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What is the best alternative to a care home.

Its been an extremely worrying time for anyone who has a loved one in a care home, or was considering a care home for themselves or their family in the future. Its care at home really an alternative to a care home setting?

What’s best for your elderly relative - care at home, or a care home? While we can’t tell you what’s the right fit for you, we hope to provide enough information for you to make an informed choice.

Home care and care homes - what’s the difference?

While the two sound similar, they are completely different.

When I refer to ‘home care’ or ‘care at home’, we mean receiving support from professional carers in your existing home. In many situations, this support is provided by other family members or volunteers in support of preofessional carers.

Meanwhile, ‘care home’ is a broad term, encompassing residential homes and nursing homes that a person typically moves into when their needs demand it. This may or may not be permanent choice.

Benefits of care at home

Most people want to be cared for at home

Home care is the most popular option amongst older people who need help at home or care.

97% of people surveyed said they don’t want to go into a care home when they’re older (OnePoll, 2014), and 70% would prefer to reach the end of their life in their own home.

Home care is proven to be better for health and wellbeing

A number of studies have shown that person-centred care at home has a greater positive impact on wellbeing, happiness and reduced hospital admissions than admission to a care home.

Perhaps for this reason, it is the aim of the NHS to keep people out of residential care and in their own homes for as long as possible. Home care also forms an important part of the World Health Organisation’s 2020 strategy.

Home care is more cost-effective

Contrary to popular belief, home care is typically cheaper than going into a residential care home or nursing home.

In addition, if you are living in your own home, its value will not be included in means-test asset calculations which decide if you qualify for public funding.

Home care is better for those living with dementia

Those with dementia in particular benefit from private care at home. This is partly from being around their own belongings in a place full of memories and stimuli (such as photographs and books). PramaLife offer many community based clubs and groups for people with memory loss and dementia.

Support at home is tailored to your needs

Support can be tailored to yours or your loved ones needs and adjusted over time to fit a changing situation. For example, you might start with a few hours twice a week to help with tasks like shopping and cleaning - then move up over time to daily care, or a solution that is more comprehensive.

Drawbacks of care home

Care homes have a bad rep

Care homes often have poor images, resulting in many people fearing the day they might go into one. This fear will be compounded by the number of deaths that have occoured from Covid-19 in the current coronavirus pandemic.

Care homes are expensive

Care homes can be very expensive as a long-term care option. The yearly cost of a residential care home is minimum £65,312 a year in London and minimum £35,204 a year in the rest of the UK, based on this cost of care calculator. It is higher for nursing homes, which offer support from professional nurses: minimum £78,936 a year in London and minimum £43,316 a year in the rest of the country.

Care home options are limited

When choosing a care home, unless you are prepared to travel to visit your relative you are typically limited by availability in your area. Quality varies hugely between care homes, and waiting lists for the best homes can be very long.

Care homes can have strict rules

As you might expect, care homes need to have a set of rules to ensure the safety of all their residents. Unfortunately, rules put in place to protect the most vulnerable can have a negative impact on those who are able to enjoy more freedom. For example, many homes do not allow couples to remain living in the same room.

Most homes also won’t take on pets, leading to a separation which can be damaging to wellbeing.

The cost of care

The cost of care homes varies by location, but the average is £42,536 per year for a residential home, and £51,376 per year for a nursing home. These numbers are based on this useful calculator. Cheaper care homes subsidised by the state often have much longer waiting times (years versus months), while the more expensive care homes may be out of reach for many people.

There is also a huge range when it comes to the cost of care at home in Dorset

The CQC reports are available online for all care providers, google ratings, and ratings from can be useful information.

In conclusion

Care homes have been considered by many to be the only safe and practical option for those with advanced care needs. This is no longer the case, thanks to a combination of more home care organisations, more flexibility on spending care budgets from Local Authorities, and a variety of technologies and other adaptations available to make homes safer and easier to navigate. As a result, both care homes and care at home are viable options for most people requiring care.

Ultimately, whether you choose a care home or home care should be based on personal preferences and that person’s individual care needs.

If you have more questions about how home care works, or about what option might be best for you and your family, you can book in a free care consultation with one of our PramaCare team call us on 01202 207300 or contact us online.


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