Residential care

Does a relative need care? Where do you start?

Life is full of twists and turns, and it often seems that just when things seem to be ticking over nicely, some curve ball is thrown that suddenly changes everything.

One example of this is if a relative becomes unwell or immobile and needs some kind of care. Many of us would simply not know where to start in that situation. For example:

  • What kinds of care are available in the UK?
  • How do you go about arranging care for a relative?
  • What kind of financial support is available to help with the costs of care?


In this article we try to provide some answers to the above questions, to help you navigate your way through the process of getting the care that your relative needs.


What kinds of care are available in the UK?

There are various types of care available in the UK depending on the need of the patient. The key distinction is whether your relative needs short term or permanent care:


  • Short term care

Short term care is often needed if someone is discharged from hospital, and needs a bit of extra support for the first few weeks. The NHS will usually provide some level of care free of charge for up to 6 weeks. 

If this does not seem to be happening, there are other options to consider which we will look at later in this article.


  • Permanent care

If your relative needs some kind of permanent care or support, there are three main options available:


  • Home adaptation

A few simple changes to your relative’s home can make a huge difference as to how well they are able to function in the home, for example stairlifts, ramps, widened doorways, lowered worktops, and adapted baths and toilets.


  • Home care

Carers coming into the home on a regular basis to help with personal care and everyday tasks such as shopping, errands, cooking and cleaning can enable your relative to stay in their own home instead of having to go into residential care.


  • Residential care

Residential care refers to either a residential care home, where your relative can live a reasonably independent life but have all their practical needs taken care of, or a nursing home where full time medical care can also be provided.


How do you go about arranging care for a relative?

There are different processes that you need to go through depending on the type of care you are looking for:


  • Short term care

As we saw earlier, the NHS will usually arrange a few weeks short term care if needed after a hospital discharge. If your relative is not offered this you can either take it up with the hospital or contact local social services to see if it can be arranged.

If there is any issue with NHS-funded short term care, you could also look into arranging this privately. There are many reputable organisations that offer care within the home. A good place to start would be either by asking around for recommendations or checking local social media sites to find out which seem to be the better local organisations. 

You may also benefit from contacting charitable organisations such as Age UK who may be able to provide not only advice, but possibly also some voluntary help, for example with day to day tasks such as shopping and light housework.


  • Permanent care

If it’s clear that your relative needs more permanent care, the first thing to do is to get in touch with your local social services and arrange a needs assessment. This will help to determine objectively how well your relative is able to cope with everyday tasks, and what is the best kind of care package for them.

The needs assessment is likely to recommend one of the three options we mentioned above:

  • Home adaptation

The needs assessment will recommend the best ways to adapt your relative’s home, and how to go about making things happen.


  • Home care

If the needs assessment recommends carers coming into your relative’s home, they may have a list of recommended carers. If not, check out word of mouth and other local recommendations. It is also worth looking at the NHS Homecare services finder for approved homecare agencies in your area.


  • Residential care

Before choosing either a residential or nursing home, it is important to look around a few different homes to get a good idea of what they are like and whether you think your relative would settle there. Again, it’s a good idea to ask around and look for local recommendations; and there is also a care home search tool on the NHS website.


What kind of financial support is available to help with the costs of care?

Providing care for a relative can be expensive, but there is financial support available. Here’s a quick run down of possible financial support for the three types of permanent care outlined above:


  • Home adaptation

Your local council will usually fund any home adaptation costing less than £1000. You can find details of your local council and how to apply for help here.

If the home adaptation work is going to cost more than this, it is worth looking into whether you could get a Disabled Facilities Grant towards the cost. Also explore charitable options such as Independence at Home.


  • Home care

If your relative’s home care is provided by the council, they may either keep this charge at a reduced proportion of the actual cost or set up a direct payment to your relative to go towards the cost of a carer of their choice.

If you are paying for home care privately, there are various benefits your relative may be able to claim which could help with the cost:

  • Attendance Allowance is available to those over state pension age to help towards the costs of staying independent at home.
  • Personal Independence Payment is similar to Attendance Allowance but available to those under state pension age.
  • Carer’s Allowance may be payable to anyone – for example a family member or friend – involved in caring for your relative on an unpaid basis for over 35 hours a week.


  • Residential care

If a care home is the only option for your relative – for example because your relative is either terminally ill or has a long-term condition as a result of a disability, accident or illness – the NHS will arrange care under their continuing healthcare scheme (NHS CHC). If your relative is eligible for NHS CHC, their care home placement will be free. 

Otherwise, your relative will need to meet some or all care home fees themselves. But if they do not have the funds to do this, they may be eligible for financial support. The local council will work out the overall cost of their care, and look at your relative’s assets (such as property) and savings. They will then create a “personal budget” of how the cost of their care will be split between the council and your relative’s own finances.

However, there are also financial thresholds for an individual’s assets and savings that are taken into consideration when creating the personal budget:


  • Below £20,000. If your relative’s assets and savings are below £20,000, they will be state funded and no money will be taken from their assets or savings. However, they may still need to contribute some of their regular income towards care costs.
  • Between £20,000 and £100,000. Your relative will have a personal budget as mentioned above, and costs will be shared between state funding and their own assets or savings, up to a limit of 20% of their assets per year.
  • £100,000 and above. Care will be self-funded until either assets drop below £100,000 or – from October 2025 – they have spent £86,000 on care. £86,000 is the amount of a new care cost cap being introduced in October 2025 in the UK, which will mean that no-one will need to spend more than £86,000 in their lifetime on personal care – even if they have significant assets, and are self-funding their care.


Personal care includes residential care, nursing care and support with areas such as washing, dressing, preparing and eating meals, and managing health problems. However, it does not include accommodation, food, energy bills, or any other lifestyle and wellbeing items.

The £86,000 care cost cap will be based on contributions to care from October 2025 : nothing paid before then will count towards the cap.


We hope that the information in this article helps you to make the best decision if you are in the situation where a relative needs care. If you need any additional funds during the early stages of the care process, bear in mind that Munzee offers online loans that may be able to help.

Check back here soon for more lifestyle and financial tips from Munzee Loans.