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Home care vs care homes: Here’s what you need to know

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Mika, Staff Writer

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

When your elderly relative needs care, it can be hard to know what choice to make. You know that you can choose between a residential care home or at-home care, but what are the key differences between the options and which should you choose?

We’re going to explain the difference between residential care homes and home care so that you can support your loved one in making the right choice for their individual situation.

The effect on health and wellbeing

Many recent studies have shown that homecare has a positive impact on wellbeing, as well as reducing hospital admissions when compared to residential care homes. This is why the World Health Organization recommends that people are assisted to remain in their own homes for as long as possible.

The cost of care

The cost of care is an important factor for many people. Typically, it is cheaper to receive home care than to move into a residential care home. You’re also more likely to qualify for public funding for your care if you receive home care as the value of your home won’t be included in the calculations. This makes home care a more cost-effective option for many people.


Most people want to maintain as much independence as possible as they age. However, it can feel like you’re losing some of your independence when you move into a care home. Home care can help elderly people to maintain their independence for as long as possible, allowing them to continue living their normal lives in their own homes.


Many elderly people begin to struggle with mobility as they get older. Care homes are designed to be accessible to all, with adaptations such as stairlifts and handrails wherever needed. If mobility is an issue, extensive adjustments may need to be done to a home to make it safe and practical for home care. It is often possible to get funding for these adjustments but it can be stressful to coordinate the work and will take time to complete.

Social contact

Social contact is important throughout life, including in the later years. Care homes provide valuable social contact with other residents, providing a feeling of community. Activities and outings are provided with specialist support available. Home care can sometimes leave elderly people feeling isolated, especially if they live alone.

Personal preferences

The most important factor to take into consideration when deciding between a residential care home and home care is a personal preference. Many people feel strongly about one option over the other and this is important to remember. A 2014 survey by OnePoll found that 97% of people don’t want to go into a care home when they reach old age, indicating that most would prefer home care.

Whichever option you choose, it has to be the right decision for the person needing the care. There are many factors to weigh up and there is no right or wrong choice. 

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