What is live-in care?

Written by Zenya Smith 13/11/23


Live-in care

You may be wondering what exactly live-in care means and how a live-in carer can help to look after you or a loved one. In this article we’ll walk you though how live-in care works and what you can expect day-to-day when you have 24/7 support. 

What is live-in care?

Live-in care means having an experienced carer move into a spare room in your home. They’ll live with you – offering support in any areas you need throughout the day, and sleeping when you sleep during the night. Their goal is to help you stay as comfortable and independent as possible in your own home. 

Live-in care provides constant care, without the upheaval of moving into a residential care home. Those receiving live-in care can stick to a familiar routine, keep any much loved pets, and see friends and family when they want. 

All care is a compromise between people wanting to get on with things, and getting the support they need. Ultimately, live-in care is an option that minimises the change involved when this compromise becomes inevitable. 

Did you know?

According to the Live in Care Hub 61% of people would like to stay in their own home if they reached a point where they could no longer live safely by themselves. 

Who is live-in care suitable for? 

Sometimes people choose live-in care when the hourly care they’ve had in place is no longer enough and a person needs more than a a couple of hours of care a day to stay safe and well. Sometimes, a person has tried residential care but is unable to settle in an institution surrounded by so many other people, and is much happier in their own home.

Peggy’s Story 

“Peggy’s home is the most important thing in the world to her. She did go for a short stay in a care home, and it made her more confused, she seemed bewildered.

She suffers from dementia so wasn’t able to say which clothes were hers, so she wasn’t always wearing her own clothes when I visited. She has never been very extroverted, so the social side of things just didn’t work for her either. I really just hated her being there.”

Read more 


Elderly couples with different care needs often find live-in care to be the most suitable and cost-effective way for them to stay living together.

If you or a loved one is in hospital, you may need to have care in place before being discharged to ensure they can recover safely. In this case, the only real alternative to a residential or nursing home is to arrange for private care from a resident carer in their own home.

Many families have found live-in care to be the best option too. For family members who live far away, work full-time, or have children to look after, it can bring a lot of peace of mind knowing someone is with their loved one around the clock.

What level of care can live-in carers provide? 

Live-in care is suitable for a wide range of needs and medical conditions. This is because you’ll usually just have one full-time carer (or two if you need full-time overnight care too) who’ll take the time to learn all about you and deliver one-to-one support shaped around your unique needs.

Live-in carers have a plethora of specialist care skills and experience too. For example, the majority of carers on the Elder platform are experienced in caring and communicating with people with dementia, supporting people through complex conditions such as stroke recovery, or providing compassionate palliative care towards the end of someone’s life. 

Carers can also offer support to those with lower level care needs. Companionship care can become incredibly important in later life as Age UK estimate that over a million older people can go a week or more without speaking to a family member or friend. Living with a chronic illness or mobility issue, or having lost a spouse can cause older people to feel lonely and impact their quality of life. A live-in carer can offer friendship, offer a listening ear whenever it’s needed, and help an older person get out and about to see friends and feel part of their local community.  

Does a live in carer work 7 days a week?

Yes. Don’t worry, many people can get confused about how live in care works. Whilst the exact schedule may differ depending on your needs, typically live-in carers provide care seven days a week for around four weeks at a time. On the fifth week, they’ll take a week off to return to their own homes to rest. During this rest week, a respite carer will move in to cover their duties until the regular carer returns. The the cycle repeats. 

Live-in carers provide full-time care throughout the day – usually working up to 10 hours, and sleep during the night when you do. Of course, your carer will be able to help with occasional night-time disturbances, however if these start to become more frequent you may need to look into getting a dedicated night carer so that your live-in carer can get enough rest at night. At Elder our standard live-in care service includes up to two disturbances a night, each lasting no longer than 15 minutes. This ensures the fully vetted and approved carers on our platform can sleep well and feel fresh for the next day. 

What does A live-In carer do?

Live-in carers will adjust to the routine, likes, and dislikes of the person they’re caring for, and only help where they’re needed to help older people stay as independent as possible. While the exact tasks each carer takes on will be different, an average day with live-in care may look something like this –


8:00am: The carer (Vicky) gently wakes the person they’re caring for (Rita), and brings them a cup of tea. 

8.30am: Vicky help Rita get out of bed and safely into bathroom, offering a supportive hand to Rita as she uses the toilet, gets in and out the shower, and brushes her teeth. 

9:00am: Vicky helps Rita to look her best by styling her hair in Rita’s favourite way, and or doing up the fiddly buttons on her clothes.

9.30am: Vicky prepares a nutritious breakfast and sits down so they can eat it together. Vicky also reminds Rita to take her morning medication with her food. 

10:30am: While Rita enjoys some personal space watching morning television, Vicky does some small household chores – washing the breakfast dishes, changing bedding, and putting some laundry in the machine

11:30am: Vicky and Rita have a cup of tea and chat. The television show Rita’s been watching has reminded her of a holiday she took with her late husband. She reminisces about it with Vicky, and they find some photos to look at together. 


12.45pm: Vicky makes Rita soup and a sandwich for lunch. She also ensures Rita has a big drink to stay hydrated. 


2:00pm: Together they take a short stroll to a nearby shop to pick up the daily paper, chatting along the way. Vicky brings Rita’s dog along for the walk. On some days when it’s too cold or rainy to walk, the two stay indoors and do some exercises together, as directed by Rita’s occupational therapist. 

3:30pm: Back at home, Rita’s friends Pat and Joy come over. The ladies meet each week to knit and crochet together. While the ladies catch up, Vicky takes a break, before completing a few more household tasks –hanging up the laundry and giving the bathroom a quick clean. 

5:00pm: Rita has mild dementia, and can find it a bit confusing when it starts to get dark. Vicky helps manage her sundowning symptoms by closing the curtains and putting on some of Rita’s favourite music. 


6:00pm: Vicky cooks a Shepard’s pie for dinner, using Rita’s family recipe, and serves it with a side of broccoli. They sit down to eat together. 

7:30pm: Rita’s daughter Cath calls round after work and sits with her to hear all about her day. Vicky takes another break, before taking Rita’s dog for a walk and giving him his dinner. 


9:00pm: Vicky helps Rita change into her pyjamas and take care of her personal hygiene – washing her face and brushing her teeth. Rita enjoys reading in bed before going to sleep, so Vicky ensures she has a drink of water and the bedside lamp is in easy reach. 

What a live-in carer needs to know

24-hour live-in care comes with many benefits, and in order to get the best out of live-in care there are a few things which older people should share with their carer in order to have the best possible experience.

Make sure to share things such as:

Favourite meals – Food is an important part of later life – go through the ideal weekly menu.

Daily routine – The basics of what time they get up, eat, wash, get out, and go to bed.

Social calendar – Whether day centres, family visits or clubs, run through their social life.

House rules – Run through any specific customs or rules the carer needs to follow.

Likes/dislikes – Let the carer know of the things that your loved one really loves to do.

Medical, social and emergency contacts – For professionals, such as GP and social workers, and family members. 


What are the benefits of live-in care? 

Dedicated personal care

Personal care is as much about preserving dignity as it is about hygiene and well-being. It can be difficult to accept help with personal hygiene and toileting after a lifetime of managing independently. An older person may feel embarrassed, or find the idea of needing help with personal care tasks patronising. Having the support of a single one-to-one carer who isn’t going to rush them and can let them take the lead can help make the transition more comfortable. 

Familiar surroundings

It’s completely understandable that people who’ve lived in their own home for many years are naturally very reluctant to move, even if they’re aware that they need help with some aspects of their lives. A live-in carer can enable the older person to remain in their own home where they feel comfortable and safe.

This is especially important if your loved one has a complex health condition like dementia. The condition can often cause people to become very upset by changes in their environment. An experienced specialist carer can provide  dementia care – a higher level of support which helps with some of the specific difficulties the condition presents – be it sundowning, mood swings or challenging behaviour.

Did you know?

98% of people receiving live-in care say it helps them have a better quality of life

Help with day-to-day tasks

A live-in carer will also carry out domestic tasks such as shopping, light housework, meal preparation, and ironing. If the person they’re caring for likes things done a certain way, or wants to do some things themselves, the carer can work with them to help find a safe way for them to stay involved.

If you or your loved one has animals, and they need help to with pet care just mention this when arranging care to ensure you’re matched with fellow animal loving carers. Having pets around is not just a mood-booster, it has been linked with an array of healthy benefits.

Even something as simple as answering the door can be difficult – or even impossible – for some older people, but with a dedicated carer there’s always someone to pick up the phone or go to the door. This also provides a vulnerable person, especially those in need of dementia care, with protection against anyone attempting to defraud or deceive them.

A carer can also assist with managing certain aspects of older people’s daily lives, such as hairdressing appointments, doctors appointments/ hospital visits, social outings or shopping trips. 

Many carers can drive, or will otherwise accompany your loved one. This means that the care recipient is able to maintain their independence, their mobility, without feeling they’re imposing on family members.


Health and wellbeing benefits

There are many wellbeing benefits linked to live-in care – many of which arise out of being able to remain in one’s own home.

30% of residential care homes said it was either unlikely or impossible that residents could go outside and walk around the grounds, impacting their sense of freedom, happiness, as well as their mental health.

Live-in care has an array of physical health benefits – research has indicated that live-in care could actually reduce the risk of falling by 33%, and that elderly people are 3 times more likely to experience a hip fracture in a care home than if they receive live-in care in their own homes.  

How can you find a live-in carer?

There are a few ways to find a carer – You can choose to arrange live-in care directly, which means your private carer is employed by yourself and you have legal responsibilities in terms of pay and holidays.

Alternatively, you can choose to arrange live-in care using a carer employed by a care provider or use an introductory care agency such as Elder – which can uniquely match you to the best self-employed carers across Great Britain. 

The introductory service offered by Elder means you can find a carer who complements your needs personality quickly and simply – we carry out the necessary background and suitability checks on all carers, leaving you free to browse, chat to, and choose your favourite.  

Read more live-in care  articles 

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