Live-in care costs in the UK: A comprehensive guide

How much does live-in care cost in the UK? That’s not an easy question to answer because the cost of live-in care depends on multiple factors. Those influencing factors can include anything and everything from if your parent needs nursing attention, which care provider you choose, whether you employ the carer yourself and even where your parent lives.

After the bad publicity care homes received during the Covid pandemic many older people are apprehensive about even considering going into one. That’s understandable. Ageing in place, assisting the elderly to live at home longer, is becoming more and more popular now too. That’s great until they can truly no longer manage safely on their own or need round the clock nursing assistance.

You’ll need to consider the availability of carers in the area where your parent lives. Demand for live-in carers is on the increase due to the growing number of elderly in the population and the ever-rising cost of care and retirement homes. But what you also need to be aware of is that, in recent years, exacerbated by the the COVID-19 pandemic, care providers have been experiencing a recruitment crisis that appears to be never-ending so live-in care is not always easy to find.

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In this article you’ll find the information you need to help you decide if live-in care is an affordable choice for your parent or elderly relative and what help is available to support the cost of having a live-in carer.

What exactly is live-in care for the elderly?

There are different types of care people can receive in their home and it’s a good idea to fully understand the difference between them before you start looking for a carer for your parent or elderly relative.

Live-in home care – In this article we’re focusing on what is known as live-in care which is when a trained carer moves into a person’s home and resides there while providing the assistance they need.

Home care – May sound the same as live-in care, but it’s not. With home care a trained carer will visit a person in their home to assist with daily tasks a person is finding difficult. The carer doesn’t live in the home, but visits on a scheduled basis organised by the care company as per the needs of the individual person.

The average cost of live-in care for the elderly in the UK

Whatever type of live-in care you choose, it won’t come cheap. Even if you’re only considering organising live-in care because you yourself need a respite from caring for your parent, you’ll need to be prepared to spend quite a bit. Why? Most care providers don’t offer live-in care services for periods of less than a week so forget escaping for just a long weekend.

You’ll be able to get a general idea of the average cost of live-in care for the elderly in the UK here, but (and it’s a big but), what the actual cost for live-in care for your relative will be won’t be decided until a care company has completed an assessment of your parent’s needs.

All care assessments are done on an individual basis to ensure that each person receives the right care. The majority of companies don’t charge a fee for conducting an assessment. As long as it isn’t upsetting or too intrusive for your relative, it’s a good idea to get assessments from a couple of different companies and compare the fees they will charge.

Charges for live-in care can vary anywhere between £800 to £1,500 per week depending on the services provided by the carer. If specialist nursing care is required or you live in the London area, then charges can be as high as £2,000 a week or more.

If you do find a care company willing to provide live-in care for a period of less than a week, you can expect to pay between £120 and £200 per day depending on the level of care required. If you see an advert either on social media or sites like Gumtree offering low priced live-in care, avoid it as it likely won’t be being offered by a reputable company that’s registered with UK care regulators.

Other factors that affect the cost of live-in care

The level of care your elderly relative requires or where you live in the UK aren’t the only factors that influence the cost of live-in care. One of the main factors that will affect the cost of your live-in care will be which type of care company you choose to provide the care. There are two types of care companies and they are:

Care companies who employ live-in carers – This type of care company (or care provider) employ staff and allocate their work to them. They will have a team of professionally trained people onboard including care assessors and managers as well as carers who provide a variety of different levels of care. This type of company pays their carers for the work they do.

Introductory care agencies – While introductory care agencies conduct preliminary care assessments, they don’t employ live-in carers. Once the introductory agency knows what care is required, they introduce their clients to a self-employed live-in carer. While the introductory agency may advise on the rates you should pay the carer, not all do and you may be able negotiate with the carer personally to get a better price.

Some of the other factors that care companies take into consideration when calculating the cost of live-in care packages are:

  • If your parent or relative needs companionship only
  • What domestic chores they require help with
  • Will they need help with washing, dressing and bathing
  • Will they require personal care – such as assistance with changing incontinence pads
  • Will hoisting equipment be needed to help the person out of bed or during personal care
  • What nighttime support they will need
  • Whether your parent or relative has complicated medical conditions that will require specific care

Everyone’s care needs are different and so until an assessment is made no company can give you a specific price for live-in care.

How the cost of live-in care compares to a care home

The same as live-in care, the cost of care homes varies depending on where in the UK your parent lives and what type of care home it is. Nursing care homes where there is a registered nurse on duty twenty-four hours of the day cost more than a residential care home with non-medically trained staff. Average costs amount to:

  • Residential care home – £760 a week which equates to around £3290 per month
  • Nursing care home – £960 a week which equates to a monthly cost of £4160

When trying to decide between live-in care or a care home for your parent or elderly relative you need to keep in mind some of the extra costs that might be incurred with live-in care. They may seem minor but over time can add up to be quite substantial. You should take into account costs for:

  • The carer’s meals
  • Surcharges for weekend or bank holiday working if applicable
  • The hire or purchase of equipment that may be needed
  • National Insurance and tax payments if you’re hiring a carer privately
  • The cost of liability insurance
  • Agency fees if contracting carers through an introductory agency

How people pay for live-in care in the UK

When your elderly relative needs live-in care then the financial implications can be frightening. Fees for live-in care can become astronomical over long-term periods so it’s a good idea to get advice from an independent professional financial advisor before committing to anything. The Citizens Advice Bureau and AgeUK both offer financial advice for senior-related matters free of charge.

The majority of the time live-in care has to be personally funded. Help with paying for live-in care from the authorities is almost non-existent so most people need to either pay the fees from their pensions and life savings, sell their valuables if they have any or release equity from a property they own.

With the cost of live-in care being so high, as you can imagine, funding it for any length of time can add up to an expenditure of tens of thousands of pounds. And that’s on top of any regular household bills. The government is planning social care reforms that will eventually cap personal expenditure on care at £86,000, but that’s not something that is expected to come into effect now until 2025.

If paying for care leaves someone with personal assets of less than £23,250, they can approach their local council for help. The council then conducts an assessment called a means test to check out a person’s financial situation. While it’s unlikely that a council will fully fund live-in care, they may providepartial assistance in meeting the costs. This is paid out in the form of a personal budget, the money from which must be spent for care purposes and not regular household expenses.

Tips for finding affordable live-in care

There’s a lot to take into consideration when you’re thinking of getting your parent live-in care. It’s not something you should make a hasty decision about so keep the following in mind:

  • Compare the cost and services included in care packages from various agencies
  • Ask about different payment options the care providers might have
  • Get professional financial advice
  • Prepare a detailed budget so you know how long you and/or your parent can realistically fund live-in care for
  • Consider employing a carer privately so you can negotiate their fees
  • Talk to family, friends or neighbours who have experience of live-in care

Something else to consider

If your parent or elderly relative doesn’t need specialised nursing care, but is more in need of company and help with light domestic tasks, you might want to investigate home sharing. Companies like HomeShare UK and Helpful Housemates vet young people then match them with elderly people who need companionship and help around the home.

The young person is not a live-in carer, but someone who will pay rent for a room in the house and help with chores as well as provide company to their host. Because of the high cost of live-in care and rental properties, this type of home sharing is becoming increasingly popular in London and the southeast of the country and is definitely worth looking into if available where your parent lives. You may also want to research assisted living for the elderly as another alternative option.

In summary

While live-in care will mean your elderly relative can stay in their home longer, it’s a major expenditure that literally costs a fortune. Before you take the leap, be sure to compare agencies and get professional financial advice. It’ll pay you dividends in the end.

Common questions

  • What is included in live-in care services?

What’s included in a live-in care package very much depends on a person’s individual needs. It can be anything from help with getting up, bathing and dressing and personal care for toileting to domestic chores, assistance with shopping and even specialised nursing care.

  • How much does 24-hour live-in care cost in the UK?

The cost of live-in care in the UK varies depending on location and what’s included in a person’s care package, but you can expect fees to be in the region of £800 to £1,500 a week or, in some cases, £2,000 per week if nursing care is required.

  • How do I find a reputable live-in care agency in the UK?

You can find reputable live-in care providers and agencies on the Homecare Association website and the Live-in Care Hub or. For care providers, you should also check the Care Quality Commission (CQC) website for their rating (The CQC is the regulatory body responsible for overseeing and ensuring the quality and safety of health and social care services in the United Kingdom).

  • Is it cheaper to employ a live-in carer directly instead of via an agency?

It may be, but you need to keep in mind there will be additional expenses on top of the carer’s wage. As an employer you will need to pay tax and National Insurance.

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