The BBC has launched an online guide to the care system for the over-65s.
The “care calculator” covers both residential care and the support provided in people’s own homes, for tasks such as washing and dressing.
Users can submit their postcode and find out how much each service costs wherever they live in the UK.
It also gives details about how the systems differ in the four nations – since devolution, the way services are organised has diverged.
The ageing population means there is an increasing focus on care services – and how they link up with the NHS.
About 420,000 people live in care homes across the UK, while another 850,000 get help in their own home.
Some people pay for all their care, while others get help from their local councils towards their fees.
There are another 1.5 million people who rely on friends and family for support.
How UK care fees compare
people live in care homes
1 in 3
pay for themselves
- £574 avg weekly fee in England
- £513 avg weekly fee in Wales
- £510 avg weekly fee in Scotland
- £492 avg weekly fee in N Ireland
The guide has been compiled using information from analysts LaingBuisson, councils and through the Freedom of Information Act.
It shows how care costs can vary – in Barnsley the average sum paid for a care home place is £399.13 a week, for example, while in the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea costs top £1,000.
Users in England are also able to get an estimate of how much they may have to pay before their care costs are capped under a reform due to be introduced in April 2016.
Elsewhere in the UK, the guide provides information about local fees – and what elements of the system are free.
In Scotland, personal care is free, while in Northern Ireland many do not have to pay for home care. In Wales, help at home is capped at £55 a week.
Norman Lamb, England’s care minister, said: “This calculator is a fantastic resource.
“It gives you lots of great information and is what public sector broadcasting is all about. I’m really impressed.”
Janet Morrison, chief executive of the Independent Age charity, said: “Working out what to pay for care is a complex business and is often approached at a strained and emotional point in people’s lives.
“Anything that makes this process simpler to plan, understand and navigate is applauded.”
Caroline Abrahams, of Age UK, added: “The BBC’s care cap calculator is a useful tool that brings some clarity to a complicated system.”