Ten top tips for negotiating lower care home fees
Placing a loved one, or indeed yourself, into care can be one of the most difficult and costly things you have to do.
Not only is it one of the biggest purchases you are likely to make, the minefield of information you are expected to deal with can also be bewildering.
Growing numbers of people are now funding their own care here in the UK and this number is expected to rise.
Unfortunately, the weekly cost of the average care home can more than exceed £500 per week, and with the average life expectancy steadily increasing, the bill soon racks up.
But unbeknown to many, there are ways to negotiate a lower cost.
Councils and local authorities already negotiate the cost of care homes, but private self-funders can also try with a little bit of homework.
The key, says the founder of the Valuing Care Fees calculator, Ray Hart, is to understand exactly what the fees cover, and then decide what is needed and how much you are willing to fork out for it.
Hart says things like the location of the care home, type of care (round-the-clock care?), the style and quality of the home, the extras like music nights and summer BBQs will all be a factor in just how much you will pay.
If you have found a care home that meets your or your loved one’s needs, follow these tips to negotiate the weekly fees down…
1. Identify the expected price range
Understand the price range for the area in which you are searching. Free care comparator tools such as Valuing Care Fees Calculator can help.
Care home providers vary widely, from small independent family run ventures, to larger national organisations. Often the larger national chains have better facilities and offer a wider range of services, and the smaller homes tend not to – this will be reflected in the price.
2. Be clear on your requirements
Before negotiating determine your exact needs such as the level and type of care, and the facilities required.
If you need just the basic level of care, it may pay to look at the smaller care homes to try and negotiate a lower price.
3. Be clear on the price
Know what price you are prepared to pay for your individual requirements. Hart highlights that even negotiating £50 off a week will have a serious impact on your finances over a yearly period.
4. Speak with the right person
Ask to speak to the care home manager; this the person who can make financial decisions.
5. Stay calm and focussed
Be clear on what it is you want, and for what price. Hart suggests that you ask for the care home to justify the prices it wants to charge, so that you get a better understanding of just where the most costly aspect of the fee lies.
6. Stay friendly
Be chatty, and friendly. It should be a positive discussion for both parties. Ask as many questions as you need to, and don’t feel intimidated. Brits are notoriously bad at being able to talk openly about money matters, but you shouldn’t let this get in the way as it could quite literally be the difference of thousands of pounds and a good, comfortable care home.
7. Consider the alternatives
If price isn’t negotiable, consider added value for the same fee such as a larger room or extra care and support.
8. Don’t take it personally
Although finding a care home for a loved one is an emotional decision, don’t take negotiations personally if they don’t materialise in the way envisaged.
9. Keep your options open
If you don’t get value for money from one provider, approach other suitable homes that meet your requirements. Remember that location and demand helps bump up prices, so choosing a care home somewhere else might work in your favour.
10. Enrol the experts
If you’re unsuccessful with negotiations, or prefer to assign the task to a professional, contact a care fees specialist who will manage the process on your behalf.