Your guide to care and support

Self-funding: paying for your own care and support

If you have more than £23,250 in savings (not including the value of your home or your pension), you may have to pay the full cost of your care. This is known as being a self-funder.

The number of people paying for their own care is growing. While some people are eligible for funding from their council, many end up paying for all of their care.

Arranging your care as a self funder

If you're paying for your own care, you do not need to have a needs assessment first - you can go directly to a homecare agency or care home and organise it yourself without involving social services.

But, it's a good idea to have a needs assessment before arranging your care. This is because you will then have a clear idea of what your care needs are. You will know, for example, whether you need a professional carer to come in for 2 hours a day or 2 hours a week - and what specifically they should help you with.

Ask for a copy of your needs assessment, so you have a record of your assessed needs.

Request a needs assessment from your local council's social services department.

Find your local council.

Once you know what your care needs are you can either:

  • organise your care package yourself or
  • ask social services to commission and arrange it on your behalf (this option depends on where you live, some councils do not offer this service)

How much will care cost?

Care is expensive and the bills can mount up. Knowing how much you'll pay and how costs might change will make things less stressful.

Homecare

Homecare is where a professional carer comes to your home, for example for a couple of hours a day, to help you with tasks like getting washed and dressed, and household chores like preparing meals, cleaning and gardening.

The recommended hourly rate is around £17.00, but this will vary according to where you live.

Live-in homecare costs from around £650 a week. It can cost as much as £1,600 a week if you have complex needs.

Read how to arrange home care.

Care homes

There are 2 types of care home. A residential home offers only personal care. A nursing home offers nursing care as well as personal care.

  • a room in a residential home costs around £600 a week

  • a room in a nursing home costs around £840 a week

These prices will vary according to where you live and the type of care you need. For example, serious medical conditions like dementia can increase the cost.

Read more about moving into a care home.

Will I have to sell my home?

  • no, you won't have to sell your home to pay for help in your own home

  • yes, you may have to sell your home if you need to move permanently into a care home.

Social services works out how much you're expected to pay towards your care and support through a financial assessment - or means test.

Your property will not be included in the means test if you're arranging for help in your home.

Your property will usually be included in the means test if you need to move permanently into a care home. Sometimes it won't be included, for example if it's still the main home of your partner.

Alternatives to selling your home

The main ways to avoid selling your home to pay care home fees are:

  • releasing money from your home
  • renting out your home
  • deferred payments

Releasing money from your home

Equity release allows you to release money from your home without selling it.

Make sure you get independent financial advice before considering this.

The Money Advice Service has more information on equity release.

Renting out your home

If you need to fund your care in a care home but don't want to sell your home, you could consider renting it out and using the income to help pay your care home fees.

Deferred payments

Where there is a delay in selling your property, or if you don't want to sell it immediately, you may be eligible to have your care fee payment postponed. This is known as deferred payments. It' where the council temporarily covers the cost of your care and you repay them later.

If the local council agrees to the deferred payment and pays your care home fees, it will take payment from the money raised once the property is sold. This can be:

  • during your lifetime if you choose to sell your home
  • once you die, in which case the local council can be repaid from your estate

A deferred payment scheme is only available if you don't have enough money to cover your care home fees, and you have less than £23,250 in savings. In these circumstances, the savings don't include the value of your property, but do include money in bank accounts.

What you may be able to get for free

Even if you are a self-funder, you may be eligible for some free care and support regardless of your income, including:

Read about other ways of funding care.

If your savings run out

If your savings fall below £23,250, you might be eligible for council help.

Contact your local council about 3 months before you think your savings will reach this level and ask for a reassessment of your finances and care needs. Councils will only provide funding from the date you contact them for help. So if your capital has already dropped below £23,250 before you contact them, you won't be reimbursed.

Get advice on paying for care

The system of paying for care is complex and every case is different.

You can get independent advice about paying for care from:

Page last reviewed: 24/04/2018
Next review due: 24/04/2021