Long-term-care services at a glance

No matter how independent you are now or want to be in the future, the time may come when you need to consider the long-term care services available to you.

Finding the long-term care that’s right for you

The first step is to ask your local council (or Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland) to carry out an assessment of your care needs to help decide on the best care and support for you.

Clearly the main considerations will centre around your own well-being and independence, for example do you need nursing care or help with day-to-day tasks? It will also look at the needs of the people who live with you.

But you’ll also need to consider other things, for example if you want to remain at home or feel you need to move to a care home. If the latter, consider where family and friends live, what hobbies and interests you have, and whether you have (or would like) pets.

Home care or domiciliary care

Given a choice, most of us would like to stay at home as we get older.

To help us do so, there’s a range of support services available, such as regular visits from a home care worker to help with personal care, shopping and preparing meals.

Other services could include ‘meals on wheels’, monitored personal alarms and household equipment or home adaptations to make everyday tasks easier.

There might also be local day centres where you can socialise and enjoy various activities, with transport made available to get you there.

Contact Age UKopens in new window to find out what’s available in your area.

Pros

  • You get to stay in your own home and keep all your belongings.
  • You’ll stay close to what’s familiar to you in your neighbourhood.
  • The value of your home isn’t taken into account when calculating how much you should pay for home care services.
  • You don’t need to adapt your home or receive care until you actually need it, so it’s a more cost-effective solution.
  • You retain full control over the care and support you receive, and can change things if you’re not happy.

Cons

  • If you have difficulty getting out and about, and don’t have friends or family visiting you, it can be lonely.
  • Despite alarm systems and regular visits from carers, you can still be at risk.
  • Home modifications and equipment can be unsightly and can affect the value of your property.
  • You might not like support workers coming into your home.

Sheltered housing and extra care

These are purpose-built homes that you can buy or rent from local authorities, housing associations or private companies. They’re designed to let you remain as independent as possible, while providing extra support if you need it.

You get your own front door but there is usually on-site support, such as a warden, communal facilities and alarm systems.

Sometimes the accommodation is available in retirement villages, which tend to be larger complexes offering more leisure and care services.

Alternatively, if you need different levels of care or plan to move into a care home at a later date, ‘extra care’ or ‘assisted living’ schemes are worth thinking about.

You’ll live independently in your own home, sometimes in the grounds of a care home, but will have nearby access to many services that help make your daily living easier.

Pros

  • You get to live independently in a smaller, and easier to manage, purpose-built home.
  • Your spouse or partner can move in too.
  • Friends and family can visit – depending on where it is, moving home might actually mean moving closer to family, clubs and faith organisations.
  • It’s secure with round-the-clock alarms and/or wardens.
  • Many homes allow pets.
  • You can take your own furniture and other belongings.
  • If you’re downsizing, you might be able to access some of your capital to make your finances easier.

Cons

  • You might miss the buzz of living among young families.
  • You might have to move away from things and people you know.
  • Moving to a smaller home might mean getting rid of some possessions.
  • You might have to sell the family home in order to buy or rent the new place.

Care homes

If your needs can’t be met at home or in supported housing, a care home might be the answer.

There are two types:

  • Care homes without nursing care that provide help and assistance with personal care
  • Care homes with nursing care that have registered nurses and experienced care assistants in constant attendance

Both are places where you can live (often with a spouse) and have your care needs met by trained staff.

Some also have accommodation and support especially designed for older people with dementia.

Pros

  • If you have extensive or complex care needs, trained staff are always on hand.
  • You’ll always have company – friends and family can visit too.
  • There will often be organised activities.
  • You won’t have to worry about utility bills, meals and household chores.
  • It’s safe and secure.
  • You’re free to come and go, provided it doesn’t put you at risk.

Cons

  • It can be expensive.
  • All your belongings will need to fit in one room.
  • You might feel that you’ve lost some or all of your independence.
  • Pets might not be allowed – although you can obviously check before moving in.
  • You might not enjoy the company of the other residents in the home.
Find out more information on Choosing the right care home

Intermediate care

This type of care is provided by the NHS. It’s often received in your own home but can also be received in a care home.

These short periods of intensive medical care might include at-home medical support from a GP, 24-hour rapid response team or hospital-at-home scheme, therapy and nursing care.

You might qualify for intermediate care if:

  • It’s limited to a maximum of six weeks.
  • The recommendation has come as a result of a needs assessment.
  • You would otherwise need extended and inappropriate in-patient care.
  • There’s a planned outcome that maximises your independence and well-being (typically that you can return home).
  • It involves cross-professional working (for example doctors, specialist nurses and physiotherapists working together as a team).

Pros

  • You’ll get the specialist intensive care you need, around the clock.
  • You might be able to receive care at home.
  • The care provided is free (and so is your accommodation if you go to hospital).

Cons

  • If you’re treated in hospital, you could be away from home for up to six weeks.

Respite care

Does your partner or carer need a short break from caring for you? Or perhaps you need to stay somewhere for a short while to recover from illness?

Going into respite care could be the answer, and some care homes allocate specific rooms for this purpose.

Each local authority will have its own policy for charging for respite care but the value of your home would not be taken into account.

Pros

  • You’re able to give the person who cares for you a break.
  • You might benefit from receiving the care if you are recovering from an illness.
  • You might enjoy the change of scenery and the company.

Cons

  • Depending on your circumstances, you might have to pay a lot for the accommodation.
  • You’ll be away from your home and familiar surroundings.

How much is it going to cost?

Top tip

24-hour live in care at home could cost from around £50,000 a year. In which case moving to a care home could be more cost effective.

The average cost of a care home place in the UK is about £30,000 a year, and £40,000 if nursing care is required the price is likely to be more if you live in the South East of England

Despite the housing price slump, the value of sheltered housing has held up well – not good news if you’re selling to buy. Some schemes are available to rent rather than buy. Even if you’re going down the care-at-home route, you’ll find that at approximately £17 an hour, two hours of daily care could amount to almost £12,500 a year.

Care services at a glance

Home care

State-funded? Yes

Self-funded? Yes

More information: Local authorities are likely to charge for services.

Sheltered and extra care housing

State-funded? Yes

Self-funded? Yes

More information: You might be entitled to Housing Benefit if you are renting.

Intermediate care

State-funded? Yes

Self-funded? No

More information: It’s usually restricted to six weeks.

Respite care

State-funded? Yes

Self-funded? Yes

More information: In some circumstances, you’ll need to pay.

Residential home

State-funded? Yes

Self-funded? Yes

More information: You might be self-funded, or part-funded by your local authority (or Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland).

Nursing home

State-funded? Yes

Self-funded? Yes

More information: You might be self-funded, or part-funded by your local authority (or Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland). You might be fully funded by or receive a contribution towards the nursing costs from the NHS (or HSC in Northern Ireland).

Hospital

State-funded? Yes

Self-funded? No

More information: Accommodation, nursing care and personal care costs are provided free.

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