Live-in care – everything you need to know

Live-in care is the new standard in elderly support that provides full-time care in your own home. In this guide, we run through everything you need to know to put it in place.

Quick overview

Live-in carers are experienced to care for a range of needs, including personal care and supporting those living with chronic conditions or things that impact daily life, such as dementia, hearing loss, vision loss or limited mobility.

It can provide better value for money as you’ll have your own dedicated carer. Plus, the value of your home is excluded from the financial means test if you’re applying for council funding, which may increase your chances of receiving financial support.

It enables people to stay in their homes, maintain their routine and live independently for longer, and is increasingly linked with a range of better health outcomes – which we’ll cover in more detail below.

What is live-in care?

Live-in care involves a dedicated, full-time, carer moving into the home to support with care needs as well as domestic tasks.

It allows you or a loved one to remain as independent as possible, and can be a cost-effective alternative to more traditional care options – such as moving into a care home.

A live-in carer can provide support with a number of things – from getting to the toilet and medication prompting, to housekeeping tasks and companionship.

If you’re looking at care options for yourself or a loved one but are uncomfortable with the idea of a residential home, live-in care could be the solution. Live-in care fees are often comparable with care homes, with the additional benefit of receiving one-to-one personalised care from a dedicated carer, in the most familiar environment.

We know that deciding on the best care type can be a challenging task, so we’ve detailed everything you need to know about live-in care in this guide.

What does a live-in carer do?

Live-in caregivers perform a range of domestic and personal care duties to support wellbeing. Exactly what your carer will support with will be bespoke to your care requirements, but common tasks include – 

Why choose Elder live-in care?

For many people, home means everything, it’s part of who they are. Live-in care from Elder allows them to keep that crucial element of their life, while also benefiting from –

More choice

We’ll help you handpick a great companion from thousands of background checked and and competency assessed carers.

More control

Whether you need emergency care in the next 24 hours or are planning ahead, we can help you take control and get everything in place.

More support

Our support specialists and clinical team are here to listen, guide, and empower 7 days a week.

More value

No surcharges, no hidden costs, and no joining fees– just truly personalised care.

Talk to one of our team to learn more

Who chooses live-in care?

Live-in care is an excellent option for anyone who has care needs but wants to keep their current lifestyle for as long as they can. It’s an alternative option for those with a variety of complex care needs – including those who live with vision or hearing loss, have survived a stroke, or are living with dementia. It’s available for individuals and couples.

Those currently receiving domiciliary care

It may be that you or loved one has been receiving domiciliary care but visits throughout the day are no longer sufficient, and more care is required. Live-in care is different – providing round-the-clock support – rather than a just few visits throughout the day, a carer will move into the home  – often working on a four weeks on, one week off, basis, with a respite carer stepping in when it’s time to take their break.

Those currently in a care home

Sometimes, we find people come to us when they’ve tried residential care but are unable to settle in an institution surrounded by so many other people, or are just much happier in their own home. If you’re in a similar situation, we’ll work with any health and social care professionals to get you or your loved one home safely with one-to-one care.

Peggy’s dementia meant she found it difficult to settle in and feel comfortable in a care home. Here, her daughter Jill shares how Peggy felt much more herself again back at home with the support of her live-in carer Jennifer.  

Couples that want to stay together

It can be a huge, life-changing moment to have a partner of many years move into residential care. Live-in care can provide care for couples within their own four walls. It means everyone can be looked after. If only one of a couple has care needs, you can add spousal support to your care arrangement for a small fee, which means your carer will provide housekeeping support for both members of the household. 

Those being discharged from hospital

If you or a loved one is in hospital, you may need to have care in place before being discharged. In this case, the only real alternative to a residential or nursing home is to arrange care within their own home. We may even be able to arrange for the carer to meet at hospital to help ensure they get home safely if needed.

Those requiring specialist care 

Because live-in care is one-to-one, 24-hour care it can be ideal for those living with a wide range of medical conditions. It can provide tailored support to minimise and manage dementia symptoms, and can help those who have experienced life changing conditions such as a stroke, heart attack or hip fracture to regain a sense of normality and independence. 

How much does live-in care cost?

Live-in care costs can vary between different areas and across providers. There are some common misconceptions around live-in care being beyond the reach of many, however, live-in care can be a very cost-effective care option.

What’s more, if you know where to look, there are various sources of funding that may help cover some of the cost of live-in care. Take a look at our guide to funding here. 

Some people may require specialist support, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia care, or help with conditions such as Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis. 

For such situations, a live-in carer will need experience or specialist skills in caring for people with that particular condition, which may come with a slightly higher cost. At Elder each customer completes a care profile before care begins. This comprehensive assessment of care needs is reviewed by our internal clinical team to ensure full-time care can be delivered safely by a professional live-in carer. 

Included in the cost of live-in care from a professional caregiver is the work that goes into ensuring they’re a good match in terms of personality, interests and background This is crucial, as finding the right carer can help you to build up a stronger connection, find common ground, grow comfortable together. 

You may need to cover certain expenses to modify the property. Thankfully, help is available. Everyone is entitled to up to £1,500 from their local authority for minor changes to the home, and potentially more if their needs are more serious. Find out more in our home adaptations guide.

Elder’s pricing 

Live-in care with Elder can start from £1095 for one person, and guarantees no hidden charges for weekends or bank holidays. There’s also no additional costs for joining us or our carer matching service, or finding a suitable respite carer when it’s time for your main carer to take a break. The fee you pay for your care will be based on the level of care you need, so you’ll never pay more than you have too. For an individual care quote, give our care advisors a call. 

With Elder you’ll only pay for additional services if you need them. If you require a carer with a car, or someone who can provide additional spousal support, we’ll add these to your package only when requested. One thing you will need to make arrangements for is your carer’s weekly food budget. You can do this by working it out directly with the carer, or you can simply ask one of our team to provide a managed food budget. We’d typically suggest £40 per week towards your carer’s meals. 

We’ don’t believe in charging extra for things that should be included as standard – 

No joining fees
No lengthy contract or exit fees
We only require a two week notice period
Up to 2x nightly wake ups includes
With both full-time and short-term live-in care
We accept both Local authority and NHS funding
A one week trial period
Cancel care anytime in the first 7 days, and only pay for the care you've received
No exit fees within cooling off period
No surcharges on Bank Holidays or weekends

Help with funding

In some cases, you may be able to receive full or partial funding from the local council. To get started, you need to speak directly to social services and complete a care needs assessment and financial assessment to work out if you’re eligible. 

Once this is completed, you should be able to request to receive any funding you’re entitled to as a direct payment, or Self Directed Support if you’re in Scotland. This puts you in control of how you spend it. The payments must be enough to provide quality care for the needs that your local authority has assessed you as having. However, if your preferred choice of care provider is more expensive than your Local Authority’s ‘recommendation’, then, it’ll be down to your family to cover the shortfall. 

Local authority funding isn’t the only source from which funding is available. It’s important to know and understand what you’re entitled to – particularly when it comes to claiming elderly benefits. 

Other options for funding are –

  • Downsizing
  • Lifetime mortgages
  • Home reversion plans
  • NHS Continuing Healthcare

 

To find out more about funding and start exploring your options, we’ve shared useful links and resources here. 

 

How to arrange live-in care

If you’ve decided that live-in care is the best option for you, there are three main routes you can go down when arranging it – arranging it privately (as in making an informal arrangement or hiring directly), arranging it through a fully-managed agency, or with an introductory agency (such as Elder). There are advantages and disadvantages to each, depending on the level of control or input you’d like

While private live-in care may be the initial go-to for many people, as it allows families to choose a carer they know and trust – sometimes a family member or friend – it can have many unexpected legal obligations which can be stressful.

Private live-in care

Private live-in care generally refers to the process of employing a carer yourself.

For many families, a private carer is a friend or family member. This usually means the person receiving care is already familiar and comfortable with them and doesn’t need too much time to adjust. However, when arranged informally it can pose some drawbacks too. For example you may need to manage their employment and holidays, or write up a contract, which can cause tension within existing relationships. 

When going down the route of professional private care – hiring a carer directly that you don’t already know, you’ll likely be legally responsible for things such as sick pay, holiday entitlements and paying a living wage. It’s also important to do relevant background checks to ensure they’re the right person for the job.

Not only that but you also have the responsibility of providing employment contracts, taking out the right  insurance, and sorting out respite care when your carer takes a break.

Arranging care with an agency can mean more peace of mind and less hassle in the long term. 

What is a live-in care agency?

While there are an increasing number of companies offering a live-in option, a specialist agency is best able to facilitate this.

The goal of a live-in care agency is to connect people to personalised care and support – while understanding the complexities of arranging care.

There are two main types of live-in care company – either a fully-managed company or an introductory agency.

What is a fully managed live-in care agency?

A fully-managed live-in care agency is regulated by one of three independent bodies in Great Britain – the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in England, The Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW), or The Care Inspectorate Scotland (CIS).

Generally, carers are direct employees of their company, meaning the company manages your carer’s pay, benefits, holidays and pension.

A fully-managed agency will take responsibility for recruiting and provide standardised training carers to their carers. They also undertake background checks and DBS screenings to ensure all documents and references are accurate.

Companies providing this service generally charge more than introductory agencies, as the fee includes all the elements of care planning and management too – a fee that’s determined in an assessment. In contrast, introductory agencies are more flexible in costs – meaning they tend to have lower fees.

This difference in fee doesn’t necessarily affect the quality of care, however it’s worth bearing in mind that because they’ll take a more hands on approach to planning how your care works each day, and rely on a staff of care workers, the continuity of care you receive may be prone to change, and you may not have as much say over how you or your loved one is cared for, or whether things are done a certain way. 

What is an introductory agency?

Elder is defined by the CQC as an introductory agency, in line with the Health & Social Care Act 2008. This is a model that falls outside the scope of the CQC’s regulations, but is still recognised by them.

Rather than employ the carers we work with, we match customers who require care with self-employed care professionals from Elder’s network of 5000+ carers. Each carer in our network still undergoes the same checks that regulated providers do. These include a robust recruitment process, including enhanced DBS and PVG checks, ensuring a minimum of two professional references are provided, and that every carer passes our situational and decision making assessments. They must also complete a face to face video interview with our carer onboarding team.

All the live-in carers on the Elder platform are contracted directly with your family, and work alongside you, your family, or your local council to manage and deliver the day-to-day care.

Introduction agencies don’t have an “ongoing role in the direction or control of the service provided”. However, this doesn’t impact the level of service Elder-approved carers provide on a day-to-day basis. And, in terms of helping you manage your care, we go above and beyond what many other introductory agencies offer – with a comprehensive online account to help you manage care, support seven days a week from your own family support specialists, and on-going guidance from our internal clinical team. 

We find this service usually suits families who really want care to take place at home but don’t mind taking on a bit of extra responsibility to keep costs down and stay in control of the overall experience.

How Elder works

As a live-in care agency, we’re experienced in understanding the care needs of individuals and their families, before introducing them to a carer who suits both their care needs and personality type.

We understand that to have someone live in your home is a big step, which is why we ensure, through our matching service, that your opinions and preferences are all considered, as well as the views of the rest of the family. It means we can help find an experienced carer who’ll suit your situation for the long-term.

You, the family, always get final say on the carer. You’ll have the chance to read all about their experience through their carer profiles, watch their introductory video and even have a Zoom call with them to be sure they’re the right fit. Your first week with us is also a no-strings trial period, meaning you can cancel or switch carers instantly. 

And while introductory agencies can’t provide standardised training to carers, every carer working with Elder has free access to an e-learning platform, where they can gain new skills and qualifications in things like Moving and Handling, Food Safety, Mental Health, and Dysphagia. 

Live-in housekeeper and daily visiting carers 

For people who require extra help around the house, but may not need full-time care, a live-in housekeeper or a daily visiting carer can be a good option. These professionals can help with daily household tasks, such as cleaning, as well as preparing meals and cooking. This can be great for those with limited mobility, and allows an extra level of support and companionship in the home. 

The benefits of live-in care

Live-in care has many benefits for both you and your loved ones.

It’s consistent, around-the-clock care, offering peace of mind for family and friends who can’t be there themselves, as well as dedicated, bespoke care to the person being supported.  Because it’s provided by one full-time carer, it offers consistency of care, and builds a level of trust and friendship between the carer and receiver. 

But it also has a number of other benefits you should consider such as financial and social benefits.

Financial benefits

Often, live-in care is thought to be an expensive option however there are actually numerous financial benefits to live-in care.

With live-in care, your property is excluded from any financial means test

A big advantage of live-in care is that it gives people a better chance of keeping the family home, as the local authority financial assessment excludes your loved one’s property (as they’re still living in it).

For example, imagine you have £25,000 in the bank, alongside a property worth £500,000 – with live-in care you would need to deplete the £25,000 down to £23,500 to start receiving state assistance from your local authority.

However, if you were to opt for residential care, in a care home, you would need to deplete both the £25,000 savings and the £500,000 property price to a net value of £23,500 to receive assistance.

While having to make home adaptations can be a financial concern, there’s home adaptation money available to assist, should you opt for live-in care.

 

Social Benefits

You or your loved one can keep up with hobbies and interests such as attending events or local clubs. In addition, it allows people to arrange their social life on their own terms.

You can continue to visit regular clubs, events or places of worship. You can continue to see friends and family as you please and there’s no reason your social life should change dramatically just because you need care.

Live-in carers provide the support required to facilitate and enable people to continue to do the things they love.

Not only does live-in care help maintain friendships, but it can also help build friendships and offer companionship for those who may otherwise be lonely. Many find that they build meaningful relationships with their private live-in carer, and are appreciative of having constant care and company in their home.

Patricia's story

Live-in care helped Patricia stay connected to her much loved singing group. Her daughter Joanne spoke to us about how Patricia’s carer Rose has helped her get out and about and retain her nickname as ‘the dancing diva’. 

Often, we find carers and loved ones go on days out together too. Research by Live-in Care Hub shows that those who receive care at home are significantly less likely to become housebound.

 

Health benefits

There is a range of health benefits associated with live-in care too.

It’s estimated that half of over 80s fall at least once a year.  Live-in care has been linked with a reduction in falls, with a report suggesting people who are cared for at home experience a third fewer falls than care home residents. in comparison to residential care. Research also indicates that someone is almost 3x more likely to experience a hip fracture if they are in a care home than if they receive live-in care in their own home.

In addition, staying in your home allows you to remain with the same GP, which not only provides comfort – but has also been linked to living longer.

Live-in care can also be incredibly beneficial to help people leave hospital sooner – which can be critically important to retaining mobility. Studies have shown that a 10-day stay in hospital can lead to up to a 10% decrease in lean leg mass, in healthy older adults. With it being estimated that you can lose 1% of muscle mass for every day spent in bed, getting home, into an environment where you’re supported in moving around, can help break this cycle.

 

Lifestyle benefits

Live-in care allows people to stay in control for longer. They’re able to maintain their routine and stay in familiar surroundings complete with their belongings, treasures and pets.

Being able to stay in their own home allows people more choice – choice around what meals they want to eat and how they want to spend their day. Whether that be fish and chip Fridays or a roast dinner on a Sunday – routine can be maintained.

This can be especially important for those with dementia as it may help keep feelings of confusions and frustration at bay. Maintaining routine and doing things which are familiar can act as a form of reminiscence – an important part of dementia therapy.

2022 Research by the Live in Care Hub also found that unfortunately, due to the on-going impact of the covid-19 pandemic, many care home residents have lost basic freedoms, such as popping to the shops. In fact, in 1/4 of homes surveyed, residents were not allowed out of the grounds for a walk. Live-in care ensures a person’s routine and lifestyle are protected. 

Who can benefit from live-in care?

Live-in care can be beneficial for anybody with low to mid level care needs. It means someone is there 24/7 to help them stay happy and well looked after – providing comfort and companionship as well as helping with day-to-day tasks maintaining safety. 

 

Some of the most common conditions we help arrange care for include – 

As well as being beneficial for those with various complex conditions, it’s an ideal choice for couples who wish to stay together. Research by Age UK found that elderly people are 1.6 times more likely to experience loneliness if they live alone. Live-in care allows couples to stay together in their home for longer.

Types of live-in care

Live-in care includes different types of home care for various care needs and conditions. Here we run through some of the most common arrangements we help families to put in place.

24-hour live-in care

24-hour live-in care is available for those with more advanced care needs. If you or your loved one requires around the clock care – day and night – then 24-hour care would provide you with the reassurance they’re being consistently cared for.

While all live-in carers are on-hand 24-hours per day, you may need further assistance for more intensive care needs. 24-hour live-in care involves two carers, ensuring someone is actively providing care 24-hours a day.

Complex live-in care

For complex conditions such as dementia and Parkinson’s, complex live-in care is ideal for ensuring you or your loved one receives specialist support from a carer with considerable skills and experience in caring for specific conditions. 

Companionship care

With loneliness in the elderly becoming a concern, it’s essential to ensure older loved ones are happy, secure and cared for. Companionship care provides a friend to talk to, who can help with tricky errands and keeping in touch with friends and family.

Convalescent care

Having the extra care and support needed after a surgery or hospital stay is important. Convalescent care is a short-term care solution, allowing people to receive the care they need, after illness or injury, in their own home.

Emergency home care

This type of care plays an important role should your primary carer become ill or need to take respite at short notice. Emergency home care is a type of live-in care that’s available at short notice, to get the right support in place as quickly as possible – often under 24 hours.

Intermediate care

The NHS provides intermediate care for a period of up to six weeks, following a hospital stay and with the purpose of rehabilitation. You can make your wishes known to receive this type of care at home and recovers in your own space.

Overnight care

Overnight care can help to ensure you or your loved one is safe, comfortable and secure overnight. A carer will be on hand to support with anything from incontinence to providing reassurance or dealing with challenging behaviour.

Respite care

Respite care is where a substitute carer steps in for a limited amount of time. It allows primary caregivers to take time for themselves and their wellbeing, while helping to ensure minimal disruption in routine.

Palliative care

For people facing life-limiting conditions, palliative care at home can help to ensure people living with these illnesses remain supported, comforted and cared for in their own home. It’s all about ensuring every single moment of someone’s life is maximised.

Each of these care types has people and conditions they’re more suitable for. There’s no right or wrong answer, it’s all about finding the option that best fits with your loved one’s needs and wishes.

For those with substantial care needs, nursing care is likely to be recommended by health and social care professionals overlooking your or your loved one’s situation.

 

What are the limits of what live-in carers can do?

It’s important to note that live-in carers are social care professionals, not nursing professionals.

They’re able to support with personal care tasks such as washing, diary planning and household tasks, but are unable to perform tasks undertaken by a medical professional. If you’re unsure if live-in care is right for your needs, click the button below to schedule a no-obligation call with an Elder care advisor. 

Who are Elder-approved carers?

At Elder, we understand it can be difficult to let someone you don’t know into your home, which is why we vet every care professional we work with to the highest standards. Read their stories by clicking the button below.

If you’re experienced in providing high-quality care, why not join our community of live in carers? View and apply for our latest carer jobs here. 

We’ve connected people to carers in 500+ locations across Great Britain

Whether you’re looking for long-term live-in care or respite care, we’ll connect you to trusted carers with the right skills and experience.

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