You probably don’t have time to read this because you’re too busy testing and checking your staff and residents, but this is about that and really worth reading because it’s all about the eye-watering costs of keeping your residents safe.

Your weekly costs have just increased dramatically. First you had PCR tests and now you have LFD tests (or LFTs). These new twice-weekly tests are taking twice as long to carry out and costing twice as much as the PCR tests.

So, how much is all this testing and checking or staff and residents actually costing your care home? I’ve done some calculations for a care home with 50 residents and 120 staff. Check out the extraordinary results – they will probably shock you.

To work out your costs you need to first work out your average hourly rates for those who carry out your tests and checks.

The average hourly rate of our carers for one of our nursing homes, with 30% employer on-cost added, is £12.28 (Rates range from £8.72 to £10.65 before on-cost.) For our nurses, the average hourly rate with on-cost is £20.93.

First the PCR tests.

As you see in the image, I’ve estimated 10 minutes per test, which includes recording and submitting the results into the system, and 2 carers to carry out the tests.

  • Total time to test all 120 staff is 40 people hours (2 staff, 20 hours each),
  • Total cost is £491.15 based on that average hourly rate of £12.28

Next the LFD tests.

I estimated 12 minutes per test, which includes sanitising between tests, recording and submitting results and calling back the staff member for them to submit their result.

  • Total time = 96 hours
  • Total cost = £1,178.75

This gives an overall time to carry out these tests of 136 person hours or 5 ½ person days and a cost of £1,669.90…every week!

How many weekly bed fees is that and do you need to employ a couple of dedicated testers so your staff can carry out their normal duties?

Then you have your resident daily checks and monthly tests.

Each daily check takes 5 minutes and is carried out twice a day in our homes. We think it is important to carry out twice-daily checks to ensure any changes are caught within the 24 hour period and across both 12-hour shifts.

As you see, these twice-daily 5-minute checks add up to 8 hours 20 minutes a day.

That’s 58 hours 20 minutes of weekly checking and recording the results. And costs £716.26 a week in carer time.

The monthly resident tests take 15 minutes to carry out and, in this case, requires a nurse as well as a carer.

In this case the task takes a nurse and carer 12 hours 30 minutes to complete. For two people that equates to 25 person hours. This equates to a monthly cost of £415.14.

To get to weekly costs, the table divides the monthly effort into weeks. Divide by 30 and multiply by 7 to get a more accurate weekly figure and you have 5 hours 50 minutes and a cost of £96.87.

The weekly total for resident checks and tests is 64 hours 10 minutes and a cost of £813.12.

This gives a total time for tests and checks of staff and residents of 200 hours 10 minutes which is over 8 person days of extra work each week.

If a person works 41.25 hours a week – that’s nearly 5 extra staff members.

And that doesn’t include extra time for collating results that come back, training, managing visitors and so on.

In this example we added £20 a week per resident for PPE. That’s £1000 a week.

This means that this care provider is spending £3,483.02 a week to keep their residents safe from Coronavirus. That’s £69.66 added cost for each of the 50 residents.

Can you afford to lose that kind of money from your bed fees every week?

If this care home had a positive case and it has to increase the LFD testing to daily over 7 days, then the LFD cost alone would increase to 36 people hours and £4,125.64!

The the overall cost in people time and money would then increase to 440 hours 10 minutes (over 18 days!) and £6,429.91! Those hours are the equivalent to nearly 11 staff members.

Even if you don’t get a positive case, not only is this not sustainable but is nigh-on impossible.

You need to know these costs for your care home. You can’t blindly carry out these tests and checks and hope your care home can afford to do them.

These tables and calculations come straight out of a tool I’ve developed called the .

You can use this same tool if you want to and so or the above link to access it. There is a tiny cost to cover my development and support costs, which is nothing compared to knowing how much this virus is costing your care home.

To implement current government guidelines and still maintain the level of care required, you will have to employ these extra people. You will have to find this extra, multiple-bed-fee-equivalent, money each week.

We calculated these figures for our nursing homes and my wife used them when talking with the council earlier this week. They had no idea and were shocked.

Of course they were, they have no idea. They clearly don’t think through the logistics and cost of say insisting that you carry out 7 daily LFD tests if you get a positive. Instead of leaving it to you to manage as you see fit.

And it’s not even as if the LFD tests are particularly accurate. Based on the care homes my wife has and conversations she has with other providers (she is chair of an association) she estimates only 30% accuracy.

And about that still maintaining the required level of care…in an email from the Department of Health and Social Care they said, … we absolutely don’t want resident care to be compromised, and it’s for this reason we sent an email to all care homes in England this morning (attached) letting them know we’re implementing a two week grace period of reporting negative staff LFD results so that staff can conduct the testing without having to spend time away from caring in order to register the results. We have also announced additional funding of £149m for care homes to spend on testing which should help with the pressures.”

So, you have a two-week grace period which actually ends on 16th January, so you don’t have to “spend time away from caring in order to register results.” We’ve established that LFD testing takes approximately 7 minutes (the 12 minutes in the example included to bring back the person to submit the result).

7 minutes LFD testing in the above example, brings the time and cost down to 56 hours and £687.61. Still an enormous amount of time and cost.

And the £149m funding, we estimated equates to around £50 a bed. In the above example, that’s less than the care provider would lose (£69.66) on each bed in a week.

What this highlights, is that the government is clueless as to how much this is costing you in time, money and stress.

They have no idea that how much this could impact the very survival of care homes.

Care providers are caught between a rock and a hard place. One being the financial health of their care home and the other being the underfunding of the care sector and the woefully low fees most receive.

You cannot cover these extra costs indefinitely and some won’t be able to at all and will go under.

So, what will you do?

To survive, your care home must be financially viable. That means, like any other business, if your costs go up so must your prices – your bed fees – to compensate.

You need to begin talks with your local councils and CCGs and you need to do this armed with knowing exactly how much your costs are. You need to know…

  • How much these tests and checks and PPE are actually costing you per resident,
  • Your new, higher (Covid-19 included) running (fixed and staff) cost per resident,
  • How much the individual care you provide to each resident costs,
  • The healthy profit margin you need.

Once you know these figures you can set the fee you need for each resident in order for your care home to be financially sustainable.

Then you need to arrange review meetings and, with the clarity your figures give you, you need to negotiate the fees you need or give notice on any residents that are actually making you a loss.

This is a bigger discussion – setting the right fees, negotiating and knowing how many empty beds your care home can handle and the actual financial impact of them.

All this I cover in my report,

I think this really is crunch time for so many care providers and for the sector. For it and care homes to survive providers must take financial control and set the fees that will cover ALL their costs and return a healthy profit.

So, the way forward?

Know your numbers…know how much Covid-19 is costing you and use the to help you. Know your costs as I bulleted above and set individual resident fees that will make your home financially healthy and resilient.

Check out my Care Fee Calculator if you need help with that.

You will meet resistance, of course you will, but the alternative is continued struggle and eventual closure.


Our mission is to help care homes succeed and we are working hard to provide you with the guidance and the tools you need to get through this pandemic and to succeed in a sector that has been crisis for years.

For example, and you will see a link to a calculator tool that will help you calculate the cost of this pandemic in your care home. Or download the tool directly here. .

Looking beyond the pandemic and you have a sector that has been under funded for years, resulting in the loss of hundreds of care homes. The report addresses this bigger issue and the tool the Care Fee Calculator helps you set the fees you need to succeed.

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