Care home or home care?

If you or an elderly or disabled loved one needs extra support, there are plenty of options available for care in the UK. But choosing between home care or care homes can be a difficult choice. Both options aim to provide tailored care and assistance, but they vary in services, costs and approach. Keep reading to find out the advantages and disadvantages of each to help you make an informed decision.

What is a care home?

A care home is a residence that provides housing and care for those who need extra support with their daily lives. Residents are usually elderly, disabled or could be recovering from an illness or surgery. The term covers two categories of accommodation for people who may face challenges living on their own:

  • residential care homes; and
  • nursing homes.

The main difference between the two types of care home is the level of medical care provided. Residential care homes provide accommodation and some degree of personal care. While nursing homes provide medical care from qualified healthcare professionals.

Advantages of care homes

There are several benefits to choosing a care home for yourself or an elderly or disabled loved one.

  • 24/7 supervised care - trained staff can respond to emergencies and provide assistance day and night, offering security and peace of mind. This can be especially useful for anyone with a condition that requires constant monitoring.
  • Social interaction - access to group activities and communal spaces might encourage residents to leave their private rooms. This could prevent loneliness and isolation.
  • Regular monitoring - staff can monitor resident’s health and ensure conditions remain stable, relieving pressure from the resident and their loved ones.
  • Assistance with daily living - staff are available to support residents with everyday tasks like bathing, dressing, eating and mobility.
  • Specialist support - some care homes cater to specific conditions such as dementia or support with physiotherapy needs.

Disadvantages of care homes

While care homes have many benefits, there are also some disadvantages to consider.

  • Potential loss of independence - residents must follow rules and schedules set by staff. Living in a care home also means giving up a significant amount of independence which some residents may find challenging. For others, this level of support may be a welcome relief.
  • Potential lack of privacy - while residents have their own private room and bathroom, they have to share communal spaces with others. For some, the lack of privacy could be uncomfortable.
  • Risk of isolation - living apart from family and away from an established community could leave residents feeling isolated.
  • High costs - the average cost of a residential care home in the UK is £1,160 per week, for a nursing home it’s £1,410. Many individuals or families have to finance this themselves.

Financial support is available when caring for your loved ones or if someone is caring for you. Depending on your means, you may be eligible for partial or full financial assistance through the NHS. Your local council will be able to help you find out if you qualify.

What is home care?

Home care refers to a broad range of services provided in your own home or that of your loved one. These services can include medical care, such as nursing or physical therapy, as well as meal preparation and housekeeping.

Home care is tailored to the needs of the individual and can vary from a few hours a week to full-time care.

Advantages of home care

There are many benefits to opting for care within the home.

  • Independence - you or your loved one can continue living at home in comfortable surroundings. Keeping this sense of independence can have a huge impact on mental health and wellbeing.
  • Flexibility - care hours can be increased or adjusted as needs change.
  • Familiarity - you or your loved one can remain connected to the community, allowing you or them to keep as much familiarity as possible.
  • Personalised care - services can be customised and more personal with you or your loved one receiving one-on-one support from a caregiver.
  • Lower cost - for those that need a relatively light amount of support, home care can be more affordable. You’d only pay for the hours of care needed, unlike a care home where you’d be paying for 24/7 support.

Disadvantages of home care

Now let’s take a look at some of the considerations.

  • Lack of continuous supervision - with home care, there’s no 24/7 support if you or your loved one needed urgent help outside of the caring hours.
  • Caregiver inconsistencies - different carers may visit the home rather than one regular helper.
  • Limitations in medical care - if you or your loved one had complicated health issues, it might not be possible to receive treatment at home, where there’s less access to specialist help.
  • Costs can add up - while cheaper per hour than care homes, weekly costs for round-the-clock home care quickly multiply. Especially if you or your loved one need a lot of support.

When deciding between the two options, make sure you consider key factors such as:

  • the level of care needed;
  • health conditions and any special circumstances;
  • cost differences and access to financial support;
  • availability in your local area;
  • the level of practical support your family and friends are able to provide;
  • safety and supervision; and most importantly
  • the care recipient’s preferences.

Take time to research, schedule visits and seek support from professionals to help with your decision making. In the UK, both care homes and home care agencies are regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). So either option allows for tailored care in a safe and supportive environment.

If you’re interested in learning more about looking after family members, what to do when expecting a baby, or family problems like illness, divorce or bereavement, head to our Family and Care section.

Risk warning

As always with investments, your capital is at risk. The value of your investment can go down as well as up, and you may get back less than you invest. This information should not be regarded as financial advice.

Last edited: 20-05-2024

Don’t forget your own finances

Get started in minutes. Combine your old pensions online, today.

Get started now

Mobile PensionBee analytics chart
Mobile PensionBee analytics chart
Apple Store logo Google Store logo

Have a question?Call our UK team020 3457 8444

Monday-Friday: 9:30am-5pm