only.

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