• Just one in five (21%) people don’t expect to need residential social care in their old age.
  • Of those who believe they may, two-thirds (67%) thought it most likely they would need it from age 80 or older.
  • 80% of people think average time needing care is over three years and 30% believe the average is more than five years.

With a growing elderly population in the UK, social care is a key subject on the political agenda. As highlighted in the recent report from Independent Age* only one in ten MPs in England (10%) believe that the current social care system is suitable for the UK’s ageing population. And after controversial plans in its Manifesto, the Government is due to consult shortly on how its funding can be shared between the state and individuals.

New research** from Aegon has found that only 21% of people anticipate that they won’t need residential social care in their old age, indicating that four out of five people are facing up to the prospect and not burying their heads in the sand.

The research also found that of those who believe they may need residential care, two-thirds (67%) thought it most likely they would need it from age 80 or older.

Length of time people expect to spend in care

The research also revealed that most people had realistic expectations in terms of how long people typically spend in residential care in their old age. 80% of respondents thought the average time would be more than three years, while 30% believed the average is more than five years. A study by Newcastle University*** found men spent 2.4 years on average needing regular care albeit not necessarily in a residential facility and women three years.

How much people expect care will cost

The findings also indicated that 78% of people thought the average cost of residential care is £30,000 or more a year with most (59%) expecting it to be between £30,000 and £50,000 a year.

This is in keeping with the latest figures from Laing & Buisson’s Care of Older People UK Market Report 2016/17****, that estimate that it costs on average around £31,200 a year for residential care, rising to over £43,700 a year if nursing care is necessary.

Steven Cameron, Pensions Director at Aegon UK, said:

“Our research captured a wide range of views on the likely need for social care in old age and the associated costs. It’s reassuring to see that the reality of these costs is resonating with people with the majority expecting residential care to cost between £30,000 and £50,000 a year. This understanding of cost is a good first step when it comes to planning for retirement and factoring in the years of care that might be required in late life. The second step is for this understanding and awareness to be converted into action.

“It’s particularly noteworthy that only one in five people (21%) said they don’t think they will need residential social care in their old age. This means most people need to be asking themselves how they’ll pay for it. The state won’t pick up the full tab and failing to plan ahead could have serious implications for inheritance aspirations.

“This is a very complex area and the Government is likely to put in place new rules around what individuals will be expected to pay. This is an area we will be following closely as the sums of money involved are significant and individuals will want to understand their savings options. As the debate about care costs evolves, getting professional financial advice may help to ensure people are well placed to meet any future costs.”

*Independent Age MPs Parliamentary Audit, https://www.independentage.org/sites/default/files/2017-08/Independent%20Age_MPs_Parliamentary_Audit_Social_Care.pdf

** Research was conducted by Aegon with the Aegon UK consumer and customer panel. Total sample size was 651 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken in August 2017.

*** Newcastle University study as published in the Lancet, August 2017,http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(17)31575-1/fulltext

**** Laing & Buisson’s Care of Older People UK Market Report 2016/17,http://www.payingforcare.org/care-home-fees