Social careAug 27 2020

Two thirds of homeowners worried about cost of care

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Two thirds of homeowners worried about cost of care

Two thirds of homeowners aged 50 are worried about their ability to meet the rising costs of later life care, according to research from Nationwide.

The lender found almost half of the 2,000 homeowners questioned feared they would have to sell their family home in order to pay for assisted living support in a care home.

This comes as care home costs have risen dramatically over the course of the past few years, with the average annual cost of residential care now surpassing £33,000 per year.

According to separate research from support group Independent Age, 330,000 older people have sold their homes to meet care costs in the past 20 years.

This is despite the vast majority saying they did not want to move to a care home to begin with - a mere 2 per cent told Nationwide they would consciously choose to move to a care home if they needed support in completing everyday tasks.

Jason Hurwood, Nationwide director of home propositions, said: “If someone is looking to raise additional funding to pay for care, there are a number of options.

"One is to downsize or move to a cheaper area; alternatively, you could make changes to your current home that can support you as you grow older.

“Depending on your individual circumstances, releasing equity in your home is another option that many choose. However, this is a major financial decision and we’d always strongly recommend seeking independent financial advice to understand all of your options before progressing”

Nationwide found that many were already planning to take these steps.

More than a third of people expected to move home again in their later life and 81 per cent said they were worried they would have to dip into their savings to pay for home improvements which would allow them to live independently for longer, such as stairlifts or walk-in baths. 

Of those over the age of 50 almost a quarter (24 per cent) would either consider moving or already have moved to a bungalow to avoid the need to go upstairs which would enable them to live independently for longer.

However, if they do need later life assistance, more than half (52 per cent) would prefer to continue living alone with outside help from a daily carer that lives separately.

A further 23 per cent would prefer to continue living alone, but with a family member close by for help.

Funding crisis

The government has come under increasing pressure to deal with the social care crisis after years of inaction, and in a speech in late June, Boris Johnson said it was ‘finalising’ plans to solve the issue

However, voters remain sceptical. Just Group’s annual care report, published at the time, found only 34 per cent of Conservative voters though the prime minister would be able to put a social care policy into practice in this Parliament.

In July, the Independent Care Group called on Mr Johnson to deliver on social care or resign.

Paul Burstow, former minister for care and chairman of the Social Care Institute for Excellence, said: “These figures reflect a long term trend that has been accelerated by the pandemic.

"People seldom choose to go into a care home -- it is seen as a last resort. Looking ahead, the government must take steps to make it easier for people to take steps that prevent and postpone the need for care and give them peace of mind about the costs when they do.

“The lack of choice of housing options in later life is an obstacle to people right sizing their home, investment in a spectrum of housing with care could turn a last resort in to a positive choice.”

Dom Webb is an intern working with Financial Adviser