Nursing home fees: The facts you need to know

If you, or your relative, have reached the point where it becomes preferable or necessary to move into a care home, it’s essential that you know all your options, including the likely level of costs and fees, before making any major decisions.

What level of support is needed?

A home registered simply as a “care home” will provide personal care that covers help with washing, dressing and giving medication. Should you require medical or nursing care you will need to be in an establishment registered as a “care home with nursing”, also known as a “nursing home”.

A nursing home will have qualified nursing staff on duty 24 hours a day. They may accept someone requiring personal care only, but be aware that the fees may be significantly higher than they would be at a home simply providing personal care.

If you require specialised care, there are nursing homes that have trained staff to deal with specific needs such as dementia.  Again, nursing home fees here may well be higher.  However, dementia care does not necessarily need to be provided in a nursing home or by nurses.Read more about choosing a care home for someone with dementia

How far should you plan ahead?

Obviously, it is essential to choose a home where the level of care required is readily available but where you won't be spending money on services you'll not need. Equally, if your health is declining rapidly, then look ahead and ensure your preferred care home can provide higher levels of care to avoid having to move from one home to another.

Your GP (or the doctor discharging you from hospital) will be able to advise on whether nursing care is appropriate (short or long term); but it will certainly be needed if, for instance, you require:

    • Dressing of an open or closed wound
    • Artificial feeding
    • Medicine through injections
    • Intensive rehabilitation resulting from a debilitating disease or surgery

Planning your nursing home care

Often the choice of a care home or nursing home has to be made in a hurry – in the aftermath of an illness, hospital stay or fall – giving you limited time to make a decision on where to go, or to plan how to pay the fees. Choices may also be limited because some homes have waiting lists. The more time you can spend choosing the right home for your situation, the better.

Choosing the right nursing home

The first important consideration is location – ideally it should be convenient for friends and relatives to visit. And while it might seem natural to move to a home close to where you have always lived, your support network may have changed, making it advisable to move close to immediate family or those in the best position to make regular visits. 

To find homes locally that offer the right services with nursing home fees in your price range, this website is a very good place to start:

To determine the quality of care provided, inspection reports on all care homes are freely available from the Care Quality Commission (CQC)

Adjusting to the change

Do remember that, for some, the move from a family home to a single room, even though there are additional communal facilities, can be challenging and even upsetting.

To really get to know a care or nursing home, visiting it several times at different times of the day (including meal times) is advisable. It may also be worth talking to relatives of other residents. Many homes offer the helpful option of a short stay to sample the care provided. 

The best homes will do much more than simply meet the health and care needs of their residents. They will treat them as individuals, ensure they are mentally stimulated, entertained, physically active and socially engaged in a way that is appropriate for the resident. They should also respect cultural differences and spiritual needs. It’s worth noting that some care homes cater specifically for people of specific faiths or from particular professional backgrounds.

What will the nursing home fees be?

The costs of staying in a nursing home will vary considerably. The more specialised the care, the higher the fees and, of course, more comfortable surroundings and facilities will also increase the cost.

Nursing home fees also vary significantly in different parts of the country. Weekly fees can be anything from £600 upwards. It is essential to research what level of care and comfort you can expect for your money in your area.

It is also very important to access expert financial advice, independent from the Local Authority, at the earliest point possible to determine what level of fees you are able to continuously afford and how paying for these fees might best be achieved.

Find out what you might expect to pay for nursing home fees where you live