Still think you can afford your own care?

Leonard with his daughter Joan and his wife Mary

Following the launch of the main parties manifesto’s and comments from various organisations on how these promises will affect those needing social care it seems the real cost of care still isn’t being addressed along with the fact that dementia is a disease just like cancer.


Here’s a case study showing how quickly  a person’s estate can be swallowed up on care costs; still think you can afford your own care?


Joan, 67, lives in Bournemouth with her husband. Her parents, Marie and Leonard Winch, live in a care home nearby – her dad on the dementia floor and her mum on the elderly person’s floor. Leonard was diagnosed with dementia 8-9 years ago, but the family suspected that he has lived with it for far longer. Mary and Leonard were coping well until, 8-9 years ago, Leonard tried to commit suicide. They were never told the reason, but Joan suspects that it was because he knew ‘what was happening to him’ and couldn’t cope with it – he didn’t want to live like that.


Last year, Mary had a fall. Problems with her blood pressure caused her to become dizzy and she fell and broke her hip. Leonard alerted their neighbour, who called an ambulance. Mary was kept in hospital for six weeks so that she could have an operation and then recover in rehab. During this time Leonard went into respite care, which cost £1,300 per week. Once she was discharged, the hospital offered Mary six weeks of home care support. This was supposed to be a visit in the morning to help her and Leonard get up and dressed and then some help at the end of the day to put them to bed. Unfortunately they arrived every day far too early in the morning and in the evening they would turn up at 6pm and try to put the two to bed. After one week, Mary asked them not to come back and Joan stepped in to support. Joan ended up running various errands for her parents, including doing the food shopping, changing sheets and doing the cleaning as well as having a chat and keeping them company. As Joan has Parkinson’s and has previously been unwell, this proved too much for her to do alone.


Joan and her parents agreed to pay an agency for 30 minutes per day of homecare support (£13.50 per day and a weekly cleaner (£25 per week), adding up to around £400 per month. Fortunately both Mary and Leonard received the full attendance allowance and so had a monthly income of approx. £650. This allowed them to comfortably pay for this support; however Joan was plugging a lot of the gaps and still ran chores for them.


Mary was still not fully recovered from her fall and was struggling to cope with caring full time for Leonard. Mary and Joan decided that it was time for Leonard to go into a care home and Mary agreed to take 4 weeks respite in the same home. At first she was very reluctant because of the costs. She argued that she could not afford it. They are now in the same home, with Mary in an older person’s unit upstairs and Leonard in the dementia unit downstairs. They see each other every day and are able to eat their meals together.


The home charges £980 per week for the dementia unit and £920 per week for the older person’s unit. Joan is paying for this using her parents’ savings. When her dad’s permanent place was agreed, Joan had to pay one month’s fees (£4,000) as a deposit, along with one month’s fee upfront. She also had to per the month’s fee for her mum upfront as well, and suspects that when they confirm it as a permanent place she will have to pay the £4,000 deposit.


Joan has worked out that her parents have a total of £100,000 in savings, but some of this is in bonds so not available immediately. She has calculated that the money they have available now will last them 10 months. She will therefore have to put their bungalow on the market ASAP. To make matters worse, it is now suspected that her mum has dementia and they may be moving her downstairs to the dementia unit, meaning cost implications of an extra £3,000 per year.


Joan has calculated that all her parents’ savings plus the sale of the bungalow will pay for 4.5 years of care for her parents.


When asked what she will do once this runs out, if her parents are still alive, she says: “I don’t know what would happen. The council pay such a small amount… We’d have to find another £1000 per month, which just is not possible. We’re retired ourselves and I have Parkinson’s! It just doesn’t bear thinking about.”

“You hear things, you hear the government promise things, but nothing ever happens.”

“Mum and dad worked so hard all their lives just for their little bit – and what’s it all for?”

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  1. Why isn’t there appropriate domiciliary services who visit at the right time and provide well trained, qualified, experienced staff who know how to support people with dementia and frailty stay in their own homes at a fraction of the cost!
    The lack of appropriate domiciliary care is shocking and unacceptable in a civilised society


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