If a loved one needs care: managing their changing needs

13th January 2022

At a glance:

  • If a parent or grandparent requires care, it’s important to consider how their needs might evolve in the future so that you can be prepared.
  • This has implications in terms of where they might live and how much the care is likely to cost.
  • Seeking expert advice can be valuable in helping you deal with the current situation and plan for the future – both in terms of managing the family finances and navigating the UK’s care systems.

When you find that a parent or grandparent needs care, your priority must be to address their immediate needs and the concerns you might have. For example, they might be at the point of discharge from hospital and no longer able to manage on their own at home, or they might have experienced a sudden deterioration in their mental or physical health. Find out more about the steps we recommend for arranging and paying for care.

However, as soon as you are able, it’s also essential to think about what the long-term picture might look like. It’s even better to have considered this before the point of crisis occurs, while your elderly relative is still in good health.

Although every individual case is different, and you will have your own unique problems and concerns, it’s very unlikely that your parent or grandparent’s care needs will remain static. It’s therefore worth taking some time to consider the broad spectrum of care that is available and how it might support their needs not only now, but also into the foreseeable future.

How care needs might change

To begin with, it’s possible that your parent or grandparent may be able to remain living in their own home with just a bit of regular support – perhaps with meals or cleaning – which is relatively easy to arrange and will keep their care costs to a minimum.

However, depending on their individual circumstances, these arrangements might be adequate for only a certain amount of time, and they could eventually develop a need for residential care. This, in turn, could evolve into a need for dedicated nursing or dementia care.

While some residential homes offer these more specialised forms of care, it’s not always the case. Moving your parent or grandparent from one place to another can be a difficult and disruptive process for them and you. Therefore, if you think they could need more complex care in the future, it’s usually worth trying to find a residential home offering a full range of support that could meet their current and future needs without risking any future upheaval.

Paying for a care home or in-home care

It’s also important to consider the cost implications of their care, both now and in the future, especially if your parent or grandparent is likely to have to fund it themselves. Find out more about who will need to pay for care.

For example, a carer visiting the house for two hours a day could cost £15,000 a year or more,1 whereas at the other end of the spectrum, a residential home with full dementia care could cost upwards of £48,000 a year,2 depending on where you live in the country.

Talking to your loved ones about care

Whether you will be organising care for yourself or a loved one, the more you can ready yourself for such future needs and future cost – as well as how both might change over time – the easier the whole process will be.

In most cases, that means having a potentially difficult conversation with your parent or grandparent. It might be relatively easy to discuss the need for someone to pop into their home to give some support once or twice a day. But it can be a whole lot harder to talk about the prospect of residential or dementia care. If your loved one is falling frequently, not eating properly or becoming forgetful to the point where it’s dangerous for them to remain at home, it’s a hugely emotive subject.

Understandably, very few people are prepared for that situation and frequently, when you’re in that position, you’ll find you learn how to handle it as you go.

Getting support when you need it most

One way to make it easier for everyone is to draw on outside help. And, although it might not be the first thing you think of, one important source of support can be your financial adviser.

Many of our Partners at St. James’s Place are trained in later-life needs and specialise in supporting people who require care. What’s more, we have a partnership with long-term-care expert Care Sourcer: thanks to its extensive knowledge of UK care systems, it will be able to help broach the subject of your parent or grandparent’s evolving needs with you as a family and offer calm, practical support right through the process – both at the point of need and on an ongoing basis as their requirements develop with time.

Meanwhile, your Partner, as an expert financial adviser, can guide you through the options available for funding – whether that’s helping you understand how much your local authority will pay for care, or structuring your parent or grandparent’s finances in the best way to enable them to pay for care-home costs.

This can be a difficult time, but it’s important to remember that with the right support and advice, you can get to where you need to be both now and as things develop in the future.

The services provided by Care Sourcer are separate and distinct to those offered by St. James’s Place.


1 Care home or home care?, Money Advice Service, 2021

2 How much does care cost?, Paying For Care, 2021