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Care at Home or Residential Care?

When assessing long term care options, the first decision is whether residential care or care delivered in the comfort of your own home would most suit one of your clients or even a loved one in your own family.

Placing anyone into a residential home can be daunting. You should question whether there are other viable options that will have a less negative impact on daily life. The financial, social, emotional and physical costs should all be considered carefully when comparing a residential care home or nursing home alongside a home care service.

There are an estimated 5,153 nursing homes and 12,525 residential homes in the UK (Age UK estimate calculated from Care of Elderly People Market Survey 2013/14, Laing and Buisson, 2014). According to this survey, there are 426,000 elderly and disabled people in residential care (including nursing), approximately 405,000 of whom are aged over 65. However, only 16% of people aged 85+ in the UK live in care homes. This would suggest that the other 84% do not need care or have chosen to be supported by carers at home.

There are many compelling benefits to staying in your own home that are increasingly being recognised. The UK government now clearly supports the right of older people to remain living at home, with dignity and independence for as long as possible. Delivery of care in a residential care home setting can never be as personalised as care in your own home. The ratio of carers to residents in a care home can vary from one-to-four to in excess of one-to-ten depending upon the residents’ acuity and quality of establishment, which means that for many, personalised care is simply not feasible. By comparison, a live-in home care service  providing one-to-one care is  tailored to an individual’s needs, and promotes choice in all decisions, including what to eat, how to live life and enable a person to maintain personal interests and social activities. Put simply carers have the time to go the extra mile.

The person can receive care in the comfort and safety of their home, surrounded by all that is familiar to them. Conversely, the decision to move into a care home may mean leaving a much loved and familiar community, a family pet or may even mean couples having to part. It has been widely recognised that live-in care promotes better health, and those people being cared for are less likely to suffer falls and other accidents resulting in hospital admissions. Importantly, the higher level of support provided by a live-in carer means that people are less likely to feel lonely and vulnerable, which in turn promotes mental and physical wellbeing. Also, the family or Power of Attorney has peace of mind knowing that their loved one or client is being cared for 24/7. People receiving care at home generally feel safer, more relaxed, more confident and often happier.

Not only will a live-in carer be available at all times to provide all aspects of personal care to their client, they will take charge of all the general housework such as the shopping, cooking, laundry, and cleaning. A live-in carer provides a continuity of care not often feasible in a residential setting. A good live-in carer will quickly gain a deep understanding of the person they are looking after, building up a wealth of knowledge that is only really achievable through one to one care.

There will be those who want the structure and organisation that a care home can offer together with companionship of other residents but for others, they long to stay in their own home with all the familiarity, comforts and personal belongings of Home Sweet Home.