care home fees what happens when the money runs out

Care home fees: what happens when the money runs out?

6 min read |
Alistair Clay Author

Author 08.02.2023

Alistair Clay

If you are self-funding care home fees, you may wonder what happens when the money runs out.

The cost of care, though necessary, can be a real financial burden that leaves many families struggling.

This article will cover care home fees and what happens when the money runs out.

Here’s a summary of what we’ll cover:

  • Care home fees can vary greatly depending on where you live and what care you need. 
  • Re-doing your care needs assessment may find you eligible for additional funding.
  • Your local authority will never leave you without the care you need, but you may have to make some changes.
Who pays care home fees?

Who pays care home fees?

Care home fees are the regular payments made to a care home for essential care services and residency. 

Like other care costs, they can be paid for in a variety of ways, depending on your financial situation. 

During an initial care needs assessment your finances will be assessed to determine to what extent you pay for your care.

Funding for care costs

In England, if you have £23,250 or above in capital, you will not qualify for any funding. 

This means that you have to pick up the care home costs.

However, having less than £23,250 in the bank may make you eligible for partial funding from the council. 

Finally, if you have £14,250 or less in capital, you’ll receive full funding and do not have to pay for your own care.

do relatives pay care home fees

How much do care homes cost?

What you have to pay for care home costs depends on multiple factors. 

You can expect to find variation in price by UK region and the type of care needed.

The UK Care Guide research shows that average annual care home fees range from £27,000 plus.

  • Residential care from £27,000 to £39,000 a year 
  • Nursing care from £35,000 – £55,000 a year

Some care comparison sites estimate the average cost to be higher, so it is important that you research costs thoroughly.

Confused about care funding?

Free Care Funding Guide Download

How to save on care home fees when the money runs out

Care home fees cover housing, meals and other living essentials, plus everyday care from staff. 

Once the essential care needs are met, it may be possible to save in some areas when choosing a care home. 

Be aware of hidden costs such as:

  • Room size and features
  • Wellness appointments
  • TV and phone installation/usage 
  • Unspecified carer time

Should you switch to home care if you can’t afford a care home?

Not necessarily. 

Home care is ideal for people with fewer needs as well as those needing live-in care. 

But while receiving home care visits is a great alternative to moving to a care home, it isn’t necessarily cheaper.

can't afford care home fees

What happens if you can't pay?

If you only received partial funding or are a self-funder you will be paying for your own care

This is a considerable financial burden, as care home fees are very expensive. 

It is then, a very real possibility, that when the money runs out you are left unable to pay care home fees.


care home fees what happens when the money runs out

Care home fees – what happens when the money runs out?

While care homes understand the need for someone’s care, fees must be paid in order to provide it. 

This could leave you fearing eviction from the care home, though the care need has not changed. 

In this case, you would re-apply for funding from the local authority through a care needs assessment.

This will identify any changes to care needs plus financial means, and you may be eligible for more funding.

Try not to worry

The good news is that if you have a care need, the local authority has a duty of care towards you. 

This means that they have a responsibility to get you the care that you need. 

After being assessed, you will know how much money you have for care home fees and can plan accordingly.

This may mean making some changes to your care setting or exploring different funding options. 

How much do care homes cost?

What if I get less funding than I need?

Even if you started your care journey with savings as a self or partial funder, changing circumstances can make care unaffordable.

If you are eligible for less funding than you need to pay for your care home fees you should consider these options. 

Moving to a different care home

While this can be very disruptive it may save you the money you need to pay for your long-term care. 

Yes, it may feel like downgrading or making a huge compromise, but it is important that you can access the care you need.

Opting for a more basic care package

If your care home has different tiers of rooms, see if you can opt for a more basic living package. 

This does not mean you have to compromise on the level of care, but may mean living without certain features.

Confused about care funding?

Free Care Funding Guide Download

Third party payments

If you are unable to afford the price of your care home, you may need to ask family and friends to help out. 

They can do this through a third party top-up payment. 

These are regular payments that cover the cost of care on top of the available funding. 

You might consider a top-up payment if the council is suggesting you move from one care home into a cheaper facility.

Do next of kin pay for care home fees?

Charity support

If you find yourself unable to afford the fees, some charities run financial assistance schemes. 

You can find a list of charities and benevolent funds that support people with care home fees here. 

Deferred payment

If you own your own home, you could opt for a deferred payment method to help pay care home fees. 

This means the local council uses the value of your home as assurance for the payment of care home fees. 

You’ll sign a legal agreement with the local council that guarantees that you’ll pay back the cost of care.

This could be when your house is sold during your life or after your death.

care funding guide

What other funding can help with care home costs?

There are a number of benefits and funding options that can help fund care home fees. 

You must demonstrate your eligibility in each case, and getting one may mean you won’t qualify for another. 

Even if you weren’t eligible when you started on your care journey, changing circumstances may mean that you qualify for support.

care home fees

Attendance Allowance

Attendance allowance is a non-means tested benefit that helps you pay for a care worker.

You can claim attendance allowance if you have:

  • Reached state pension age
  • A physical or mental disability that requires care 
  • You live in a care home
  • You might have 6 months of less to live 

There’s more here on how to claim attendance allowance.

what happens when care home fees money runs out

NHS Continuing Healthcare

If you have a complex health need that requires care, you may be entitled to NHS Continuing Healthcare (NHS CHC).

NHS CHC is funding made available by the NHS that pays for your care, including care home fees. 

It covers everything from health and social care costs to accommodation.

what happens when money for care runs out

Eligibility for NHS Continuing Healthcare

To be eligible for NHS CHC you must have a primary health need as a result of:

  • an illness
  • a disability
  • or having been in an accident and need care

You will undergo an assessment to detail your care needs from breathing to continence and communication. 

You may not have been eligible for NHS CHC at the start of your care journey. 

But if your health needs have changed it is worth getting assessed, as it could help you pay for your care home fees. 

What are the benefits of reminiscence therapy?

NHS Funded Nursing Care

This means that the NHS pays for the nursing component of your care home fees. 

To be eligible, you must live in a nursing home and require nursing care.

Yet you can only receive NHS nursing care if you are not eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare. 

If you are eligible, you will have £209.19 a week for nursing care costs discounted from your care home fees.

Confused about care funding?

Free Care Funding Guide Download

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Alistair Clay Author

Author 08.02.2023

Alistair Clay

Alistair is a founding Director of Sweet Pea Care and the Managing Director of social care communications agency Arc Seven where he advises some of the UK’s biggest care providers.