Moving back home from residential care

Written by Zenya Smith29/05/24


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Older people can move out of a care home for a variety of reasons. If they’d previously been in hospital their stay may have only been temporary if the discharge team felt their own home wasn’t suitable for their needs during their recovery. 

An older person and their family may have been advised by a social worker that a care home would be the best option, as many social services consider it the default for certain care needs and have existing relationships with local homes. However, after further time and research, families may decide they’d rather have their loved one back in their own home. 

And, some people simply won’t be suited to the care home environment. Quiet or introverted people may find living with others and the social activities difficult. People who have spent their lives being fiercely independent may not respond well to the home’s routine, such as eating at specific meal times, or feel boxed in by being unable to come and go as they please. 

If your loved one is currently in a care home, but you’re planning to help them return home, we’ll look at how the process works and the things to consider in this guide.

What are the benefits of live-in care compared to residential care? 

One of the key benefits of live-in care is having one, dedicated carer to provide round the clock care that’s personalised to the person they’re caring for, and their family. In a care home the ratio of staff to residents can differ – often with one carer supporting several residents at once. Staff rotations can make it difficult to get to know the people caring for your loved one too. 

Outside of staffing, The Live In Care Hub has identified a number of benefits through their annual reports and research, these include – 

People are 3x more likely to have a hip fracture if they’re in a care home, compared to live-in care in their own home. 

Those receiving live-in care in their own home experience 1/3 fewer falls than care home residents

30% of care homes stated it would be highly unlikely or impossible for residents to leave the grounds of the home without a visitor being there to assist them. 

Up to 71%  residential homes don’t allow pets, leading 20% of elderly people stating they would put their health at risk by refusing to move into a care home if it meant losing a pet. 

98% of people receiving live-in care stated that it had improved their quality of life. 

How to move a loved one back home

Practical considerations 

Before changing your current care arrangement, it’s important to consider the practicalities of live-in care. Firstly it’s important to ensure you have the space to accommodate a live-in carer, as they’ll need their own private bedroom in the home. If you don’t have a spare bedroom, some families choose to convert a second reception room or study into a bedroom. The important thing is that the carer has sole use of the room, and that it’s not used as a thoroughfare to other areas of the house. For example, if a dining room provides the only route to the kitchen, it would be unsuitable for a live-in care to stay in. 

A live-in carer will also need access to a bathroom, but will not require a bathroom of their own. 

You’ll also want to ensure the home is a safe place to receive care. Talk to a social worker or your loved one’s GP for advice. They may refer you to an occupational therapist to assess the home and make recommendations on adaptations to make to meet your loved one’s level of care needs, such as adding handrails, ramps, or hoists. 

It’s also important to think about daily life and how your loved one likes to spend their time. 24-hour care works best when families and carers are able to build a strong relationship, so you’ll want a professional carer who can join them in their hobbies, and will have plenty to talk about with your loved one. Thinking about these ahead of time and creating a wish list will make it easier to identify potential candidates further down the line. 

Check your contract 

If your loved one is paying their own fees and has mental capacity (meaning they can make decisions about their care for themselves), they can technically leave a care home whenever they like. However it’s important to carefully read through the contract they have with their current care home before making any decisions. There may be a notice period in place, and specific terms and conditions around cancellations and moving out. Some residential care homes may offer a trial period allowing you to leave within the first 30 days without incurring a termination fee. 

The contract should also give you guidance on things like – 

  • any additional fees to pay when you ;leave
  • notice period after any trial period has come to an end 
  • how and when to remove your loved one’s belongings 

In 2018 a set of consumer rights for care home residents and their families was drawn up to ensure everyone has access to clear information when it comes to deciding whether or not to move out of a care home. 

If your care is fully or partially funded by a local authority, the contract will be between them and the care home, so you’ll need to speak to your local authority to get the process started and understand the next steps.

If you choose Elder live-in care, ask the care home for a copy of your loved one’s care plan, as this information will make it easier to build your Elder care profile.

Request a needs assessment

If you’re receiving funding for care home fees, or are in the process of applying for funding you’ll need to let your social services department know of your intentions to switch to live-in care. 

When you choose home based care, the value of the home will not be included in your financial assessment, as it becomes the place where care will take place, rather than a financial asset. This means if you didn’t think you were eligible for funding before, you may be eligible for funding towards live-in care once you’ve excluded the value of the home from your available assets and income.

If the care home is closing 

Sometimes the decision to move out of a care home may not be in your hands. Care homes may be forced to close if the property is old and is no longer able to meet the needs of residents, or if they’re facing financial challenges. 

If your care home is closing and the council is contributing towards the cost of your care, they’ll still be responsible for finding you an alternative care option that meets your needs. In this instance they have an obligation to consider both your loved one’s physical health and mental wellbeing. So if you have a strong preference for live-in care this is the time to voice it. Bear in mind, while live-in care fees are comparable in cost to care homes in most regions of the UK, if you choose a live-in care provider that costs more than your original care home fees, you’ll need to contribute the difference in what’s called a ‘top up fee’.

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