14 August 2023

What are the chances you’ll need long-term care one day?

At a glance

  • Many of us will need social care in later life, either in our own home or a residential care home.
  • Most people will end up needing to self-fund some or all of their social care in later life – and costs can be extremely high as well as hard to predict.
  • If you plan ahead for social care, as well as all the fun things in your retirement, you can confidently look forward to the future you imagine.

What are the chances that you’ll need some form of long-term care before the end of your life?

It’s a question that’s very hard to answer, and all too easy to avoid. But in terms of financial wellbeing, it’s the million dollar question. Paying for social care, for as long as you need it, can make a huge hole in your finances. And it can make a big difference to the amount of money you can pass on to your family.

How many of us will need social care in later life?

In 2021, the NHS estimated that 24% of men and 28% of women aged 65 and over needed help with at least one daily living task1, whether that need is met by paid carers, or unpaid. That’s around one in four1. And over half of those over the age of eighty need some form of help or care.

Making an accurate prediction about social care

The figure that comes up most often for needing some kind of social care is actually one in four. This was used by the Dilnot Commission, which investigated the reform of adult social care in 2011, and it’s still widely used as a reference point, for example, in a 2021 House of Lords private member’s bill aiming to reform the insurance market for elderly social care2.

Whichever set of figures you’re inclined to believe, one thing is certain: the cost of social care can be eye-wateringly expensive. The prudent way forward may be to plan for the worst – but hope for the best.

How much might I need to pay for care?

A week in a typical UK residential care home is currently estimated to be around £760, but if nursing care is also required that figure rises to £9603. Fees can be as much as £1,250 per week in some parts of the UK.

Paying for care doesn’t just impact the person receiving the care. A family member might decide to give up work to care for a parent. And of course, the more money goes on paying for social care, the less your estate will be worth.

Will the state help pay for my social care?

“There’s still a significant percentage of people who believe, wrongly, that long-term care is covered by the NHS, and so the state will pay no matter what” says Tony Müdd, Divisional Director at St. James’sPlace. The government is considering proposals to put a cap on how much an individual might have to pay, but those proposals and any decisions have been deferred to 20254.

“It’s human nature to stick your head in the sand” says Tony. “If it wasn’t, people would buy life insurance, critical illness cover and income protection in much greater volumes than they currently do. Unfortunately, a lot of people suffer from an ‘it won’t happen to me’ state of mind.”

“If people fail to get to grips with the possibility that they might well need long-term care, they won’t consider the financial implications of having to pay for that care.”

How to prepare yourself: seek financial advice

“There’s a small group of people who actually have enough money to pay for whatever care they need, and they’ll be able to afford it without any problems,” Tony says.

“And there’s a small minority whose assets are such that they will qualify for assistance from the state. However, there is a huge section in the middle for whom the state won’t provide, and they will have to self-fund – and, sadly, a lot of them may not have enough money.”

The most important thing, he stresses, is to seek professional financial advice, even if you’re only in your 50s and long-term care seems a dot on the horizon.

Making social care part of your later life planning

“There are lots of life events and instances that we’re used to preparing for, the obvious one being retirement,” says Tony. “And a possible need for care is another one of those that we should always add to the list. I would say, don’t make it a huge issue, but don’t pretend it’s not there. Just discuss it with your financial adviser. Make it part of your thinking and your adviser can build that into your plan.”

“With practical, expert financial advice you can leave loved ones a legacy and fund care for as long as you need it.”

If you’d like to have a chat to a financial adviser about planning for the cost of social care, do get in touch.

SJP has also teamed up with Care Sourcer to help you understand support and benefits available to you and explore the most suitable care to meet your needs.

To find out more about how Care Sourcer’s Care Concierge confidential telephone advisory service can help you, talk to us. Care Sourcer’s services are separate and distinct to SJP.


1NHS Digital, 16 May 2023 – accessed August 2023

2Elderly Social Care (Insurance) Bill, House of Lords Library – accessed August 2023

3Carehome, April 2023 – accessed August 2023

4Age UK – Accessed August 2023

SJP Approved 03/08/2023

By Matthew Forbes