As the population of the UK ages, how to care for this growing segment is becoming an important topic. According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the gross value of informal adult care in 2016 was £59.5 billion. Caring for your ageing parents, spouse, relative or friend, can be satisfying, but it can be hard and involve a lot of personal sacrifices.
Here at Helpd, we have taken a look at informal care and at how much people leaving work has cost the economy in lost taxes and what your options are for elderly care.
A report compiled by us has found that people quitting their jobs to care for an elderly or disabled loved one could be costing the public purse nearly £23 billion a year in lost taxes. According to the Carers UK and You Gov report, 2.6 million people had left work to care for a loved one by 2018. This figure is up 12% on the previous report in 2013. As a result, a potential £14 billion has been lost in national insurance contributions (from both employees and employers) and £8.8 billion in income tax in 2018.
The combined total of £22.9 billion of lost taxes is more than was spent on adult social care by the government in 2016/17. The amount spent on adult social care during that time was the £21.2 billion and spending has declined almost 10% since 2009/10. While funding for adult social care has fallen, the number of people leaving work to care for a relative has increased.
Dr Neil Parrett, the co-founder of Helpd, said:
“There is a need for flexible, affordable care so the relatives of those who need care can continue to work. These lost taxes could go some way to help pay for better and more affordable care for the elderly and disabled. By helping to better fund home care, which is usually cheaper than using care homes, the government can help not only those who are forced to leave their job but also help to combat loneliness and isolation for those receiving the care. Home care can also help to strengthen family and community ties, as the person needing care is not taken away from what they know.”
Home care Vs Care home cost
If a loved one needs care, there are generally three options to choose from:
- Looking for them yourself
- Home care
- Residential care
Caring for a loved one yourself
You may think that looking after a relative or loved one yourself may be the cheapest option, however, if you have to give up work, you might find it’s not cost-effective depending on your situation and what you earn. While you may get help from the government in the form of carers allowance and other benefits, the amount given is usually very little and it may be difficult to make ends meet. It is also worth taking into account how leaving work to care for a loved will affect your future career prospects.
Care homes and nursing homes
Residential care falls into two categories: care homes and nursing homes. According to a report compiled by the Laing & Buisson and supported by Age UK, Saga and Independent Age, the average cost of residential care is between £27,000-£39,000 a year and £35,000-£55,000 for a nursing home.
Paying for care home fees
Unfortunately, elderly social care is not free and how much you will have to pay will depend on your level of income and assets. Currently, if you have capital and/or income of over £23,250, you may have to pay for your care yourself. However, most people’s biggest asset is their house, and your home will not be included, if your partner, child or relative who is disabled or over the age 60 lives with you. Also, your property won’t be included if you’re arranging care and support at home.
Depending on your circumstances, you can get help with paying for residential care from your local council and, in some cases, the NHS.
Pros and cons for residential care
According to research conducted by One Poll in 2014, 97% of people don’t want to go into a care home and would prefer to have care in the home. Despite this figure, there are the over 400,000 people living in residential care homes across the country.
The pros and cons of residential care
There are many benefits to choosing residential care which include:
- – Trained staff are on hand 24/7
- – The taking of medication is supervised
- – There will always be company
- – Don’t have to worry about house maintenance, bills or food
However, there are also drawbacks. Many charities believe that the the trauma of moving people around when they are very old can affect their health, and those in residential care have an the average lifespan of 12-30 months. Other drawbacks include:
- – Quality of care can vary
- – You will have to downsize your belongings so they can all fit into one room
- – Feeling a loss of independence
- – Not be able to take a pet with you
- – You might not get on with the other residents
- – Family and friends can feel guilty – especially if the care home is far away from where they live
- – Care homes have strict rules that residents are expected to adhere to
Another issue to take into consideration is care home closure. Since 2014, the 400 care operators have collapsed, with 100 failing in 2018 alone. For residents, having to move to another care home can be quite traumatic and negatively affect health outcomes.
For a long time, care homes have been seen as the only option, with many believing that home care is out of their reach. However, in many cases, home care can be the more cost-effective option.
Home care is a growing part of the social care fabric, according to the Department of Health and Social Care, there are 3,600 more care home agencies in the UK since 2010. Typically, there are two types of agencies. Traditional agencies employ carers themselves and charge their clients a fee, which includes the cost of the carer. Generally, 50% of the fee a traditional agency charges will go to the carer and the other 50% will go to the agency. Other agencies like Helpd, are introductory agencies and allow clients to hire self-employed carers directly.
Home care covers a number of different types of care such as:
- the Visiting home care – this is where a carer will come and visit a client in their home and help them with personal care and maybe some housework.
- the Live-in care – this is when a carer will live in their client’s home and help with care around the clock
- the Domiciliary care – This type of care involves the carer visiting the client and providing personal care and other household tasks such as cooking and cleaning
- the Night care – typically night care falls into two categories; sleeping night care or waking night care
- Companionship care – is primarily emotional support and friendship for those who are generally healthy and who want to remain independent at home
Paying for home care
When it comes to paying for home care, one of the major benefits is that the value of your house is not taken into account when it comes into means-tested funding. Depending on the level of care you need, home care can be cheaper than residential care. While it’s unlikely you will get free home care, you may be eligible for some finical help. Depending on your circumstances, there are a number of home care funding options to look into such as:
- – Attendance Allowance
- – NHS continuing healthcare (CHC) funding
- – Local Authority funding
- – Charity backed funding
- – Insurance
For more information on paying for home care go to our the home care funding page, which is packed full of useful information that will help you navigate the somewhat confusing funding system.
The cost of home care, of course, depends on your needs and where you live. The figures below are based on care in the home from a self-employed carer:
- – On average, visiting care is £17.50 per hour
- – On average, live-in care is £125 per day
Pros and cons of home care
While most people want to stay in their homes when they need care, it is not always the right option for everyone. Here, we take a look at the pros and cons of home care.
The benefits of home care:
- – Staying in a familiar place – for some, especially for those suffering from dementia, find change difficult. Staying at home can help minimise the distress that can be caused by moving to a care home
- – Staying close to friends and family. Which care home you end up in can, to an extent, depend on the availability in your area. So, if availability is limited, you may end up in a care home that is further away from family than you’d like to be. This may also make it difficult for them to visit
- – Home care is typically cheaper than care homes, depending on your care needs
- – Care at home is designed around your needs and your routines. Support can be tailored to you and you can ask for more care if needed or less if not
- – Have more control over your care. As the care is designed around your needs, home care empowers you to have more say over the type of care that you have
- – Keep your pets. The vast majority of care homes do not allow residents to keep their pets. With home care, your pet can stay with you for as long as you want
Drawbacks of home care:
- – You may have to make alterations to your home. Depending on your needs you may need to make some alterations to the property that you are living in which may reduce the price of your home. This, of course, does cost money but it is possible to get financial help with certain changes.
- – Finding the right carer. This may be harder than it looks. Not only do you need to make sure they are experienced, qualified and have the right to work in the UK, but you need to get on with them and enjoy their company, especially if you are opting for companionship care. Helpd, is an introductory service and all our self-employed carers have been checked and vetted for your peace of mind.