Self-funders and social care: findings from a scoping review

Baxter K

Research Policy and Planning 2016, 31, 3: 179—193

Available online 17 Mar 2016


This paper draws on a scoping review of the evidence base about adults in England who purchase social care services and support using their own money. It presents a selection of the review’s findings relevant to self-funders and key aspects of the Care Act 2014.

The review covers the years 2000 to 2015. Searches of electronic databases were complemented by a focused search of the websites of key organisations. After applying inclusion/exclusion criteria, and removing duplicates, details were extracted from 76 references. The majority focussed on residential care (33), domiciliary care (12), or both (23). Studies used a range of research methods.

The overall numbers and percentages of self-funders of home care and care home places have increased. There are variations across regions but limited evidence about demographic or socio-economic characteristics of self-funders. Self-funders feel they lack advice from local authorities; local authorities have limited knowledge of self-funders in their areas. People struggle to understand fees and the financial implications of long-term care. Providers are beginning to realise the potential of the self-funding market but full use is not yet being made of e-marketplaces.

Key gaps in knowledge remain at a time when the number and importance of self-funders is increasing.