Yes, £860 per week really is the cost of residential care at the present time – and that’s only for accommodation! Of course with staff rightly being given the living wage (or the London living wage), the costs will go up. We are told that this – combined with a decrease in staff – may see the standard of care go down.
Plus, this £860 per week does not cover a multitude of things that are part of normal living – laundry, hair washing, perhaps help with washing/personal care etc. are all charged extra.
Let’s not forget: people who have saved all their lives have to pay the full cost of their stay in a residential unit whilst also paying for the people the local council have placed in the unit. As a result they end up paying well over the top. You are not informed of this deception.
So, are there alternatives? Well yes, I think there are, but a lot depends on your medical condition or the reasons why you are going into residential care.
If you don’t need much help then renting a flat would be cheaper at £1,500 or £1,600 per month even with the council tax and energy bills. It is easy enough to get an alarm system installed. Care would cost about £1000 a month and at least you would be in greater comfort with your independence instead of being institutionalized. In some parts of the country there are still schemes which have elements of the original sheltered housing with a communal room but your own independent flat.
Some people stay in hotels for years (although that is dying out now) but had advantages such as a warm room, facilities, staff, cleaning, and access to meals and opportunities to be social etc.
If you are lucky enough to own your accommodation – then equity release can be a sensible option. It reduces the value of your home for inheritance tax and so the family won’t lose out too much – just the tax man.
There is also the option of the council/local authority making a charge on your property to pay for the care you receive and then claiming it back when you die. However I think they also charge interest which isn’t ideal if you are lucky enough to live for 15 or more years – seems a bit of rip off.
The other type of residential care – one I think is tempting – is going on the year long cruises. Even though this can cost £10,000 per year, that is cheaper than residential care! Plus look at what it covers: a cabin, your food, heating, cleaning, and some laundry. There are also free on board activities – even your own TV! Oh, and staff are available at all times. You can also benefit from mental stimulation as you travel to new places and meet a vast range of new people. On top of all this there are medical and dental facilities available with physios and podiatrists etc. It’s a very attractive alternative!
The latest alternative is prison! Yes – I am being serious. 60+ is the fastest growing age group in custody – three times higher than 15 years ago. Over 4,000 prisoners are 60+ and over 100 over are 80+.
Prisoners are becoming increasingly frail and are requiring specialist treatment and palliative care. The Chief Inspector of Prisons states that older inmates require specialist detention units as standard prisons are unable to provide “residential care”.
Among the prisoners are murderers, violent criminals, and – of course – the sexual offenders that have been highlighted in various highly public court cases and could almost fill a prison themselves. All of which means that there are a lot of people on very long sentences and at some point we need to assess whether prison is the right environment for them.
There should be a discussion to determine whether it is necessary to hold people in the secure levels of ordinary prisoners or whether some other form of secure accommodation is more suited to managing the risk presented. Is prison the right type of custody? The approach should be individualised according to the risk posed by each individual.
So, why do I say prison could be an alternative to residential care? Well… think about it! The usual route will cost you at least £45,000 per year which will not include many of the things you will need – and that’s just the current rate.
The new prison residential care units will cost you nothing. You will have your accommodation, food, heating, laundry etc. all included. There will be staff to help with your care – free. You will be provided with activities – free. There is usually a prison library, TV etc. There will always be staff around to help you.
Ok – the downside is that it won’t be luxurious, but then how many care homes are? Your meals will be provided at set times and probably you won’t have a choice, you will have to go to bed at set times and get up at the times stipulated, but that is very similar to care homes.
You can’t pop out to the shops or go for a walk when you want to but you still can have visitors and a full Christmas lunch. In fact the nursing care you will receive is probably better than in the community as they have to have most things to hand and more staff to help. They have regular visits from doctors and dentists (free) and in some places they have gardening clubs.
I am not suggesting that the older population go out and commit violent crimes but perhaps just minor crimes that would put you into prison for a couple of years. Just think how much you could save over that period! By the time you get out you will be quite rich so you can have a bit of luxury – even go on holiday instead of scraping a living and worrying how you are going to be able to pay and for how long. You could even afford to go on annual cruises!