How to decide whether life in a care home is the best choice, or whether live-in care has more to offer.
Making the difficult choice between live-in care and a care home
There was a time, not so long ago, when reaching the stage in life where you could no longer cope at home meant you had to leave it. The place that you loved, with all its treasures and memories, would be sold to fund the seemingly inevitable move to residential care.
Yet given the choice, 97% of us would prefer to continue living at home, where we feel safe, secure and comforted by the things that make it ours.
The advent of home care services, ranging from half-hourly visits to 24hr live-in support, has created a realistic and affordable alternative.
These tailored care plans are enabling more people – even those coping with complex health conditions like dementia – to live well at home for many years. Moreover, research clearly points to the significant health and wellbeing benefits of doing so.
But the question is, which is right for you: a care home or care at home?
As a provider of high-quality live-in care, we believe in the positive effect this form of support can have on your physical and mental wellbeing. But this is a very personal decision – even acknowledging that you need care of any kind can feel like a big step – and there’s no doubt that for some, with highly specialised needs, institutional care may provide a better quality of life.
So to help you make a more informed choice, we’ve summarised the positives and negatives of going into care and of staying at home with the support of a highly trained, 24-hour live-in carer.
Planning your decision now, in advance of when it simply has to be made, promises a much better outcome than feeling pressured, in crisis mode, to take the first available option.
The case for care homes
A safe environment
Care homes are staffed around the clock and good quality providers create a safe and secure environment in which to live. You will have your own room and staff will be on call to help you in the event of an emergency.
No home to maintain
As you’ve moved out of your own home, you’ll no longer be responsible for maintenance, bill paying or even housework – a relief for many who struggle to keep up with the day-to-day running of a property.
Meals planned, activities arranged
All your meals will be prepared and served at set times. There will be communal areas where you will always be able to see and socialise with other residents, typically with opportunities to take part in group activities or trips out.
Many care homes are genuinely caring places where residents feel secure, visitors are welcome and valuable new friendships are formed.
The case against care homes
Stress and upheaval
For many, especially those with deep roots at home, the stress and upheaval of moving house in later life is difficult to contemplate. If you are coping with dementia, new surroundings and unfamiliar routines can prove particularly unsettling and amplify the effects of the condition.
The life left behind
There’s often a greater challenge in moving to a care home than the sudden need to downsize a family home into a single room. It comes from leaving a community we may have been part of for many years, the neighbours who are now friends and the faithful pets that comfort us. The wrench can be emotional as well as physical.
An imposed routine
It can be a struggle to adjust to the unfamiliar routine of life in a care home. Fixed sleep, meal and visiting patterns can all contribute to a feeling of lost independence as many of life’s basic choices, such as what to eat and when to go to bed, are no longer available to us.
There are no national guidelines for staffing levels in care homes and carer-to-resident ratios vary considerably. Levels of genuine one-to-one care are low, however, with staff typically dividing their time between multiple residents with differing needs.
Admissions and infections
As a resident of a care home, you are unfortunately more likely to have a fall or be admitted to hospital, than if you were receiving one-to-one care at home. Reports also suggest that infection rates are rising in care homes, where a lack of mobility puts you at higher risk of pressure sores and urinary tract infections.
The case for live-in care
1-2-1 care, tailored to you
In the later stages of life, or if you’re coping with an ongoing illness or disability, there really is no place like home. So the attraction of staying in familiar surroundings while receiving 1-2-1 tailored care is understandably strong.
Your life on your terms
The support of an expert and compassionate live-in carer means for many, there’s simply no need to go anywhere and in many respects, nothing at all has to change. Your carer will adapt to your routine, giving you as much or as little help as you wish. You continue to decide what time you get up, go to sleep, have a meal or see friends and family.
Help when you need it
Your carer will be able to support with personal care, do the housekeeping, prepare meals, handle the paperwork and get you out to see friends and keep appointments while helping you to live as independently as possible.
Support for specialist needs
Many carers receive specialist training in conditions such as dementia, Parkinson’s or stroke, with the support of a back-up team just a phone call away. In addition, advances in design and technology mean most homes can now accommodate any specialist equipment that may be required to improve your safety and mobility.
Live-in care costs are typically in line with – and sometimes less than – what you’d pay for residential care, especially if you are assessed as needing a nursing home. The difference with live-in care is that everything you pay funds the quality of support you receive – not the room and board of a residential home.
There is an even greater value if you are part of a couple. Where a nursing home would charge double for two beds, there is only a nominal extra cost if two of you receive live-in care at the same address.
Peace of mind
Not only will your home stay in the family but your loved ones will also have the peace of mind that someone is always there with you, guarding against accidents, watching for any signs of ill-health and responding appropriately in an emergency.
The case against live-in care
A new face at home
There is often a period of adjustment when you welcome a new person into your home. The best live-in care companies will make the transition smoother by taking the time to find someone that you’re comfortable with and who shares common interests, while also having the skills to provide the best possible support. In many cases, carers quickly become ‘one of the family’, offering reassurance and companionship, as well as the more practical aspects of helping you live well at home.
Home modifications may be required
With certain health conditions, your home may require some changes to improve your safety and mobility. This can vary from specialist moving equipment such as slings and hoists to the fitting of a handrail, walk-in bath or wheelchair ramp. It’s also worth knowing that many alterations can be done for you at no cost. Some care companies even employ an Occupational Therapist who will be able to advise on what’s required and support you through its installation.
Must have a spare room
What your home will definitely need is a spare room – a private space, with TV and internet access – that your carer can call their own while they are living with you. Having somewhere quiet to relax, make their notes and recharge their batteries is essential to their wellbeing, your quality of care and a core part of the terms of service of any live-in care provider.
To sum up…
How to choose a live-in care provider
If you’ve decided that live-in care is the best option for you, you can start looking for a provider. Some act as introducers and will simply source a qualified carer for you to employ, an approach which reduces the cost somewhat, but brings its own set of responsibilities.
Other companies provide a fully managed service, employing full-time staff and selecting those they feel best suit your needs. Whichever route you choose, here are some helpful tips…
Check with the CQC
Reputable live-in care companies are regulated and inspected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Services are rated as Outstanding, Good, Requiring Improvement or Inadequate. A postcode search on its website is a good place to start looking for a provider near you. Go to www.cqc.org.uk
See what others say
You’ll find personal reviews of many live-in care providers online, from sites like Trustpilot or NHS Choices. They’re often the next best thing to hearing it from a friend or family member and could give you a valuable insight into a service you’re considering.
Ask about carer support
It might sound odd, but the manner in which carers are themselves looked after is one of the greatest influences on the care you receive. The best providers recognise the importance of their frontline staff and work hard to ensure they have the practical, technical, emotional and financial support they need to deliver outstanding care. Make a point of asking what your prospective provider does in this regard.
What happens if something goes wrong?
When you talk to a care company, it’s important to get a sense of how problems will be handled if they arise. Many people feel reassured by meeting a Care Manager or coordinator who supports the carer and becomes your go-to person if an issue needs to be resolved. Good companies will make a point of doing this when you contact them.
About The Good Care Group
The Good Care Group provides expert and highly tailored live-in care for people who need extra support to remain in the comfort of their own home.
We specialise in the provision of care for those coping with long-term conditions including all forms of dementia, Parkinson’s and stroke. We are also one of a select few providers rated ‘Outstanding’ on the last inspection by the CQC.
Uniquely among live-in care companies, we employ our own Consultant Admiral Nurse. Dr Jane Pritchard is an experienced specialist nurse who provides clinical supervision and support, particularly to those with complex conditions like dementia, Parkinson’s, cancer or stroke. Under her guidance, our clients are assured of exemplary medical care and an improved quality of life.
The Good Care Group also benefits from its own full-time Occupational Therapist. Jackie Cooper works closely with our care teams and their clients to promote independence, enablement and reablement. In constant liaison with healthcare professionals, she also ensures timely discharge from hospitals and helps our clients get the support they need to stay safe and well at home.
Our carers supported and rewarded
Our team of expert carers are employed and trained by us to the highest standards. Each one is matched, not only to your ongoing care requirements but to your interests, lifestyle and personality. They are part of our ground-breaking carer community with a dedicated Care Manager, access to 24/7 support and an ongoing wellbeing programme.
They are equipped with laptops that all but eliminate time-consuming paperwork, as well as medical monitoring equipment that detects infection and prevents unnecessary hospital visits.
Our carers also enjoy an industry-leading benefits package that rewards their dedication and loyalty, which in turn reduces staff turnover and improves our continuity of care.
National coverage, local service
We operate nationwide, with regional teams delivering completely professional and fully managed live-in care at a local level. It’s a personal, 1-2-1 approach with you at its heart.
Find out more
To speak to a friendly advisor about our live-in care, please call 0808 2524 267. You’ll also find more useful information in this free downloadable report and at www.thegoodcaregroup.com