What if I need care?

Everyone wants a long, healthy retirement but it’s only natural to wonder how you might manage if you or a relative eventually have health issues, or need to think about long-term care. Understanding your options now can really put your mind at rest.

Long-term care what are the options?

The first thing you need to think about is whether you or the person needs on-going care in a care home or just some help with day-to-day tasks at home.

Help within your own home

Most people want to retain as much independence as they can for long as possible, so it's important to consider options such as visits from a home care worker, monitored personal alarms or ‘meals on wheels'.

Sometimes making modifications such as a stair lift or wheelchair ramp can mean that an older person can stay in their own home rather than moving into care.

Intermediate care

This is a type of care that’s available through the NHS, usually in the person’s own home. Limited to a maximum of six weeks, it provides a short period of intensive medical care with a planned outcome, often helping the person concerned to remain independent. Intermediate care would normally be provided following a needs assessment.

Sheltered housing

This option combines independent living with the reassurance of support from a warden and access to communal facilities and services. It’s possible to buy or rent a suitable home.

Respite care

Local authorities can often arrange for people who need care to stay somewhere for a short time, to recover from illness or so their usual carer can have a break.

Care homes

Sometimes it’s impossible to meet care needs at home, or the costs might be far too high if round-the-clock care is needed. If this is the case, a care home may be the best option.

The type of home you might choose would depend on whether the person being cared for would need the constant attendance of registered nurses and experienced care assistants.

Not sure what your care needs may be?< Back to summary

Arrange a local authority needs assessment

If you think that you – or a family member – may need long-term care, you should contact your local authority for support.

They’ll carry out an assessment to decide what your needs are and, if necessary, put together a care plan. Don’t worry, no-one will try to make decisions for you – it’s just a way of working out the best way to help.

Find out more about needs assessments

How much will the care cost?< Back to summary

It’s important not to underestimate the likely cost of care – even if it’s provided in your own home. Just two hours care each day could add up to £11,000 or more over the course of a year. The average cost of a residential care home place is currently around £28,500 a year (figures from the Money Advice Service).

How could I pay for it?< Back to summary

The costs of care can seem daunting, but there are a number of options when it comes to funding your own care – and depending on your circumstances, some or all of the costs could be met by the local authority or other bodies.

In the case of someone moving into a care home, the local authority will carry out a financial assessment to find out whether they have to pay for their own care costs.

Many people’s first fear is that they will have to sell their home to pay for care, but this is by no means always the case – especially not if a close relative of the person moving into a care home still lives in the house.

Start thinking about your finances as soon as possible< Back to summary

The important thing is to start considering your options as early as possible, so you won’t be forced to make a quick decision at a time when you might have plenty of other things to think about.

  • The Money Advice Service has lots of information about your options for funding long-term care. This includes help to understand what your local council may and may not be able to help with.
  • Aviva can help you to consider options such as Pensions, an ISA or an Investment Account to help you prepare for the possible future cost of care.
  • We’d recommend that you speak to a financial adviser before you make any decisions about funding long-term care. If you don’t already have an adviser of your own, you can find one in your area by visiting www.societyoflaterlifeadvisers.co.uk

Money Advice Service

More about care services, including an idea of costs and what the state will pay for.


Independent, free information about housing and care options.

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