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Alternatives to moving to a care home (part 2)

In the first instalment of this feature, we examined the problems which have beset some care homes and their clients, asking the question:  “Is there another option?”

There has to be another way and, in this case, there is.  However, it’s one which for many does not readily come to mind.

A full-time carer for their parents, living in their home, ready, willing and experienced at providing the level of care required, allows the parents to retain their dignity and their independence.  The days of considering a residential home as the only, and all too often – choice of last resort have gone.

But how is this option affordable?  Where do you turn to for help in finding the right carer? these are vital questions requiring pertinent and viable answers.

For some, there is the option of local authority financing.  Unfortunately, there seem to be major differences in the way in which local authorities apply the regulations about assets and financing.

But what about those whose finances and assets take them out of the assistance criteria?  How do the growing number of middle class elderly ensure the level of comfort and security they need while minimising the costs?

How do the costs stack up?  In London and the Home Counties, the cost of residential care can be up to £1,500 per week, an annual cost £78,000.

And these costs will continue and probably rise with each year a relative stays in residence.  If they are below the local authority threshold for assistance, then the cost or a percentage of it will be reclaimed from their estate, sometimes meaning selling their home or the local authority taking a charge on it and recovering the cost after the owner’s death.  There are residual savings levels which are protected, but they are often just a fraction of what the estate was worth at the outset, after perhaps 10 – 15 years of care home costs.

How can the ‘stay at home with live in care’ option be funded by your parents?

There are several means by which this can be achieved:

As Mrs Diana Graham, principal of The Graham Agency explains:  “Parents may be able to fund the cost out of their own resources, from either savings, pension or investment income, or a  life insurance payment.”

“Then there are options available from specialist insurance companies which can offer a care provision plan for a one-off payment providing a  monthly income.  Parents may consider taking out what is effectively a loan against the value of their home, while they continue to live in it.”

“Either way, your parents’ dream of being able to stay in their own home whilst having the security of live-in support can become a reality.”

Knowing the relative costs of residential care in London and the Home Counties, how does the cost of employing suitable live-in care staff compare?

““Against the substantial costs of residential care, we can provide a skilled carer with experience of meeting the needs of the elderly at an average cost of around £670 per week, an annual cost of £34,840. That is a difference of £43,160, per annum compared with an approximate annual residential care cost of £78,000.”

“These cost differences are huge and residential care eats into estates at an alarming rate, even for those with a sizable estate on which to rely.  Live-in care costs will also rise, but proportionately and will always be less than residential care.”

“But for those involved it is the emotional aspect of retained independence and the comfort and psychological security of remaining in one’s own home that is beyond price.”

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