The real cost of care

12 Jun 2019

Jewish Care’s Ellisa Estrin, explains why it is important to understand the real cost of care and the need to plan for the future.

We are fortunate in the UK to have a free health service, but as soon as we get older and require care and support, the situation is very different. Many of us plan for our retirement from an early age. But do we really think about the likelihood that we will need some form of care in our later years and understand its associated cost?

According to recent research, just one in ten of the over-45s have set aside anything to help pay for potential care costs and it is no surprise that 40% of us don’t think we will need to. In fact, around 80% of us will need some sort of care by the time we hit our 80s.

Currently, here in the UK, everyone with assets of more than £23,250 is expected to contribute towards the full cost of their social care. For many people who require either support to remain in their own home, or residential care, this cost could be tens of thousands of pounds a year.

Only if you have assets of less than £23,250 will you be eligible for local authority funded care. Even then, there is a growing gap between the funding a local authority will pay and the real cost of providing care. Many social care providers, including Jewish Care, look to families to bridge this funding gap through a weekly family contribution.

As people live longer with more complex care needs, the strain on the limited resources for social care will intensify. Jewish Care, like all social care providers, is operating in a much more challenging economic and political climate, as well as dealing with increasing cost pressures. It is important we inform you, our community, about these issues and provide you with the information you need to ensure that you can access the care and support you may need as you get older.

Financial planning for care that you don’t know whether you will need or not, for an unknown length of time and unknown cost, makes it inevitably more difficult for many of us to think about. However, this cannot and should not be a reason not to do it.

Some frequently asked questions and answers

What are the different ways care can be funded?

Self-funding – Where the person being cared for pays all the costs for their care.  Most people who own their own home, or who have savings or other assets, will have to pay for their own social care. Unlike our health service, social care is not free at the point of access.

Local authority funding – Subject to an assessment of health and financial needs, your local authority may fund some or all of your care. Where there is a shortfall between what the local authority will pay and what the actual care home fees are, we will ask a relative of a resident, (not a spouse) to contribute an additional voluntary fee, known as a “family contribution fee”, which we can give you more information about, depending on what home may be appropriate.

NHS funding – Anyone classed as having ongoing and substantial care needs could be eligible for NHS continuing healthcare funding. For example, someone living with dementia who has intense and unpredictable care needs, or people who are recovering from a stroke in their own home following a period in hospital, may be eligible.

How will I know if I’m a self-funder or not?

  • You will have to pay for your own social care costs (either care in your own home or residential care) if you:
  • Have savings and assets in excess of the capital limits for care (£23,250).
  • Don’t qualify for local authority funding, because your needs were not found to be high enough, following a needs assessment by them.

How will I know if I’m eligible for local authority funding?

To determine if you or your relative is eligible for financial support, your local authority will first carry out a free needs’ assessment. If you are assessed as having “eligible needs”, your local authority will then carry out a financial assessment. This is necessary as there are thresholds for savings and assets (known as “capital limits for care”) above which you will need to pay for care. The upper limits for a care home assessment are £23,250. They will assess you on the following three areas: income, capital and savings. You will need to provide them with information on all these areas.

Why do Jewish Care and other care home providers ask for a weekly family contribution fee?

Often there is a significant difference between the amount the local authority is prepared to pay towards you or your relative’s care and the actual cost of care, leading to a funding gap. In an increasingly difficult economic environment, with costs increasing faster than income, it is incumbent upon Jewish Care to request relevant family members to make a family contribution to reduce the level of deficit.

Many of our residents cannot pay their full fees (demonstrated by the fact that they have qualified for local authority funding). It is for this reason that we ask whether any relatives of the resident would be able to help make a contribution to the care costs. This allows us to meet the deficit created by the shortfall from local authority funding. Only by doing this can we can continue to keep the doors of our care homes open.

I thought Jewish Care was a charity. I have been donating for years. What do you fundraise for if you are asking for all this money?

There are many residents in need of care in our homes, who come to us without income or any relatives to help support them. The kind generosity of others means we are able to fill the gap in funding between what the local authority pays us and the real cost of us delivering care for them to have a place in our home too.  In addition, many of our vital services supporting members of our community receive very little and in some cases, no government funding at all. These include our Helpline, Social Workers, Family Carers and Support Team, our Community Centres, Dementia Day Centres and many different support groups we offer. Thanks to the kind generosity of our community, we can provide these services to those in need of them.

I have more questions or need advice who can help me?

For more information about care options and advice and support available, please contact Jewish Care’s Living with Jewish Care team on 020 8922 2218 or email

Outside of Jewish Care you could speak to a financial advisor. Planning for long-term care is a specialist area, so make sure your adviser holds a relevant qualification, either a CF8 or CeLTCI qualification. You can find an adviser through the Society of Later Life Advisers (0333 202 0454, or Unbiased (0800 023 6868,