Care home vs home care: Why choose a care home?

As we age, we’ll likely each need a little care and support at some point. Whether that’s help carrying out day-to-day tasks, or assistance with developing medical conditions, it’s important that we take the time to choose the correct care for ourselves and our loved ones.

What is the difference between a care home and domiciliary care?

Care homes and domiciliary (or “at-home”) care are both types of care provided to individuals who need assistance with daily activities due to age, illness, or disability. However, they differ in terms of where care is delivered, and the level of independence and support provided.

Care homes are residential facilities where individuals live and receive 24-hour care, while domiciliary care involves receiving care and support visits in your own home at a set time or times of the day.

What does at-home care mean?

“At-home care” refers to a type of care service provided to individuals who need assistance with various daily activities but wish to remain in their own homes.

The level of care provided can vary from a few hours a week to 24/7 support, depending on the individual’s needs. Domiciliary care services are usually delivered by trained caregivers, home health aids, or nurses. Care can be customised to match specific requirements and preferences.

What are the benefits of having care at home?

Having domiciliary care offers several benefits for individuals who require assistance with daily activities.

  • Independence and comfort: Receiving care at home allows individuals to maintain a level of independence in a familiar environment. This can lead to a greater sense of comfort, emotional well-being, and overall satisfaction.
  • Personalised care: Home care services can be tailored to specific needs and preferences. Care plans are often designed to accommodate the individual’s daily routines, personal preferences, and medical requirements.
  • One-on-one attention: Home care provides one-to-one, undivided attention from caregivers to meet an individual’s care needs and to support their physical and emotional well-being.
  • Familiarity and routine: Being at home with support can enable individuals to follow their established routines, which can be important for those with cognitive impairments, such as dementia. Familiar surroundings can also help to reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Family involvement: Home care encourages family involvement, enabling family members to actively participate in the care process. There are also no visitor restrictions, and the chance to keep beloved pets close by—a comfort for many.

These benefits can collectively contribute to a higher quality of life for individuals who receive care at home, promoting their well-being, and maintaining a strong sense of dignity and autonomy.

What are the considerations when choosing at-home care?

While receiving care at home offers numerous benefits, there are also some disadvantages that individuals and their families should consider.

  • Limited medical support and resources: Depending on the level of medical needs, it might not be possible to provide the medical support required due to a lack of space.
  • Care when it is needed: unless a live-in or 24/7 care option is chosenthere may be a delay in getting the care required when needed, especially in the case of a fall or other injury or an urgent need for medication.
  • Safety concerns: Homes might have physical hazards, such as stairs or slippery floors, that increase the risk of falls and accidents.
  • Family caregiver strain: If family members are heavily involved in caregiving, it can lead to burnout and strain on relationships. Balancing work, personal life, and caregiving responsibilities can be challenging and overwhelming.
  • Isolation and loneliness: Despite efforts to provide companionship and social interaction, individuals receiving care at home might still experience feelings of isolation due to the potential lack of social engagement and structured activities.
  • Cost considerations: Depending on the level of care required and the availability of insurance coverage, the cost of home care can be substantial. It’s important to budget for these expenses.

It’s important to carefully weigh these disadvantages against the benefits when considering home care. Each individual’s situation is unique, so it’s advisable to have open discussions with the individual receiving care, family members, and healthcare professionals to make the best-informed decision.

What are the benefits of moving into a care home?

Moving into a care home can offer a wide range of benefits for individuals who require a higher level of care and support.

  • Comprehensive care and support: Care homes are staffed by trained professionals who can provide round-the-clock care and support. This is particularly beneficial for individuals with complex medical needs or cognitive impairments that require constant monitoring and assistance.
  • Safety and accessibility: Care homes are designed with safety in mind. Often featuring modifications to reduce fall risks and provide easy accessibility for those with mobility challenges. This can help prevent accidents, and provide a secure environment.
  • Social engagement: Care homes often offer a range of organised activities, outings, and social events. This encourages residents to interact with their peers, engage in hobbies, and participate in group activities.
  • Relief for family caregivers: Moving into a care home can alleviate the caregiving burden on family members. This can lead to reduced stress and improved family relationships, allowing loved ones to focus on spending quality time with the individual rather than managing day-to-day care tasks.
  • Peace of mind: the worry of a loved one alone at home is replaced by the surety that they are safe and secure and well looked after at all times.
  • Access to medical services: Care homes typically have access to medical professionals, including nurses and doctors. This ensures that residents have prompt medical attention and assistance when needed with managing their health conditions.

It’s important to visit potential care homes, talk to staff and residents, and carefully consider the individual’s needs and preferences before making a decision to ensure you are finding a positive and fulfilling living experience for your loved one.

What are the considerations when moving into a care home?

Living in a care home, while offering many benefits, also comes with certain aspects that individuals and their families should consider before making a decision.

  • A change in surroundings: Moving into a care home often means leaving behind one’s own home and familiar environment. This change and reduction of personal space to just a private room can be challenging for some.
  • Reduced privacy: Living in a care home usually involves sharing living spaces with other residents. This can lead to a reduction in personal privacy and may require an adjustment in daily routines.
  • Structured environment: The structured environment might not align with an individual’s preferred daily routines and activities, particularly those who are used to more flexible schedules.
  • Adjustment period: Transitioning to a care home environment can be a big step for some. The adjustment period can be accompanied by feelings of loss of a former family home, anxiety, and even resentment due to the significant change in living situation.
  • Strict visitation policies: At times, for the health protection of the residents and staff, some care homes may have reduced visitation policies which may mean you cannot see your loved at your preferred time or as often as you would wish. If you have a close relationship and see each other frequently, this may need to be taken into consideration.

It’s important to conduct thorough research, visit potential care homes, and have open discussions with the individual and their family before making a decision. Balancing the potential disadvantages with the individual’s care needs and personal preferences is crucial to finding the most suitable living arrangement.

Care home vs home care: Which should I choose?

The decision between a care home and home care depends on factors such as medical needs, independence, and support. Care homes offer 24/7 comprehensive care, social interaction, and structured routines but might lead to a loss of some independence and privacy, and require adjustment. Independence is promoted though in most care homes, in enablement for greater mobility, activities in the gardens and even trips out where transport is available. Many homes also encourage family visitation and involvement.

Home care maintains a level of independence at home, offers one-to-one support during the visit, and can involve family, but might have limited medical care and isolation concerns. The choice hinges on individual preferences, needs, and available resources, requiring thoughtful consideration and involvement of the individual, family, and healthcare professionals.

Looking for a particular kind of care?

If you are looking for specialist care, discover what Porthaven can offer your loved ones. We understand that each individual’s needs are unique, so we work with you and your loved one to build a comprehensive individualised care plan to ensure they feel right at home and receive the appropriate care they need.