Live-in care or visiting care – which is right for me?

Written by Zenya Smith16/02/23


Live-in care

Choosing the right domiciliary care is a big decision, and it can be a difficult one too. There are a lot of home care services available and finding the right one starts with sitting down and taking an in-depth look at your needs. This means looking at what daily life is like now, and what you’d like and need to change. 

Ultimately, whether you’re choosing live-in care or visiting care, the purpose of care at home is to help you or your loved one stay as independent as possible and enjoy a good quality of life. Carers can help with a wide range of  everyday tasks, such as –

  • Getting out of bed
  • Washing and dressing 
  • Toileting 
  • Providing medication reminders 
  • Preparing meals 
  • Cleaning 
  • Pet care 
  • Getting to appointments 
  • Providing companionship
  • Attending clubs and social events 
  • Running errands


In this article we’ll look at the pros and cons of both live-in care and visiting care, and hear from Elder customer’s who’ve experienced both. 

What is visiting care? 

Visiting care involves a professional carer coming to your or your loved ones home at agreed times either daily, or throughout the week. Care workers can help people with things they find physically difficult, things they may struggle to remember to do, or things they’re worried about doing on their own. This can include personal care tasks, such as getting washed and dressed, as well as domestic tasks like meal preparation and laundry. 

The length of time a visit lasts will depend on how much help you need, but most commonly, each visit lasts between 30 minutes and a couple of hours. Some people arrange a few visits a day, such as one in the morning and one in the evening to help with morning and bedtime routines. 

Visiting care is usually suited to those who are fairly able, and can safely spend time at home on their own. 

For more information on what to expect during a home care visit, take a look at our article. 

Pros of visiting care services 

  • Affordable alternative if you need less day to day support 
  • Helps people maintain their independence in their own home 
  • Regular visits can be arranged to fit in around your existing daily routine 
  • It can be a good option for respite care as you adjust to life after a brief stay in hospital
  • Frees up time for family members

Cons of visiting care services 

  • Spending periods of time at home alone may be isolating for those who’ve lost a spouse, or aren’t able to get out about as much as they used to.
  • Carers may sometimes be delayed by things like traffic, train cancellations, or if another client visit takes longer than expected 
  • If using care agencies, you may not be supported by the same carer every time, which may mean a less personalised care experience 
  • Support isn’t around the clock, meaning it may not be suitable to those who are prone to falls or bouts of confusion 
  • May not be suitable in the long-term for people with progressive health conditions such as dementia

"I had been using my care provider for a year, however, I wasn't finding the service good and started looking for an alternative in November 2022. They would often mix up my schedule. For example, they would show up at the wrong time or day, which was very annoying. When I raised the issue, no changes were made."

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 live an independent life while ensuring you get the right level of support for your needs. If you need care or companionship more consistently throughout the day it and can be a cost-effective alternative to more traditional care options – such as moving into a care home. It also means you can avoid the emotional upheaval of moving or downsizing. 

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. Live-in care professionals can also help a person remain part of their community and get out and about as much as they like – free from the time constraints of a care visit. This could mean popping to the shops, visiting the hairdressers, or going to social clubs. 

Live-in carers will stay with you or your loved one for a few weeks at a time, before taking a week off. During this break, a respite carer will move in and provide quality care until the main carer returns. 

Pros of live-in care services 

  • Helps people who need a mid to high level of care remain independent in their own home
  • Provides one-to-one care from a dedicated carer
  • High continuity of care, you’ll be supported by the same full-time carer and have a greater opportunity to build up a bond
  • Highly personalised care – your carer will learn and adapt to your routine and preferred ways of doing things
  • Provides occasional assistance during the night, such as if a person needs help getting to the toilet, or wakes up confused
  • Frees up time and provides peace of mind to families 

Cons of live-in care services 

  • It can take some people a while to get used to having someone living in their home 
  • You’ll need to a spare room for the carer to sleep in. If you don’t have a spare bedroom this may mean adapting a reception room. 
  • Care costs can be higher than scheduled care visits as you’re getting round the clock care 

Live-in care facts 

Compared to residential care, those receiving live-in care experience almost one-third fewer falls.* With 50% of over 80s fall at least once a year, having someone in the home full time can help keep people safe at home 

It helps older people manage the care of their much loved pets. 17.4% of people would hide that they’re struggling so that they didn’t have to go into a home and leave their pets*

98% of people receiving live-in care say it’s helped them have a better quality of life.*

* The Live-in Care Hub – Better at Home Report 

Moving from daily visits to live-in care – Wendy’s story

Mum has been disabled for a few years now. She used to have hourly care visits, but last summer she sadly fell and broke her wrist and her hip.

She was in hospital for three months in the end. It was then decided by the NHS and family that it was no longer safe for her to live alone – her mobility just wasn’t the same.

I wasn’t sure how to go about finding full-time care. I just knew Mum didn’t want to go to a care home. I searched care at home online and came across Elder. The reviews looked great and I decided to give them a call and spoke to Gus (a family advisor).

The carer is important, because it’s different if someone is just popping in a few times a day but when it’s live-in care, you take it more seriously. The main thing for me was having carers who are genuinely caring and really listen to Mum.

Elder sent over the profile and video for a carer called Violet, which reassured me that she was definitely worth meeting. When she arrived she came across as so lovely and cheerful. When Violet took a break, we found our respite carer, called Suleekha. She has been brilliant too.

Violet and Suleekha have both got to know Mum’s ways now and she has got to know them. They’re both such warm personalities and they’re always smiling and having fun with mum. They are like part of the family now and we hope we can continue to have them for a long time.

Care with Elder 

  • More choice – From over 5000 self-employed carers, we’ll uniquely match you with carers based on your needs, preferences and interests. You can chat directly to any carer you’re interested in, and will always get to choose who provides your care. 
  • More control – With your own MyElder account you can shape exactly what care looks like for you day to day – setting your own routine and outlining where you need help, and what you’d like to do for yourself. 
  • More value – You’ll never be charged a joining fee, or extra for up to 2 wake ups per night. We also don’t charge a fee for our carer matching process. This includes if your needs change and you need to find an alternative carer with different skills, or when you need a respite carer to step in when your full-time care takes a break
  • More support – We offer a range of guides and online support tools to help you get the most out of life with live-in care. We also have a dedicated team on hand to support with questions seven days a week. 


Read more later life articles 

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