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Care Homes vs Live-in Care

A few times our family has been in the situation where we’ve had to consider whether getting live-in help or taking an elderly relative to a live-in care home was the best option.  It’s hard to see a relative struggling to get through the day but it’s equally difficult to become their live-in carer yourself more so if you have a family of your own to take care of or health issues of your own.

It’s not always the family that decides.  Where an individual has all their faculties they may themselves feel that they and their family would be benefited by some form of assistance.

What are the Options?

Two of the most common choices are live-in care or moving into a residential home.  This is a hard decision to make by no means but sometimes a necessary one.

Care at Home

Allows for More Independence

Home care services enable the individual to live with a high degree of independence.  These also give individuals and their family complete peace of mind knowing that they are in safe hands.

Familiar Surroundings

The other key advantage is that they’d be able to stay in their own home for longer and keep in touch with friends while remaining active in their local community.  This was a great option for my grandma.  As a very strong-minded independent lady, having someone come to her home to help was ideal.  For her, it was comforting to be in familiar surroundings where she had built up so many wonderful memories.

Pets Can Stay

Many individuals have pets.  In-home help means not having to give them up.  Bonds with pets can be strong.  Pets quickly become part of the family so keeping them means the transition to care at home is less traumatic for all involved.  For dog owners, it can be hard to get their pets that much needed daily walk.   Options here would include asking a family member, neighbour or company like BorrowmyDoggy to walk them.

Flexibility in Care

Care at home is great as it is pretty flexible.  The amount of assistance is tailored to individual needs.  Carers can either visit daily or provide live-in care.  This reduces the worry not only for those being cared for but also for family and friends.  We initially started with daily assistance and my grandma had a personal alarm.  As she deteriorated we moved on to live-in help.

What We Did

We arranged this type of care through an agency.  Their staff were carefully vetted and absences were covered as required.  The staff had to be registered and meet certain standards, as set by national regulators.

This option was less expensive than a care home although that wasn’t why it was our first choice.  It was more about the freedom it gave my grandma and reassurance it gave the family that she was in good hands.

When You Need Help Deciding

For us, the priority was keeping my grandma in an environment she felt safe and comfortable in but at the same time ensuring it was safe to do so.   In some cases, staying at home isn’t a viable option no matter how much you want it to be.

It’s not always an easy decision to make on your own on your own.  Quite often family members may disagree and sometimes an external assessment such as the one I found on the Promedica24 website can help make the decision easier.  There is also a contact number on their site should you prefer to talk to someone.   Remember, it helps not to rush the decision and take advice from others that are not emotionally involved.

Care Homes

When Care Homes are the Best Option

In some instances, this may be a more suitable and realistic option.  Where all round help is essential, care homes can be the best way forward unless they can manage with a live-in carer.


In our experience, we sometimes found that care at home staff were not always the same individuals due to sickness, holidays or when understaffed.   On occasion, carers were held back by the previous client visited.

A residential option with a large team of staff can mean a greater consistency of care, increase safety and plenty of members of staff.  In most cases, residents can personalise their room with familiar items from home to make the transition easier and give a more homely feel.  Regular meals are provided so there is no need to worry about nutritional intake or them leaving the gas on (my gran had done whilst she had daily care at home which prompted us to step this up to live in care).

Social Aspect

Something that people fail to remember is how lonely some people can get.  The great thing about care homes is that they give the residents the opportunity to socialise with others of a similar age, and, often, to participate in outings and other organised activities.  Socialising with others can bring various health benefits.

My mother volunteers at a centre for the elderly weekly.  It can be their main form of contact with others in some instances.  These places are not always easy for people to reach highlighting the fact that care homes can in some cases be a more desirable option.  Not only could the living environment potentially be better in terms of warmth, safety and cleanliness, but, if medication needs to be supervised, this is also taken care of by the home.


The choice for elderly care may be restricted by what services and homes are available in each area.  Where we have a choice, it’s worth carefully weighing up the
various options before deciding what kind of elderly care is best for you or your relative.

Have you considered daily home care, live-in care or care home services for a relative or yourself?

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This Post Has 51 Comments

  1. My great nan went into a care home purely because she needed around the clock care and no one was able to do that but I’d like to think at home care is something we could do if someone did get ill x

    1. It all depends on when we decide that care is needed and the individual concerned too. When illness is involved sometimes a care home can be the best option.

  2. This is a really balanced post and although it’s not the nicest situation to consider, there’s a lot to think about on both sides in an effort to get the best result for the individual in question.


    1. I know what you mean. It is a hard thing to consider and sometimes it can help to read about others experiences and also get advice from people that are not to close to the situation.

  3. This is some really useful information to think about regarding care

    1. I’m glad you thought so Annabel. I hope if faced with the same decision you find this helpful to refer to and help you decide.

  4. My grandad really suffered while caring for his partner while she had live in care because he always felt he should be doing more when he was doing too much. She is in a nursing home now and although he travels an hour each way every day he is much more relaxed

    1. I know what you mean. When caring for family members it is had to judge it yourself and it doesn’t feel like enough whatever you do. When it’s an elderly person caring for another elderly person it can make it much harder. Sometimes a care home can mean they get the care they need without putting undue stress or pressure on anyone in the family.

  5. I’ve found with some of my elderly relatives there are just so many factors. Often times, someone may even be fine with one and then worsen and need the other….most care homes are so worth it for the help and company they offer to the elderly though.

    1. It is an individual thing that’s for sure. It depends on the needs of each person and how much help is available from family and friends.

  6. This is something we have had many discussions about in our family and the jury is still out on what we will end up doing…I think it’s hard to know until you’re actually at the time to make the decision.

    1. It is a hard thing to think about and also decide on. I know that with us some relatives tried their best but we had no choice but to bring people in to help as it was just too much otherwise.

  7. What an interesting article. It just shows how important it can be trying to get care right when it’s time to.

    1. It is important to get the right help. Needs may change with time though which needs to be taken into consideration.

  8. Some good advice, I really wouldn’t know which to pick if I had to choose for my family.

    1. It’s a hard decision to make. It can be an idea to ask for advice from others with experience.

  9. Sometimes it is possible to trial a care home by booking a couple of weeks respite care. I think you always need to consider the needs of the person doing the caring as well as the person being cared for. Usually it is a difficult decision to make.

    1. It is a hard decision. It’s good you can trial them!

  10. We had this dilemma with my Granny. She has dementia. At the start she was able to do somethings herself but as time went on the carers coming to her house couldn’t do enough in 4 visits a day. Shes doing well in her home and the staff are all amazing.

    1. I’m sorry to hear that Lewis. Needs can change depending on each individual.

  11. My Dad runs an assisted living apartment block and it’s the perfect half way home – he is there in case of emergencies but the people all live their independantly

    1. That sounds great. It is good to have options.

  12. Good you explained it all here. I thing live in care is a good option for those after some flexibility and independence.

    1. I agree it can be a good option where possible.

  13. This is something that you need to be thinking about as you get older and also need to be discussing with elderly relatives. The cost of care can add up so be sure to make provisions for it

    1. That’s very true. We should all consider putting money aside to allow for care when we get older.

  14. This is such a tough call. My feeling if you can get live in care that is a much better choice for the individual involved xx

    1. It can be the best choice in many cases.

  15. Care homes would be a great way to socialise and not feel lonely, great to weigh up the options though x

    1. They are good for the elderly although on the flip side many also like to stay in their own home for as long as possible.

  16. its a tricky decision, and we have experience of both in my family. So important to find it specific for the person involved

    1. SOrry to hear you have had to go through this. It is good to know what options are available x

  17. I like the fact that with ‘in home’ care, there can be cameras. I don’t know how people can be so trusting in strangers with their loved ones.

    1. Same here. The great thing is no one knows they’re being watched so if they do anything they shouldn’t at least you can do something about it.

  18. Real life is so hard isn’t it? This is such a hard decision to make but a really good blog post.

    1. Thanks Hollie. It was a decision we struggled with and one I know many others will have difficulty with too.

  19. This is such a hard decision to make when the time comes wether it’s for an . elderly relative or for yourself – but good to know the different options out there.

    1. It can be good to know you have options 🙂

  20. It’s such a hard decision when it comes to taking care of those you love.

    1. It really can and was something we struggled over. It was hard to get everyone to agree.

  21. Thank you for the insights. I might go with care homes for my parents when the time comes. But it will still depend on what situation we will be in.

    1. This is the thing, it depends on each unique situation what will work best.

  22. If at all possible, it sounds like in home care is truly the best way to go. Thanks for sharing some details about the options.

    1. No problem Dennis. It is all dependent on an individuals needs to be honest. Some will benefit most from home care and others from care homes.

  23. In our case and tradition, we take care of our elders and didn’t send them to any institution. As long as we are taking good care and give their needs, i think its the same thing.

    1. We did the same until extra help was needed. It’s not always possible to do it just by yourself.

  24. Very informative and good to know the options for the future.

  25. there are two sides to this , as my nan had to go into a care home as she went deaf and blind and frail and needed the care , but she gave up on life when she went in as she had lost her independence and we soon lost her too

    1. It’s hard to decide with these sorts of things and can be determined in many cases by the patients level of health.

  26. It must be a huge decision to have to make, there is some very useful information here.

    1. It is but sometimes necessary. It helps when a few members decide together.

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