Care home costs rose by a record 9.6% between 2016 and 2017, according to Prestige Nursing + Care research.
The average cost of a care home in the UK reached a record £33,094 in 2017, equivalent to £2,978 more than the average recorded in 2016.
Jonathan Bruce, Managing Director of Prestige Nursing + Care, said: “It is alarming to see care home costs continue to rise so out of sync with pensioners’ incomes. With later life incomes stagnating, the rising cost of care will eat away at a growing number of families’ finances as they use their assets to meet bills for vital support. This reinforces the fact that we are facing a serious and prolonged social care crisis.”
The research found that the annual cost of a care home equated to 133.5% of the average pensioner’s income, meaning the average pensioner’s income would now pay for approximately just five months of care.
By region, the East of England was the least affordable area for the third year running, with a cost-income shortfall of £25,636. This was the result of a 7.7% increase in care home costs (from £37,908 to £40,820) coupled with a modest 0.7% increase in regional pensioner incomes (rising from £15,080 to £15,184). The East of England has now also overtaken London as the region with the most expensive care homes.
The East Midlands saw the largest overall increase in the cost of a care home last year, rising 17.7% to £33,956. With an average regional pensioner income of £14,650, the regional cost-income shortfall increased by 30.4% to £19,396.
Similar to last year’s study, the North East still has the most affordable care homes of any region, with a cost-income shortfall of £12,012. However, as a result of rapid growth in care home costs (16.3%) and a small reduction in pensioner income (-0.4%), the region experienced a 43.5% increase in this shortfall, which is the largest recorded.
Yorkshire and the Humber is the only region to see care home affordability improve year-on-year. With pensioners’ incomes rising faster than care costs (3.0% versus 1.3%), the shortfall fell by 0.3% to a nonetheless sizeable £14,872.
The average cost of a residential care home is equal to 2,260 hours of home care at a price of £15 an hour, which would amount to 43.4 hours of care a week, the research found.
Prestige Nursing + Care said pensioners could save £24,388 each year by being care for at home rather than in a care home.