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Care home fees to exceed private school costs

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Care home fees are about to hit an undesirable milestone, as the average cost of residency and nursing assistance rises above fees for attending the prestigious Eton College. This is due to a predicted 10% hike in care home fees, set to take place over the next 12 months.

Fees for Eton College – the institution that has produced 19 prime ministers – currently stand at just under £36,000. With the latest price increase, care home fees are set to top £40,000 in some areas.

However impossible such fees would be for most people, the increasing elderly demographic in our society means this is something we may all have to consider providing for in future. And, while private school only lasts for a set number of years, care provision needs to be in place for an undetermined amount of time. So what can you do to limit costs and get the best care provision?

What factors are driving care home fee rises?

Care home managers generally review their rates in either the new calendar year or new tax year. Two primary factors have led to this year’s higher-than-usual fee increases, these are:

  • The introduction of the national living wage from April
  • The new requirement for care home bosses to pay into pension schemes

A significant proportion of care home employees are set to see their pay packets increase with the introduction of the national living wage, pushing salaries up from a minimum of £6.70 to £7.20, in a move that some predict could cost the sector up to £1bn pa.

Are there any measures in place to mitigate fee increases?

No new measures have been put in place to mitigate for these circumstances, but if a person has combined capital and savings of less than £23,250 (including property unless lived in by a partner or certain relatives), then local authorities will contribute some or all of the costs towards care.

There has been a distinct correlation between the rise in fees and the number of complaints to the ombudsman and legal bodies. The care homes ombudsman has been taking a largely favourable view of formal complaints submitted. A 14% increase in the number of cases submitted between April – December 2015 resulted in the ombudsman finding in favour of residents in 65% of cases.

What are the other options for care provision?

Top quality care is a necessity for both health and wellbeing, and people are starting to look towards other models offering additional benefits for a comparative cost to that of care homes.

Live-in care has deservedly become the top choice for many. The alternative structure of live-in care providers such as The Good Care Group enables fees to usually rise only in line with inflation.

At a cost comparable to residential care homes, live-in-care clients receive huge added value. Unlike the care home structure, carers are on-hand 24/7 to provide one-to-one support and form real relationships with your loved ones. The model also enables clients to stay independent in their own homes, which many studies have shown to bring marked additional health benefits, such as delaying the onset or alleviating the symptoms of age-related illnesses including dementia, Parkinson’s disease and cardiovascular complaints, and massively reducing hospital admissions.

Fiona Lowry, our CEO, commented: “While fees are rising across the care home sector, The Good Care Group has managed to keep our care costs tied to inflation, at the same time as investing in innovative new research to keep our highly-trained carers at the forefront of their field. We’ve achieved notable results with our pro-active programmes for falls prevention and the reduction of hospital admission rates. Our services offer value not only in terms of financial cost, but also in the quality of care that your loved one can receive, and the enjoyment of life that they retain in their own homes, for longer.”

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