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Private home care or a care home: Which is better?

If you’re considering care for a loved one, the future can seem daunting. With 97 per cent of adults unwilling to go into a care home, it makes sense to be aware of the alternatives. In fact, for many older people, care at home may be the best option.

Care home or home care?

Historically, a care home was the only option for elderly care and those with complex care needs. A modern care home is a residential facility that a loved may move into on a temporary or permanent basis when they need 24-hour care.

However, home care or care at home is by far the preferred option for the majority of older people. Professional and fully trained carers can provide live in support or companion care. Or they can drop in several times a week to support independent living.

The care you need

Most older people prefer to remain independent for as long as possible. That means remaining in their home and maintaining their routine. This requires care provision which is flexible and adaptable and allows a loved one to access the right level of care and support for their needs.

However, if living at home is no longer a viable option a care home may be the only alternative. Unfortunately, the quality of residential homes can vary widely and you may find that the options available in your area are unsuitable for your loved one. In contrast, support at home can be tailored to meet the needs of a loved one, even when their circumstances change.

Dulcie’s story

Dulcie is one of our longest serving customers. In this short video, she talks through the reasons behind her, and her family’s decision to choose full-time home care rather than the care home.

Maintaining health and wellbeing

Care homes can provide constant care and support and much needed social contact for older people at risk of becoming isolated. But the move from familiar surroundings into an institution can cause distress and trauma that adversely affects general health. Several studies have shown that ‘move trauma’ can cause a decline in health and that mortality rates are higher for care homes than for older people receiving care in their own home.

By contrast, studies on older people remaining in their own homes and receiving companion care show a positive impact on health and wellbeing. Care in the home can also aid recuperation and avoid a worsening of medical symptoms. That’s why it’s central to the World Health Organisation’s elderly care strategy.

Maintaining independence

Moving into a residential care home can open up new friendships and new opportunities with supervised outings and visits. But this comes at the cost of remaining at home surrounded by family and friends and often much-loved pets. Even if your loved one agrees to move into residential care, they may be far from familiar faces. Most care homes don’t allow pets which can be another painful separation.

Being supported at home with companion care means that there is a far lower risk of a loved one becoming lonely and depressed. Some carers specialise in looking after pets and will make sure that a dog is walked daily and a cat looked after.

The best option for dementia care

If a loved one can no longer live safely at home, then a care home may be the only solution. However, in a recent report for the British Geriatric Society, over 40 per cent of those living with dementia could not access specialised support services in their care home. It can also be stressful for those living with dementia to live with other people who exhibit challenging behaviours.

Recent research shows that living at home is beneficial for people living with dementia and recommends that they should be cared for at home if possible. Your loved one will have more opportunities for social interaction, to be fit and active and to maintain familiar routines. Being surrounded by memories and other stimuli in familiar surroundings is an important way to maintain independence and quality of life.

What are the costs?

Residential care is becoming more expensive and many of the homes with the best facilities are beyond the budget of most families. Care homes partially funded through state subsidy may be cheaper but almost invariably have long waiting lists. Specialist nursing homes are more expensive again, by up to £10,000 a year on average.

Having a loved one cared for in their own home is a cost-effective alternative, even more so where a couple requires care. Not only is personal care at home cheaper and more effective, but the value of a loved one’s home will not be included as an asset when applying for public funding.

Finding the right care for your loved one

If you’d prefer your loved one to remain in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible, finding the right carer is essential. Having a loved one looked after by a carer puts you both in control of the situation. You can view references and interview potential carers. You might even arrange a trial session to make sure that the relationship will work for everyone involved.

It’s important that any decisions on long term care are made with your loved one. Finding a carer yourself can be a complicated process when you want the peace of mind of knowing that your loved one is in good hands. That’s where Elder can help. By performing the essential background checks and matching your loved one with a carer they can trust and to whom they can relate through shared values and interests, Elder makes sure that your loved one receives the quality of care they need in their own home.

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