Moving into a care home

Care homes provide 24-hour on-site care services for people with complex care needs.

Moving to live in a care home is probably more complicated than any other home move, yet is often arranged at a time of crisis. Residents will typically have their own room which may or may not be en-suite. This guide aims to help you stay in control of events, understand what care homes are, consider alternatives, make your own decisions and see them through.

What is a care home?

The core function of a care home is to provide care. This includes ‘personal’ care, such as help with washing, dressing, eating or toileting, and may also include nursing. The care is available 24 hours a day and the people that live in care homes therefore typically have complex care needs which mean they cannot live independently at home.

Some care homes will also having the services of a registered nurse on-site. These homes a commonly referred to as ‘nursing homes’ and are typically for people living with conditions that need regular medical intervention, such as dementia.

If you are unsure whether you or a family member requires a care home, you can approach your local authority to request an assessment of need. This usually involves a social worker, or other qualified professional, taking the time to work with you in order to understand your needs. Once the assessment is completed they will make recommendations on how your care could be met, one possibility is that they will suggest moving to a care home.

Choosing a care home

There are many different sorts of care homes. Some provide nursing care and some don’t. There are large homes that are like hotels (with care) and there are small family-style homes. Some are run by large organisations and some are run by family businesses. There are even homes run by professional associations, unions, and religious organisations for their members and families. Because there is such a variety of care homes, it is important that you consider more than one before making a choice.

Our Choosing and paying for a care home guide includes a number of questions that you might want to ask any care home before deciding on moving there.

If you are looking for a care home then you may wish to use a service provided by Care Sourcer. They provide an entirely free care matching service, bringing you a tailored list of care homes with current vacancies, with their price, within 24 hours. You can view their website, here.

Alternatively, you can use the HousingCare accommodation search to find information on the 13,000 registered care homes in the UK. Contact details are provided for every care home, allowing you to contact them to enquire about availability and price.

Temporary stays and respite

You may want to think about some short term care – perhaps after a stay in hospital, while waiting to move somewhere permanent, to give yourself or your carer a break or to see whether you would like to live in a care home permanently.  

If you are paying for the care yourself, approach your chosen care home and check whether they have respite vacancies and ask whether they can provide the care you need (especially if you have recently come out of hospital). Be sure to get details of the charges and services in writing.

Alternatively you can approach your local authority’s Adult Social Care team to request assistance with finding a temporary care placement. If they agree that you are in need of this service then they should be able to assist you in finding and, potentially, paying for some or all of the cost.

How much does a care home cost?

Generally speaking, if you have over £23,250 in savings (with anything in joint accounts being treated as 50/50) then you are likely to be asked to pay the full cost and will be classed as a ‘self-funder’. This figure is £50,000 in Wales and £28,000 in Scotland.

The average weekly cost of a care home can vary depending on location and level of care required. Prices start from around £400 per week in some areas but a more accurate average is usually in the region of £800 to £1100 per week, with some luxury care homes charging in excess of £2000 per week.