A guide to funding residential and nursing care in the UK

Funding residential care in the UK can be complex and daunting for first timers, due to various factors, including financial considerations, eligibility criteria, and navigating the healthcare system.

Our guide to funding hopes to offer guidance and advice on the key considerations to be taken into account and provide useful links for further reading.  We are also on hand to help answer any questions via email huntington@hlestate.co.uk or phone 01428 604600

What are the 4 main funding options for residential care?

A move into residential care in the UK can be a significant financial commitment, however there are various options available to help cover the costs.  Whether you’re arranging care for yourself or a loved one, understanding the funding options is essential for making informed decisions.

Dementia Tailored Activities

Here’s a comprehensive guide to the different funding options for residential and nursing care in the UK, including self-funding, NHS Continuing Healthcare funding, and NHS Funded Nursing Care.

Self-funding

Is the most straightforward option if you have sufficient savings, assets, or income, to pay for your care privately. That said, before starting to arrange a move into residential care, it’s essential to assess your financial situation accurately, especially if you’re planning for long-term care.

It is advisable to seek independent financial advice to help manage your assets effectively and plan for future care costs, taking into consideration your savings, investments, pension, property, and any other assets you may have.

Local Authority/Council funding

Is a means tested option for funding some or most of the care home fees based on having capital assets between £14,250 and £23,250. There is also the option of a deferred payment scheme, whereby the council pays for the care home and it is repaid later from the sale of a home or from an estate. Anyone with savings of over £23,250 won’t be eligible for council funding (rising to £100,000 in October 2025 and the lower tier to £20,000).

The council must ensure that the overall cost figure it calculates, called the ‘personal budget’, is high enough to meet the cost of at least one suitable care home.  Based on a care needs assessment if the conclusion is care in a care home is required, a means test will work out the level of support on the costs given and what an individual needs to contribute.

NHS Continuing Healthcare (CHC) Funding

Is available for individuals with complex health needs who require ongoing care. This funding covers the full cost of care, including accommodation, for those eligible. To determine eligibility for NHS CHC funding, individuals undergo a thorough assessment of their care needs by a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals. It is important to note that any funding is based on the individual’s primary health needs rather than their financial situation.

The assessment considers the following factors to determine eligibility for NHS CHC:

  • Nature of needs: The primary consideration is the nature and complexity of the individual’s healthcare needs. This includes assessing the level of support required for tasks such as mobility, communication, nutrition, and continence.
  • Intensity of needs: Taking into account factors such as the frequency and duration of interventions required to manage their condition.
  • Complexity of needs: Including any underlying medical conditions or cognitive impairments, is considered. This may involve assessing the need for specialist medical interventions or ongoing monitoring.
  • Unpredictability of needs: Including the risk of acute deterioration or sudden changes in health status that require immediate intervention.
  • Evidence-Based Decision: Gathered from various sources, including medical records, care assessments, and input from healthcare professionals and caregivers.
  • Decision-Making Process: Following the assessment, a decision is made by the multidisciplinary team regarding the individual’s eligibility for NHS CHC. If eligible, the NHS will fully fund the individual’s care needs, including accommodation costs if they are in a care home setting.

If you believe you or your loved one may be eligible for NHS CHC funding, you can request an assessment from your local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) or healthcare provider.

Meaningful Moments

NHS Funded Nursing Care (FNC)

Is a contribution towards the nursing care costs for individuals who require nursing care in a care home.

The current standard rate for NHS FNC is set by the government as £235.88 per week (standard rate) and is paid directly to the care home to contribute towards the cost of nursing care provided. Eligibility for NHS FNC is assessed as part of the overall assessment for NHS Continuing Healthcare.

The criteria for NHS FNC eligibility include:

  • Need for Nursing Care: The individual must have been assessed as needing nursing care, typically provided by a registered nurse. This may include tasks such as administering medication, wound care, and other clinical interventions.
  • Living in a Care Home: To be eligible the individual must be living in a care home registered to provide nursing care. This ensures that the funding is used to support the costs associated with nursing care provision.
  • Assessment Process: Eligibility is typically assessed as part of the overall assessment for NHS CHC as described above.
  • Funding Contribution: If eligible, the NHS will make a standard contribution towards the individual’s nursing care costs, which is paid directly to the care home.

If an individual is not eligible for NHS CHC but requires nursing care, they may still be eligible for NHS FNC.

What are the personal financial and legal considerations for funding residential care

Everyone’s personal financial and legal situation is different with considerations such as estate planning, power of attorney arrangements, and tax implications.

Understanding these factors, by seeking appropriate legal and financial advice is crucial for making informed decisions.  These professional are also able to provide guidance on which funding option applies to your situation.

When looking for fund support, this will involve a detailed financial assessment of the individuals personal circumstances including savings, assets, income, and property ownership. There are quite complex rules surrounding financial assessments, which is why it is good to get assistance to understand how assets will be treated in the process.

Here are five key rules surrounding financial assessments, to be aware of:

  1. Treatment of Savings and Investments – The value of savings and investments above a certain threshold (known as the capital limit) may be taken into account when determining an individual’s contribution to care costs. The current capital limit for England is £23,250 (as of April 2022). Individuals with savings and investments above this threshold may be required to pay for their care in full or contribute towards the cost.
  2. Treatment of Property – In England, if an individual owns their own home and moves into residential care, the value of the property may be included in the assessment. However, there are certain exemptions and disregards that may apply, such as if a spouse or dependent relative continues to live in the property or if the property is deemed to be disregarded for certain reasons (e.g., it is still occupied by a carer).
  3. Income Considerations – Income, including pensions, benefits, and any other regular payments, are considered. Income above a certain threshold may be used to contribute towards the cost of care. However, individuals are entitled to keep a certain amount of their income as a personal expense allowance (PEA), currently at least £28.25 per week.
  4. Treatment of Trusts and Gifts – If an individual has transferred assets into a trust or given away assets within a certain timeframe before needing residential care, this may be subject to scrutiny as part of the assessment. Local authorities have the authority to investigate and potentially deem such transfers as deliberate deprivation of assets, which could affect the individual’s eligibility for financial support.
  5. Deprivation of Assets Rules – These rules are in place to prevent individuals from deliberately reducing their assets to avoid paying for residential care. If it’s determined that an individual has deliberately deprived themselves of assets to avoid paying for care, the local authority may still take those assets into account in the financial assessment. Deliberate deprivation of assets can include actions such as transferring assets into someone else’s name or giving away assets without receiving adequate compensation in return.

We recommend families receive independent advice from financial advisors and legal experts, who can provide up to date guidance on how assets are treated in the assessment process and help them understand their options for funding care.  They can also provide information on Care Fees Annuities (or Immediate Needs Annuities, as they’re sometimes called), designed to cover the shortfall between your income and the cost of your care for the rest of your life. The income is tax-free and paid directly to the care provider.

Additional tips when funding a move into residential care:

It is important to research the variations in the costs by different care providers

The cost of residential care can vary significantly depending on factors such as location, the level of care needed, facilities provided, and the type of care home chosen.

There is also the differing pricing models to consider, from the full transparent all inclusive fee approach we favour, to the base cost plus paid by hour model of some of the larger chains, it is important to understand these cost variations, so not to be surprised by steep increases as an individuals care needs increase over time.

Delicious Meals At H&L Estate

At the Huntington and Langham Estate, we are consciously not the lowest cost provider of Residential, Nursing and Dementia care in Hindhead, but we are transparent with no hidden extras from day one.  This is because we are confident that our level of care exceeds that of other providers, with a higher ratio of flexibility and time provided to residents living in our care based on their needs not our schedule.

Do your homework and understand the application and assessment processes.

Applying for a place and the funding for residential care often involves navigating complex application processes, including completing forms, providing documentation, and undergoing assessments.

We often have families come to us for the first time hoping to place a relative within a couple of days, but there are strict rules from the care quality commission in place, which we need to follow to complete a care assessment before new residents can move in.

“Having never been involved in having to sort out any care home facilities before it was a very steep learning curve. I naively thought that respite care, for my weekend away, could be organised very quickly, but soon learned that it isn’t the case” Husband of Langham Court Resident,     

Read more about his experience

When seeking funding from a 3rd party, this can also take time and individuals and/or their families may need guidance to ensure they submit accurate and complete applications to maximize their chances of receiving funding.

Keep up to date with changes in regulations relating to care funding.

Regulations surrounding funding for residential care can change over time, impacting eligibility criteria, funding rates, and application procedures. For example the care cap of £86,000 due to come into force in October 2023 has since been delayed to 2025.

Staying informed about these changes and understanding how they may affect funding options is essential for individuals and families navigating the care system.

Sources of information include:

Don’t underestimate the emotional and practical impact.

Funding residential care often involves emotional and practical considerations for individuals and their families, such as coping with the transition to care, choosing a suitable care home, and ensuring the quality of care provided. Balancing these considerations with financial constraints and funding options can add complexity to the decision-making process.

Long-term care planning is essential for ensuring that you or your loved one receives the appropriate care without financial strain. Start planning as early as possible to explore all available options and make informed decisions.

The Paddock

We have lots of useful advice and information available on our website latest news pages from the team and families of residents who will have experienced the same journey.

Click Here to Download the Guide to Funding 

Sensory Trail supporting Dementia Action Week

In support of Dementia Action Week 2024, The Huntington & Langham Estate are opening their grounds for a Sensory Trail on Saturday 18th May from 10am to 4pm. The trail consists of nearly a kilometre of wheelchair-accessible gravel paths through grazing fields of sheep and horses and wildlife-rich woodland.

Along the trail there will be garden-related memorabilia to spot and handmade crafts to catch your eye while listening out for the sounds of the various avian visitors to the Estate, including the tapping of a hungry woodpecker and the screech of a soaring buzzard.

Dementia Action Week

The trail will take you to the lakeside pavilion or the covered picnic benches outside the Shepherd’s Hub tearoom where you are welcome to sit for a while. There will be hot and cold drinks available from the Sherpherd’s Hub for a small donation to Alzheimer’s Society, and you are welcome to bring your own picnic if you wish.

In the morning, between 10am to 12noon there will also be opportunities to take part in some dementia-friendly and family-friendly activities, including mindfulness moments with Kat from Creating Kinder Kids, gentle walking exercise sessions with Jo from STOMP Fitness, and rides around the Estate on the Cycling Without Age electric-assisted tricycle. And in the afternoon, there will be trips available in the Estate’s own adapted electric buggies.

No need to book, just turn up on the day and enjoy the Estate.

Unlocking the potential of people living with Dementia

Looking forwards into May we are putting the final plans in place for Dementia Action Week, which this year runs from 13th to 19th May.  Collaborating with our local community in Grayshott, we will be raising awareness of how people can act on Dementia and widen the support for families living with Dementia across the area.

Specialist Dementia Care at Langham Court

Every year we support many families work through their journey when the time comes to decide if it is right for a loved one to move into a care home.  We see our role as being a trusted advisor, sharing information, advice and the benefits others in their position have experienced following a relative or friend living with Dementia make the move into Langham Court.

Langham Court

Why are we so good at caring for people living with Dementia?

Whilst we find people often come to live at Langham Court in the middle to later stage of their Dementia journey or when someone has specialist needs, our person-centred Butterfly approach enables us to support people at an earlier stage of Dementia, unlocking their potential and drawing out some of the skills, emotions and memories which the disease is taking from them.

We care for the person as they are now and also have respect for and interest in the person they have been throughout their life. Using our person-centred care approach, the team will discover what music preferences residents may have had, what people’s hobbies have been, their favourite books and how they lived their lives before Dementia. We’ll get a strong holistic view of them as a person and will honour that person in how we communicate with and care for them.

Our homemakers take a vital role in this, arranging activities each day which are open to residents to participate in (or not). We are experts at creating meaningful moments for everyone in our care each day, however small that may be.  We are proud to offer unlimited care and are not governed by tiers of available care time per person like other homes.  Read more about the ro our Homemakers 

We know that people with Dementia can live well and benefit from our specialist support and interaction throughout the day, when they need us or are ready to engage with us. We are, of course, also able to care for people with Dementia when they need high-dependency support or nursing and our household living model is perfect to manage this within Langham Court.

Harnessing the power of creativity

Over the years, we’ve seen that music can unlock the potential and abilities of people with Dementia. It’s a really effective tool for meaningful moments.

When we know a resident’s musical preferences as part of knowing and understanding them, it’s beneficial for reminiscence activities which enhance their sense of identity.  The Homemakers will often organise a theme day such as our recent 60’s day at Langham Court.

Music vibes

We know that music also stimulates physical health, influencing movement and heart rate. The social interaction accompanying the music is essential to reconnecting residents with others and leading to a sense of joy and togetherness. Quite often, we get glimpses of a resident how they would have been decades ago. It’s a pleasure to behold.

Music and dance can have a profound benefit for residents with Dementia, with previously sedentary people getting up and dancing or singing the lyrics to songs when generally they find it hard to communicate.

Dance At Langham Court

Other activities available at Langham Court include our Gardening Club and Art Classes, as well as shared reading of well-known short stories or poetry, which we find can also unlock emotions (joy, excitement or sadness), creating shared connections and new forms of engagement.

Dementia Tailored Activities

Families enjoy visiting our residents.

Offering all inclusive care for us goes beyond just supporting a resident living with Dementia with their personal needs each day, our holistic approach focused on creating meaningful moments also extends to the family and friends who come to visit.

Families often tell us that they enjoy being able to spend quality time with their loved ones when they come to visit Langham Court, safe in the knowledge their medical and personal needs are well catered for, they can focus on the moment and create meaningful interactions whilst they and their loved ones are both relaxed.

For some that may include a walk around the Estate (we have wheelchair accessible paths or our golf buggy for those who struggle with mobility), have grandchildren help with the raised beds around the terraces, or simply take afternoon tea together in one of the residents lounges.

Meaningful Moments

The knowledge that so many families get inspiration and comfort from seeing some of the positive behavioural and emotional changes which are evident in their loved one since they moved in with us, is all the motivation we need to continue to enhance the specialist dementia care we offer at Langham Court.

At the Huntington & Langham Estate, we provide dignified, compassionate and personalised care to our residents, giving them the nurturing support they need to continue living full, independent and meaningful lives.

To arrange a visit to the Estate and tour our homes and grounds, please call 01428 604 600 or complete this form.

Flower power at our Dementia care home

We often associate dementia with memory loss, but it can be the loss of confidence that comes with the symptoms of dementia that has the biggest impact on people. Having to be reminded of your own children’s names, realising you are repeating yourself, and needing support with daily life can have a huge knock-on effect to your self-worth.

However, we use empowerment to re-establish people’s sense of purpose. At Langham Court we tap into the skills of the people living and working there to ensure everyone has the opportunity to contribute to their community.

One of our carers happens to also be a florist, so rather than simply buying a bouquet for someone’s birthday or to welcome a new resident, she will bring in flowers for people to arrange for the same purpose, making the gift of giving even more special for all.

Flower Power

Seeing the fruits of their labour being enjoyed and appreciated by others helps these budding florists to feel appreciated.

Managing Director, Charlie Hoare, says “When we first opened Langham Court, one resident commented that it was wonderful to feel of some use, and it has really stayed with me and remains at the heart of what we do”. Langham Court uses a care model called The Butterfly Approach to embed this into our care culture,

You can find more information about the butterfly approach here

Excellent Care in Beautiful Countryside

Turn onto Huntington Drive and wind your way along the shady tree-lined track you’ll experience a sense of calm and well-being like no other as you drive along and the wooded track opens onto 30 acres of the most beautiful Surrey countryside.

The H&L Estate Drive

Country living in Residential Care

With residents coming from their own homes in the countryside or having moved to the country for residential care leaving London and the surrounding boroughs, The Huntington and Langham Estate is a home away from home.

With wide open spaces and accessible grounds, all set in our picture-perfect Estate, it’s no wonder that many of our residents report moving in with us as being a lifestyle choice, as well as the best care decision they could make.

Charlie Hoare MD, explains ” We often get residents choosing the Estate primarily on the location and surroundings.  One gentleman – a former racehorse trainer – was living with Dementia. His family had been to a number of local homes, but what clinched the decision to move to the estate for him and his family was that he could sit on the terrace and look out at our paddocks.  On his first visit to us, as he watched our horses and ponies, he became animated as he talked to our team and shared memories of his working life”.

The Paddock

Acres of space to enjoy.

Being situated within towns, many care homes have limited outdoor space for residents to utilise, as they place a premium on including additional rooms and parking. That’s not an issue for us. We have 30 acres of prime countryside to delight and entice you into the fresh air!

Our Estate is wheelchair accessible with pathways throughout the woods, out to our lake and Shepherd’s Hut, where morning coffee or afternoon tea can be taken. When your family and friends come to visit, you can take them to meet ponies, sheep and other wildlife.  This is a big hit with residents’ grandchildren.

Accessible Pathways around the Estate

In the summer months, groups of residents often sit under the pergola by the lake to have afternoon tea. If you can’t get there under your own steam, our Estate golf buggy will take you there. In the winter, the south-facing terraces of both homes offer a place to sit bundled up cosy and warm on dry days, watching the beauty of our surroundings as the seasons change.

Alfresco dining whatever the season

A fabulous place to work

Our team also love working in such beautiful surroundings. They say that being able to take breaks and lunchtime walks together and with residents is a total joy and fantastic for their mental health.

“If you only want the best care for your loved one, go here! Truly worth a visit for you to experience the incredible culture and special way in which they care for your family member, every day. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Huntington & Langham to anyone who is looking at residential care options for general needs, more complex needs and also dementia needs. Beautiful homes, beautiful grounds, beautiful people” Steph Gentle former team member

The power of nature

Year-round, there are a myriad of health benefits for older adults spending time outdoors with sunlight and vitamin D vital for physical and mental health.

Outdoor activity and movement are excellent for preserving muscle mass and improving immunity and balance. Research has shown that going outdoors has similar effects to meditation and can positively influence energy levels and memory, reduce feelings of depression and anxiety and boost mood.

We encourage all our residents to take an active part in the Estate, continuing hobbies they enjoyed at home like gardening, exercising, relaxing in the fresh air or even helping out with feeding our Hens!

Outdoor hobbies

Our acres of beautiful grounds are a massive draw to residents and their families; the cherry on the cake is the outstanding care and love that every resident receives.

At the Huntington & Langham Estate, we provide luxury care across our two specialist care homes. Family-owned and run, we offer dignified, compassionate and personalised care to our residents, giving them the nurturing support they need to continue living full, independent and meaningful lives. We are Butterfly and Dragonfly accredited.

To arrange a visit to the Estate and tour our homes and grounds, please call 01428 604 600 or complete this form.

Staying together in Residential Care

Growing older with the person you love is a privilege, but it can also come with challenges.

We all age at a different pace, with the odd ache and pain.  But, as time moves on, quite often we have more serious complaints, such as living with Dementia or limited mobility, and the partner with fewer needs takes on a caring role.

As the sands of time gently fall and both partners’ needs gently increase, it is not unusual for the person taking on the role of “carer” to start to feel the pressure of their added responsibilities.  Eventually, they or their family may decide that they can’t continue in this role.

Similarly, the partner with additional needs can increasingly feel a burden on their loved one, and the dynamics of their relationship change.  It is hard not to feel terribly guilty when, after many years together supporting each other in life’s ups and downs, managing health issues takes over the weekly routine.

For many couples in later life, there will come a time when the situation becomes too much to sustain care at home and there is no other choice than for one to move into a residential care home.

For the partner, remaining at home is a tough decision to make. It has added resonance when they feel that it is their “fault” that their loved one may have to move out of a house they may have lived in for decades because they are not able to look after them. And it means they will no longer be living together, which is terribly upsetting.

If only they could move in somewhere together…… but that’s not possible, is it?

Move into Huntington House with your partner.

It’s a common misconception that you need to move into a care home alone.   You don’t!  At the Huntington & Langham Estate, we love to welcome couples to our specialist care homes.

Moving into one of our homes with a partner takes a tremendous amount of pressure off the person who has previously had caring responsibilities.  They can then relax and enjoy being with their loved ones without having to care for them.

Couples moving in together very quickly settle into their new environment.  The couple can enjoy the atmosphere, activities and opportunities of living with us, safe in the knowledge that their care will be top-notch.

Where the couple are sharing a room we offer a 50% reduction on one persons fees, or if they have separate rooms we offer a 10% discounted rate whilst the couple remain together in the home.

Where possible, couples can join in outings and activities together, spending time in the grounds together and sharing delicious meals together too.

Moving in with your life partner offers enormous benefits to emotional well-being for both people.  Nobody is left at home feeling lonely, and a huge amount of familiarity and love are immediately available within the home.

Our person-centred care approach means both residents will have individual care plans which will be combined and adapted to suit the couple.

 … even if one of you is living with Dementia.

With our specialist care home dedicated to creating a meaningful life for those living with Dementia, situated alongside our Residential home, we can offer residential care for all needs.   We can support people living with Dementia at Langham Court, with residential care for the other partner a short walk away at Huntington House.

Enjoy a new phase of life together.

Before moving in with us, one of our residents spent some time caring for his wife, who was a wheelchair user.  Eventually, he needed nursing care and was no longer able to look after her.  Their family agreed that it would be good for them to move in together, in separate rooms, so they could have their own space reflecting their care needs.

They both settled in quickly, with the wife enjoying the ability to access the terrace from her room, spending time outdoors in the fresh air, admiring the view over the estate and being able to wheel herself to spend time with her husband in his room across the hall to do the crossword together every day.

With access to the lounge and restaurant at Huntington House, she’s made friends with other residents and has joined in with outings, safe in the knowledge that her husband is being so well cared for and is safe and happy.

“I’ve been here since December.  They’ve been very accommodating with my husband and I being in rooms across the hallway from each other.  They even replanted a cherry tree from our previous garden we had planted to remember our son who died. They’ve been so good and kind,” said Mrs R..

Staying together in care can be the right choice for many couples – whatever their age and level of care needed.

At the Huntington & Langham Estate, we provide luxury care across our two specialist care homes.

Family-owned and run, we offer dignified, compassionate and personalised care to our residents, giving them the nurturing support they need to continue living full, independent and meaningful lives.

To arrange a visit to the Estate and tour our homes and grounds, please call 01428 604 600 or complete our contact form:

Visit The Estate

 

 

Huntington and Langham Estate awarded highest level of independent accreditation.

Each year the Huntington & Langham Estate is independently audited to ensure we are providing care to the highest possible standard.

The most recent audit, undertaken yearly by a company called Meaningful Care Matters, took place at the end of last year, and after scrutinising everything from the homeliness of the environment and atmosphere to the amount and types of medication prescribed as well as the job satisfaction of the staff, the results are finally in.

Both care homes have been successfully re-accredited by Meaningful Care Matters with 10 levels in total, but only Levels 1-3 are given the prestigious accreditation accolade.

Huntington House achieving Level 1 Outstanding service with a model of care, which provides a meaningful engagement experience where people who access the service and who work at the service are ‘Free to be Me’. The environment is congruent with the model of care and represents the story and individual expressions of not only the people who utilize the service but reflects the identity of the organisation also.

Langham Court being awarded a Level 2 Excellent with a highly engaged service and high value on meaningful moments and a true person-centred philosophy, which is congruent in look, sound and feel as well as congruent with regulatory compliance requirements and the organisational mission vision and values. People’s individuality and expression is evident and on the most part people can express that freedom and be themselves. Some improvement opportunities are identified which would support greater expressions of meaningful moments and freedom.

Meaningful Care Matters focuses on the development of resilient relationship-centred cultures of care shaped by the people living and working within them where both ‘caregivers’ and recipients of care can flourish.

The reports for both homes state that accreditation has been achieved by providing evidence of a highly engaged service where people’s individuality and expression are evident, and people can express freedom and be themselves.

The report also provides areas for further improvement, and Charlie Hoare, Managing Director of The Huntington & Langham Estate, says “all credit to the team, as the audits are tough, but the feedback is invaluable. Not many care homes put themselves through it, but I think all should strive for the accreditation”.

For more information, please call the estate on 01428604600.

Respite stays may not work miracles but they can work wonders

Charlie Hoare, the Managing Director of The Huntington & Langham Estate recently gave a presentation about the benefits of respite care at the Rare Dementia Support carers’ meeting, based on our experience of supporting families who have also been supported by Rare Dementia Support.

Growing up in a residential care home

Like a lot of things in life, people have different perceptions when it comes to care homes. I happen to have a very positive association with care homes.
I grew up in a care home, spending the first 10 years of my life living on the top floor of Huntington House, our original care home on the Huntington and Langham Estate.
Even after that, I only lived a stone’s throw away in the original Estate lodge house to the main building. Close enough, in fact, that when I was home from boarding school for the summer holidays, one of the residents would make sure I wasn’t sleeping in too long by rattling his walking stick in the cat flap on his morning stroll and shouting to me and my sister that it was time to get up.

Despite these rude awakenings, or potentially because of them, I associate care homes with a feeling of homeliness, family-like connections, and even a sense of fun!

Feelings of mixed emotions when considering a move into a care home It is natural for anyone considering a move, to have mixed feelings about care homes, especially if they’ve have not yet had the opportunity to take a tour of a local home.

The most common emotions for carers researching their options are ones of hope mixed with an equal measure of guilt perhaps. Hope that there might be a place with a team of people who can offer the care that you’re finding impossible or at least very difficult to provide on your own at home and the guilt that comes from feeling that you should continue to manage on your own.

The impact of media headlines

It is not surprising given some of the headlines we’re exposed to, particularly during Covid-19, that people are fearful of care home, with stories of poor treatment, leading some people to be staunchly opposed to the idea of moving their loved one into a care home.

Sadly these situations do exist in some homes which is why the Care Quality Commission acting as a regulator is so important and even though we have a good CQC rating, we go beyond this and are independently audited by Meaningful Care Matters as Butterfly and Dragon fly homes.

When there is no option but to organise a move into a care home, I recommend to families to be careful about how they communicate some of these negative perceptions and the impact they may have if/when our loved ones makes the transition to a care home.

Changing perceptions at the School gate

I recently met a mum at my kids school, with a child in the same class as mine, who was talking to me about care homes recently. She asked if it was normal to be totally averse to her Mum going into a care home, even though her Dad was no longer able to look after her at home any more.

I asked why she was so averse to her mum making the move, and it turned out that she had volunteered at a care home when she was younger and had been horrified by how people in the home had been left for long periods, sometime hours, without anything to do, and she couldn’t possibly subject her beloved Mum to a future of the same.

Whilst this was an experience approximately 20 years ago, at one particular care home, it was enough to influence the family’s decision to postpone mum’s moving into any care home, even for respite care, despite the struggles of her dad.

I kept touching base with her occasionally at the school gates to see how they were getting on, and fast forward a few months, and her Mum had sadly had a fall at home and was now in hospital with a broken hip.

A week later she had been discharged to a care home along the Discharge to Assess Pathway, which is basically when a hospital has an agreement with a local care home to discharge people straight from hospital when they are medically fit, before they are then assessed as to whether they will go back home – with or without home care – or move to another more suitable or preferred care home.

After months of deliberation, the family had had little or no choice where their loved one’s first experience of a care home was, and they had the complication of settling into a new environment while also recovering from the trauma and surgery of the broken hip.

Transitioning into permanent care through a respite stay

This example is fairly representative of the reality of transitioning straight into permanent care for many, when a transition occurs in a crisis or an emergency situation that dramatically reduces the time we might have to choose the right care home, and prevents any opportunity for a trial run via a respite stay.

Transitions to care homes can be unsettling and disorientating at the best of times, even during respite stays. Some people are content from the start, some piece together the environment to fit a familiar place to them; a previous house, halls of residence, military accommodation, and settle in quickly. Others, however, are aware they are somewhere unfamiliar and struggle to make sense of it, and it can take longer for them to settle.

This is one of the benefits of respite stays. You will get to know how your loved one reacts to the care home environment, and what you might be able to try next time to make it easier. You then get the opportunity to reset and try again when the time is right.

The wider benefits of respite stays

Respite stays can help you ascertain whether the care home is right for other reasons. Is it easy to visit, and does it fit with your lifestyle, as well as meet the needs of your loved one?

Is your loved one going to be anxious about leaving the building for a walk or trip out? If so, are there areas of the home or grounds you can use instead.

Are there other people living in the care home that your loved one can form a social connection with? If not, can this need be met by a team member who they get on particularly well with.

During a respite stay you will likely find out information that you would not necessarily know from a brochure or show round.

A chance to spend quality time together with a loved one

Perhaps most importantly respite stays can help you maintain your core relationship with your loved one. You can use the time they are in a care home for quality time together rather than task-based interactions when you are having to do things for them rather than with them.

A couple of examples of this that have stuck in my mind…

One husband, whose wife stayed with us, used his time at home to create music playlists for his next visits. He and his wife used to love listening to music together, going to concerts, and dancing around the kitchen together. And for about half an hour almost every day when he visited, all the way into the later stages of her dementia, he would crank up the volume and would take her hands and transport them both back to those moments.

We had another person’s son who went away for work a lot, so his Dad would come in for periods of respite while he was away. When the son got back, usually a few days before the respite ended so he could unpack and do a food shop before his Dad returned home, he would come in for an hour or two each day and read his Dad The Jungle Book, which was his favourite book that his Dad had read to him in his childhood.

Many people may be concerned that you might miss being your loved one’s carer. Respite stays will give you a chance to work alongside the care team and continue being involved in certain aspects of care. And work out how you feel about the transition.

What you need to know about arranging a Respite stay

After saying all that, it can often be tricky to arrange respite care.

  • No availability – Some care homes may be limited by availability, they may be full with people staying on a permanent basis. In this care, you could ask if they run a waiting list so that you are contacted when a room becomes available.
  • No advanced booking – Other care homes may offer respite stays but may only take bookings a certain period in advance, and not be able to confirm availability until nearer the time.
  • Minimum stay – Most care homes will have a minimum respite stay, usually around 2 weeks. This is mainly due to the workload associated with an admission. So, if you become a regular user of respite stays it may be worth trying to negotiate this with the care home.
  • Respite retainer – I have heard of a care home offering a respite retainer whereby you purchase a block of respite and take it in weekly or fortnightly increments when availability allows.
  • Respite timeshare – I have also heard of a care home that have built a number of rooms just for respite. I assume this will be offered on a kind of timeshare basis, whereby you book a certain week or fortnight each year or every few months.
  • Funding – You may be entitled to FNC (Funded Nursing Care) payments for respite stays. £219.71 per week. Your local council may also fund respite stays based on financial and needs assessments.

Respite options are increasing as it is becoming more apparent that it is helpful for transitioning people into permanent care.

A final thought

I believe most of the barriers to respite care occur around the timing of people’s transitions to care homes; it’s not always an option if it’s left too late.
Remember…respite stays can’t work miracles but they can work wonders.

Please do get in touch if I can be of help with your care transition planning or if you would like to arrange a visit to the estate.

Visit The Estate

A first hand account of organising Respite Dementia Care

At Langham Court, we are not just there to support people living with Dementia, we understand the challenges involved in arranging a move into a care home and offer advice and support to the families of prospective residents.

MD of Langham Court, Charlie Hoare recently spoke with the husband of a new respite resident in Langham Court to learn about his journey as a first time carer organising a respite stay for his wife.

Can you share the background to your wife’s Dementia diagnosis

“When my wife was diagnosed in 2019 with a rare dementia called behavioural variant Fronto Temporal Dementia or FTD as it is often described as, our lives were turned upside down and inside out in an instant.

We live in a traditional family home and we’re not set up to deal with the demands that this dementia diagnosis demands of the near relatives.”

What led you to consider a respite stay in a care home for your wife?

“As the disease was progressing rapidly and I was having to deal with more personal care issues throughout the night, as my wife’s sleep pattern was non-existent, it often resulted in me only having a couple of hours sleep. This isn’t ideal as I was the main carer for my wife and there was the real fear of me becoming a victim to carer burnout.

Along with an indicated short prognosis, and in consultation with various healthcare professionals from Adult Care Services, the GP and the NHS, it was decided that I needed respite from caring.”

What were the challenges of arranging respite care?

“I found sourcing the respite care presented its own set of complications as we were looking for a care home that was able to look after her very specific needs and furthermore, she is under the age of 65.

Unfortunately, the local non-specialist care homes did not understand the condition and we end up being the square peg trying to fit into a round hole or being flatly refused, upon them learning of the challenging conditions that can be associated with the diagnosis. At this point I sought advice from fellow Rare Dementia Support members and fortunately we were introduced to Langham Court.”

Was there anything which surprised you when you started organising your wife’s stay?

“Having never been involved in having to sort out any care home facilities before it was a very steep learning curve. I naively thought that respite care, for my weekend away, could be organised very quickly, but soon learned that it isn’t.  From talking to a number of people, the general consensus was that respite care needed to be a two week exercise. Enough time for my wife to become accustomed to her new temporary home and enough time for Langham Court to understand my wife’s condition.

After a lot of negotiation with local Adult Care Services about arranging respite care at Langham Court after about a month it became apparent that it is not as easy as booking into a hotel.

Respite care is subject to a pre-admission assessment, as well as the right room being available at the right time. I just hadn’t expected the complexities, but was extremely glad when an agreement was reached.”

After all the heartache and finally selecting Langham Court for respite, what is your take on the experience?

“It was a positive experience.  I needed a break from the caring role and I’m very grateful of the two weeks’ respite stay. I visited my wife after the first week to make sure that she realised that I was still around, but by that time she had settled into her new home environment and we were both comfortable when I headed home, which was a great reassurance for me.

The second week stay then allowed me to get away for a short holiday with friends and that really helped me and showed that there can still be a life outside the caring role. My only schoolboy error was collecting my wife on the way back from the airport and expecting to get back into the normal, routine caring straightaway.”

What would you say to anyone in your position?

“My advice to anybody now would be, go away, enjoy yourself and come home for a couple of days before you go and collect your loved one.”

Taking advantage of a respite break also allows you to consider the suitability of the care home should you need to consider this route in the future for a permanent residential care home.

You’ve probably had the “please don’t put me into a care home conversation” and frankly, I don’t think that anybody wants to think about transitioning into alternative living arrangements but sometimes it makes sense.”  Husband of a resident in Langham Court

A final word from Charlie

This gentleman’s experience is one which is very familiar to myself and the team at Langham Court.  We hear similar stories from many of the family members who come to have a tour around the estate and are considering us as a lace for their loved ones to come for respite care.  We are always happy to talk through the care needs of someone living with dementia, or offer advice to their family even if they don’t choose Langham Court.

For more information or advice please do get in touch 

Why is nutrition so important for older people?

One of the many joys of living at the Huntington and Langham Estate is the delicious, nutritionally balanced and beautifully presented food made daily by our excellent chefs.

Many of our residents tell us that when they were still in their own homes, shopping for ingredients and making meals was a tedious chore.  Some said that physical disability meant it was hard for them to get out and about and then come home and cook. Some totally lost all enjoyment in eating, having the same quick-to-cook, bland food every day.

Others mentioned that living alone and loneliness made it hard for them to eat. Memories of cooking for family and then their loved one every day, when meals were something to be savoured and shared, gave way to apathy, lack of appetite and an ensuing impact on their health once they were only creating meals for one.

Putting the joy back into food and eating again.

Living at the Huntington and Langham Estate, our residents no longer have to think about food shopping, what to buy and what to cook. There’s no more money wasted on food which goes off before it’s cooked.

Instead, we most often find that residents have a new or renewed interest in food. Our weekly meal plans are created especially to have varied courses and a new choice of mains every day. There’s no set time for eating – residents can choose when and what they eat.

Check out our sample winter menu here 

Winter Menu

With a delicious range of food available and convivial company at meals, residents often very quickly see benefits in their health within weeks.

New residents who’d not seen a vegetable in quite a while or who have taken to eating packets of biscuits for dinner soon regain a healthy weight and the nutritional balance their body needs.

“The food continues to be of a very high quality, and the dining experience is enhanced by having vegetables in dishes to enhance choice. One woman asks for “more leeks”, so this visual choice really helps encourage people to eat the things they enjoy most.”  Visitor to Langham Court.

Hydration is so important.

Dehydration in older people can have complications, including low blood pressure, weakness, dizziness and increased risk of falls. Pressure sores and skin conditions are more likely with dehydration, as are UTIs and kidney stones.

For these reasons, improving residents’ hydration levels is very important to us and to their families. Long-lasting improved hydration is a tangible and vital benefit to living with us.

The perils of malnutrition.

As you age, your nutritional needs may change, but though you may be less active than in earlier life, it’s still important to eat regular nutritious meals. It’s a myth that older people have to be smaller and thinner. In fact, it may be more important to be more robust so you prevent some health risks that come from frailty.

Too much weight loss in older adults can lead to increased fatigue, a more significant risk of falls and injuries, decreased immune system efficiency, a greater risk of infection, and changes in cognitive and mood disorders.

Malnutrition is never an issue for our residents (or team!).

Food, glorious food!

The quality, variety and deliciousness of the food we serve have definitely contributed to our success over the years. Charlie – our MD – is a trained Chef who spent time in our kitchens before joining the management team. He still works closely with our catering team to make the standards of food served the same as the standards of our care – consistently outstanding.

Delicious Meals At H&L Estate

At the Huntington & Langham Estate, we provide luxury care across our two specialist care homes. Family-owned and run, we offer dignified, compassionate and personalised care to our residents, giving them the nurturing support they need to continue living full, independent and meaningful lives. We are Butterfly and Dragonfly accredited.

Please do get in touch for more information on the Huntington & Langham Estate.

Contact Us

Or to arrange a visit to the Estate and tour our homes and grounds, please call 01428 604 600.