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Experiences of those who self-fund care

Researchers investigated different people’s experience of finding and funding their own social care.

Published: 20 July 2022


Researchers led by the University of York recorded interviews with people who draw on social care services about the different aspects of funding their own care. These recordings were then analysed and sorted to provide an online resource to help others better understand the options when it comes to funding their care.

About the study

Self-funders are people who pay the costs of their social care from their own resources. Around 40% of people living in care homes and 20% of people who receive care at home self-fund.

Self-funders make important decisions about paying for social care with little or no prior experience. They often rely on small or inexperienced networks of friends and family for advice. The aim of the study was to better understand these experiences and share them to help other potential self-funders, their families and social care professionals.

Conducting the research

The research team recorded 29 interviews with self-funders, their families and carers. They grouped video and audio clips from the interviews into major topics including:

  • Getting the right care
  • Understanding money matters
  • Assessments and eligibility
  • Information and support
  • Family and friends
  • Legal matters

These are available to view throughout the paying for social care section of the website.

“Money and care is a big worry for people. They are anxious about how they will fund their care, where to get advice and what questions to ask. I hope by sharing these clips and experiences on, it helps people feel more informed about their choices.”
- Dr Kate Baxter, Chief Investigator

NIHR support

The research team were able to identify research-ready care homes via the ENRICH network. The team contacted individual care homes to find participants and advertised in the ENRICH newsletter. This was particularly successful in the West Midlands.

“The research team worked really hard with voluntary organisations and connections across the NIHR network to recruit interviewees. We would have liked to speak to more older people about their experiences and showcase a more diverse range of voices, but the team did a brilliant job to get all the information we did, given the challenges we had with the pandemic.”
- Dr Kate Baxter, Chief Investigator

Future plans

This project has led to more work on self-funders. Dr Baxter is leading a project to develop a decision support tool which will help older people make a plan about paying for their care.

Future NIHR-funded research will also contribute to creating more content for As part of the three schools dementia research programme, researchers are investigating the social care experiences of those with early stage dementia and their carers, which will form two new sections on the site.

Further information

Award details

The research was funded by the Research for Patient Benefit programme's additional call on social care research. It was conducted between September 2019 and June 2021. Full details are available on NIHR funding and awards.

The research team was led by the University of York. The team included Universities of Oxford, Huddersfield, Birmingham, Aston, as well as City of York Council and Dipex Charity. Full details of the research team are available on the University of York website.

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