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Planning Retirement Online

Finding long-term care in later life


How to find long term care for a parent  

It usually takes a crisis - a fall or sudden health deterioration - for people to realise that their parent can no longer cope living at home alone. Suddenly, the decision to find care  becomes an urgent priority. And, for most, they don’t know where to start. 

Here is a guide to the questions to consider, should you ever find yourself in the position of finding care for a parent or close relative.  

What kind of care does your parent need?

There is a variety of care available, including post-operative care, residential care, nursing care and care for those with dementia.  

Residential homes provide accommodation, meals and personal care, such as help with bathing and dressing, for those who are finding it difficult to cope at home, or who need more help than their carers are able to provide. Residential homes do not generally provide nursing care for medical conditions.  

Nursing homes provide accommodation, meals and personal care, but also have qualified nurses in constant attendance. Many provide more specialist dementia care. A nursing home will generally charge higher fees than a residential home because it offers care by qualified nurses, although the NHS now makes a contribution to nursing care fees.   

Detailed advice on what kinds of care are available and what they entail can be seen  on BUPA's website on

Nursing homes, palliative & residential respite care - BUPA Care Homes

Your GP and social services should also be able to help with advice. Or ring 0800 00 10 10 for a copy of BUPA’s free guide on finding care for an elderly person.

The cost of care (May 2002)

There was a time when we thought the state would look after us 'from cradle to grave'. These days, the state still provides a level of care for the least well off. But if the state thinks your parent can afford to pay, they will have to pay at least some of the costs of accommodation and personal costs in a residential nursing home.

Briefly, there are three bands of support:

  • If your parent's assets and savings are less than 11,500, your local authority may pay for the cost of their residential or nursing home care. 

  • If their assets and savings are between 11,500 and 18,500, your local authority will still pay for their accommodation and personal care, but not fully, and they will be asked to contribute to the costs.

  • If their and savings are over 18,500, they will have to pay the full costs of accommodation and personal care.

If your parent's assets and savings fall below 18,500 while they are in a care home, they will become eligible for help from the local authority. 

If your parent wants a more expensive home than the authority is willing to pay for, they are allowed to 'top up' their contribution from another source. 

Your parent's home would be included in their assets only if they live alone, or both your parents are moving into a care home. In addition, the local authority will disregard the value of their home for 12 weeks after their admission to permanent nursing or residential care.  

Your parents will be expected to use all their income - including pension, benefits, and so on - to fund care. However, they will each be able to keep 16.05 a week spending money.


 “Free nursing care”

Towards the end of last year there was a lot of discussion about the introduction of “free nursing care” in England. From October 2001, the state provides a contribution towards the nursing part of the care provided by a registered nurse in a nursing home. The payment is 35, 70 or 110 depending on an assessment of your parent's nursing needs. If your parent is paying for their own nursing home fees, they will still need to cover the cost of accommodation and personal care.  

Information on what care is provided in England, Wales and Scotland, and a list of organisations to contact for advice, is available on Nursing home insurance, paying residential care costs - BUPA Care Homes


What to look for in a home

When visiting homes, there are a number of questions you should bear in mind:

  • The home's location - is it easily accessible for visiting, on a bus route, for instance? Does it have car parking?

  • Is it near shops and cafes so that the more able residents can go out?

  • What is the accommodation like? Is the home well decorated, bright and cheery?

  • Is there useful equipment, such as lifts and specially equipped bathrooms?

  • Can personal possessions or a pet be accommodated?

  • Are a variety of activities and outings available?

  • Is sufficient medical help available? 

  • Can residents have their own GP?

  • Is there a choice of menu? 

  • Are the staff friendly and caring? 

Giving each of these points careful consideration will help you decide whether the care home is one in which your parent will feel comfortable and happy and will be well cared for.


When deciding which care homes to visit it may be useful to speak to:

  • Friends and relatives, for their recommendations 

  • Your GP 

  • Your local Social Services department, which should be able to provide a list of registered homes in your area. 

  • The Elderly Accommodation Counsel (0207 820 1343) for lists of homes in most areas.

  • The Independent Healthcare Association (0207 793 4620) for a list of its members.

  • The Registered Nursing Home Association (0121 454 2511) for a list of registered nursing homes. 


Staying happy

Once you have made a decision and your parent has moved to their new home, it is important that you continue to feel happy with the choice of home.

Addressing Concerns

It is important for you to raise any concerns with the home manager. They should be able to rectify any problems and address your concerns. If you are not satisfied with the response you receive, most large providers will have senior operational staff members who you can turn to. As a last resort, you can refer your concerns to the registration and inspection unit at the health authority.


Take away the anxiety and stress in choosing a care home by logging onto BUPA Care Homes' new website,  Online users can also order a free copy of BUPA's independent guide, Planning for Your Needs in Later Life, which includes a glossary of helpful charities and associations and their contact details.

Visitors to the website are given independent advice on choosing a care home or planning for other needs in later life and valuable information on what funding they're entitled to from the state or NHS in England, Wales and Scotland. The site also provides details of independent associations that can be contacted for additional advice, as well as checklists designed to help choose a home that will care for all a resident's needs.

Visitors to the site can find one or more of BUPA's 236 care homes by searching by location or for a home by name. Each home has its own full colour web page that includes details of the facilities, a colour photograph and the home's contact details including e-mail address. Visitors can also search for homes by the category of care required: residential, nursing, dementia care or young physically disabled.

BUPA Care Services:

  • Is the largest provider of care to the elderly in the UK.

  • Operates 236 nursing and residential homes caring for over 15,000 residents.

  • Cares for approximately 7,000 respite residents per year in its care homes.

  • Manages over 2,000 units of sheltered housing or retirement accommodation.

  • Approximately 70 per cent of those who live in BUPA care homes are state funded.



laterlife interest

The above article is part of the features section of called laterlife interest. laterlife interest contains a variety of articles of interest for visitors to written by a number of experienced and new journalists.

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