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Care homes: Should I choose residential care or live-in care?

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If your elderly relative seems to be struggling to cope in their own home, then you’re probably considering the best options for their long-term care. Until fairly recently, you had just two options - move your relative into your own home, or find a place in a residential care home.


Care in the family home

Moving your relative into your own home is a route that some families choose, but the process is rarely seamless. Many families find themselves torn between caring for very young and very old relatives, and with so many adults now in full-time employment, there is often nobody at home during the day, leaving your loved one as lonely as if they had remained in their own home.

Residential care - the pros

Residential care homes are available the length and breadth of the country, with homes available in a wide variety of locations, from urban to rural, meaning that there is plenty of choice.

Your loved one can visit a variety of care homes before deciding on the one that best suits their needs and tastes. Once they have made their choice, they will be given a room of their own, which they are usually permitted to furnish as they choose, using possessions from their own home, so that they can completely personalise it.

They will be provided with healthy and nutritious meals every day, with no need to worry about cooking, shopping or washing up, and the temperature of their room will always be maintained at optimum levels, keeping them safe and warm.

There are always outings and events taking place at a care home, which your loved one is free to attend, as they choose. They can seek out company in the communal areas, or keep to their own room if they prefer.

Staff are on hand throughout the days and nights, meaning that someone is always there to deal with medical problems or other issues, and the rest of the family can relax in the knowledge that their loved one is safe, well and in good hands.

Residential care - the cons

While residential care may seem the perfect solution for elderly people struggling to cope in their homes, there are a number of downsides too. Many elderly people are strongly resistant to the idea of institutional care, no matter how luxurious, much preferring to remain in the familiar surroundings of their own homes.

One of the biggest challenges for elderly people moving into residential care is the need to downsize a lifetime’s worth of possessions. Whittling down the contents of a whole house, to create a home in just one room in a care home, can be a difficult, if not heartbreaking, process for the majority of elderly people.

Many older people have gardens that they have nurtured for many years. A move into care means saying goodbye to a much-loved part of their life.

In other instances, there are elderly people with pets, and the majority of care homes are simply unable to accommodate these, due to lack of space and health and safety regulations. Yet pet ownership has consistently been proven to provide exceptional health benefits, including lowered blood pressure and a sense of wellbeing.

What our customers say

“The carer you sent me is fantastic. My mum loves her. She’s kind, caring and works as a team with me.”

Angela, Manchester

Older people tend to value their independence very highly, and a move into institutional care can leave them feeling lost and alone in unfamiliar surroundings.

For people with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, a change of home can be particularly distressing, as they struggle to understand where they are, and what has happened to their old familiar lifestyle.

The lack of privacy in residential care can be difficult for some residents to adapt to, and they can find themselves avoiding social interactions in an attempt to keep themselves to themselves. They may miss their old lifestyle and become increasingly withdrawn as they fail to adjust to their new surroundings.

Live-in care

An increasingly popular alternative to residential care is live-in care at home, where a dedicated caregiver moves into your elderly relative’s home, acting as a facilitator, helper and enabler.

A system that is rapidly changing the face of elderly care, live-in care allows your loved one to continue to enjoy their familiar lifestyle from the comfort of their own home.

Encompassing everything from companion care through to the more rigorous demands of dementia care, live-in care offers an attractive alternative to the care home model.

One which allows your loved one to carry on enjoying all aspects of life, including socialising with friends and neighbours and taking part in local community events, which makes them feel valued and respected.

Cost will almost certainly be a consideration, with many people anticipating that the cost of live-in care will be comparable to, or even exceed, the costs of a place in a care home.

In fact, care at home works out slightly less costly than residential care, with even more significant savings to be made where a carer is looking after a couple in their own home, rather than one person.

With no house to sell and no downsizing required, the cost of care in the home works out to be considerably cheaper than moving your loved one into a care home. The added bonus is that they can continue to enjoy their favourite pastimes, hobbies and events, with none of the associated upheavals that a move to a new home involves.