Health

'Fantastic' care calculator launched by BBC

Older person's hand Image copyright Thinkstock

The BBC has been praised for launching a "fantastic" online guide to the care system for the over-65s.

The "care calculator" covers both residential care and the support provided in people's own homes.

Users can submit their postcode and find out how much each service costs wherever they live in the UK.

Care Minister Norman Lamb said it was a great example of "public sector broadcasting", while users praised they way it explained the system.

The gudie also gives details about how the systems differ in the four nations - since devolution, the way services are organised has diverged.


BBC cost of care project


The ageing population means there is an increasing focus on care services - and how they link up with the NHS.

About 420,000 people live in care homes across the UK, while another 1m get help in their own home.

Some people pay for all their care, while others get help from their local councils towards their fees.

There are another 1.5 million people who rely on friends and family for support.The guide has been compiled using information from analysts LaingBuisson, councils and through the Freedom of Information Act.

It shows how care costs can vary - in Barnsley the average sum paid for a care home place is £399.13 a week, for example, while in the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea costs top £1,000.

Users in England are also able to get an estimate of how much they may have to pay before their care costs are capped under a reform due to be introduced in April 2016.

How UK care fees compare

420,000

people live in care homes

1 in 3

pay for themselves

  • £574 avg weekly fee in England

  • £513 avg weekly fee in Wales

  • £510 avg weekly fee in Scotland

  • £492 avg weekly fee in N Ireland

GETTY IMAGES

Elsewhere in the UK, the guide provides information about local fees - and what elements of the system are free.

In Scotland, personal care is free, while in Northern Ireland many do not have to pay for home care. In Wales, help at home is capped at £55 a week.

Norman Lamb, England's care minister, said: "This calculator is a fantastic resource.

"It gives you lots of great information and is what public sector broadcasting is all about. I'm really impressed."

Janet Morrison, chief executive of the Independent Age charity, said: "Working out what to pay for care is a complex business and is often approached at a strained and emotional point in people's lives.

"Anything that makes this process simpler to plan, understand and navigate is applauded."

Caroline Abrahams, of Age UK, added: "The BBC's care cap calculator is a useful tool that brings some clarity to a complicated system."

The guide has also been well received by the public. One BBC website user in Rome emailed the BBC to say: "Many thanks for this very useful tool. I am following the care of my elderly mother who lives at home in Surrey and found the tool very informative and useful."

While a twitter user said: "Such an important policy issue and what a great resource."

The launch of the calculator has also prompted wide-ranging debate and comments on social media about the care system. One Facebook user described how an elderly neighbour was helped by people living locally, meaning she only needed professional help just before she died at the age of 89.

"The cost was negligible to the taxpayer compared to what it would have cost if all the neighbour's had ignored her. Surely we all owe it to our friends and neighbour's to do our bit?"