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UK adults underprepared to handle the reality of care home costs for elderly family members amid social care uncertainty

Research* commissioned by Quilter Cheviot Investment Management has revealed a worrying level of uncertainty amongst UK adults when it comes to saving for professional care for their parents or family members in later life.

The majority of UK adults (61%) either do not think their parents will need to spend time in a care home or do not know if their parents will need to. Little understanding of what is required to support an elderly parent or family member that is struggling with their physical or mental health in later life is further exacerbated by the alarming gap when it comes to expectation and reality on retirement savings and the cost and duration of this care.

When asked about how much a UK care home costs per person, 27% of respondents believe the average cost to be between £1,000-2,000 a month, 24% believe it’s between £2,000-3,000 a month; while 19% estimate it to cost between £3,000-4,000 a month.

According to Which? research, in 2016-2017 the average weekly cost of a room in a residential home in the UK was £606 (£2,424 a month), while a room in a nursing home cost £802 a week (£3,208 a month). 

Pamela Reid, Client Services Director at Quilter Cheviot, said: “Advances in medicine mean we’re living longer and healthier lives, however our health isn’t something we can always control. While life expectancy has increased significantly, that doesn’t necessarily equate to a healthy life expectancy. It’s important not to ignore the fact that this could also mean we need assistance later on in life and may have to plan for it.”

Quilter Cheviot’s poll also found that over a third (39%) of respondents could not estimate how long their parent or family member may need to spend in a care home. Twenty-eight per cent of UK adults estimated that family members may need to spend between one and three years in a care home. This dropped to 10% for between three and four years and to 6% for between five and six years. A report by Age UK earlier this year found that around 27% of people live in care homes for more than three years.

Pamela added: “This news comes ahead of the government’s green paper on social care which we hope will provide clarity on the care funding options available to the wider society. As bespoke wealth managers, we have a unique perspective on how to help people structure their investments and plan for a number of scenarios in later life. This can include plans that address the possibility of having to fund the cost of a residential care home. It is not an easy conversation to have with family members but one that is crucial to ensure they have best standard of care and quality of life in good and ill health.”

As people are living longer, increasing numbers are being affected by dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or similar illnesses. Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a set of symptoms such as memory loss or difficulty with thinking, problem solving or language. There are currently 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, and this figure is set to rise to 1 million by 2025, according to the Alzheimer’s Society.

Earlier this week the Alzheimer’s Society urged the Chancellor to ring-fence £2.5billion in the upcoming Autumn Budget for social care, in order to plug the current funding gap. According to the charity, people with dementia typically spend £100,000 on care over their lifetime.

As part of its ongoing dementia initiative, Quilter Cheviot has produced a ‘Supporting you in Later Life’ guide, which provides an introduction to many of the issues people face in later life.

To receive a free copy of the guide and to read about the work Quilter Cheviot is doing to raise awareness of dementia, and supporting people in later life, please visit here:

*Source: Research conducted online by YouGov on behalf of Quilter Cheviot with 1,525 UK consumers aged 18+ with a minimum of £100k of investable assets and living parents.

Investors should remember that the value of investments, and the income from them, can go down as well as up. Investors may not recover what they invest. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Any mention of a specific security should not be interpreted as a solicitation to buy or sell a specific security.

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