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Live-in Care vs Care Home: What’s Right for Me?

If you or a loved one are in a position where you may be considering live-in care or a care home, you will likely have many questions.

Deciding whether to choose live-in care or a care home can be a tricky and difficult decision. This guide offers an insight into both options to help you decide which would work best for your loved one and their unique situation.


How live-in care works?

What is a care home?

How does live-in care differ from a care home?

Advantages of live-in care

Disadvantages of live-in care

Advantages of a care home

Disadvantages of a care home

How much is a care home?

Live-in care vs care home: Deciding what’s right for you

How live-in care works

Live-in care is when a carer moves into the home of a client to provide personal care, domestic support, and companionship at potentially any time throughout the day. The carer can provide any care and support task, including:

  • Shopping
  • Cooking
  • Assistance with showering
  • Assistance with tooth brushing
  • Vacuuming
  • Washing up

What is a care home?

Live-in care has the benefit of allowing the person being cared for to remain in an environment they are familiar with. Clients can remain at home, with neighbours and friends nearby, surrounded by possessions they cherish, have grown to love, and feel comforted by. A care home is a facility where people live where they receive personal care and support whenever they need, around clock. When you are in a care home, you will tend to have your own bedroom and bathroom, however, will likely share communal living spaces, such as gardens, recreation rooms, dining rooms with other residents.

Personal care in care homes includes:

  • Catering
  • Cleaning services
  • Assistance with everyday needs
  • Dressing
  • Grooming
  • Toileting

Many care homes, or residential homes, as they are also called, offer social activities on site, such as bingo, crafts, group activities, singing or even outings.

How does live-in care differ from a care home?

The main difference between live-in care and a care home is that with live in care, the person receiving care remains at home receiving care on a one to one basis. The carer works according to their client’s schedule, type of care needed, and bespoke level of needs. In comparison, a care home will have a team of carers who provide care and support to numerous clients, according to the schedule set by the care home.

Advantages of live-in care

The key advantages to live-in care are as follows:

  • The client is able to stay in their own home;
  • The care is provided by a single carer on a one to one basis and tailored to the individual, which can be of benefit both practically and emotionally.

Below, we consider some of the other particular advantages to live-in care:

The key advantages to live-in care are as follows:

  • The client is able to stay in their own home;
  • The care is provided by a single carer on a one to one basis and tailored to the individual, which can be of benefit both practically and emotionally.

Below, we consider some of the other particular advantages to live-in care:

Better for couples

Live-in care enables couples to remain together in their own home, whether only one or both require care. The price of live-in care for couples can be as little as half the price of 2 people moving into a care home.

Avoids upheaval

It can be incredibly upsetting for those of us who have envisaged ending our days in the comfort of our own home to have to leave and move into an alien environment. This is especially the case in later years, where many of us have a strong emotional tie to the home we may have lived in for years, even decades. If we have made it our lasting wish to remain at home until the end, it can be incredibly upsetting to have to move into an unfamiliar place, making live-in care an ideal choice.


Live-in care tends to be the preferred option for those who have dementia, Parkinson’s or have suffered a stroke, for example. This is because you can find a carer who is particularly experienced or well trained in providing that type of specialised care. You can select a carer with the right skills, training, personality and qualities to match your needs, which may not be a possibility in care homes.

Live-in care offers one to one support and familiarity from your carer

You will get to know your live-in carer very well vice versa. They will quickly understand your needs and preferences, and be able to provide companionship and deliver your care accordingly. This can be especially important for elderly live-in care or when someone is suffering from short term memory problems.

Attending appointments is easier with live-in care

Your live-in carer will be able to accompany you to scheduled appointments at your local doctor’s surgery, hospital or even to your local place of worship.

You can build a good relationship between family and your carer

Live-in care has considerable advantages when it comes to speaking directly to the carer who is solely looking after your loved one, as they will know precisely how they are doing physically and emotionally. You can get updates at virtually any time.

This may be limited or restricted in a care home, due to the amount of people being cared for at the same time by the group of carers on shift.

In comparison, in a care home, care is always delivered by a team of carers which means it will be very challenging to find out quite simple things about your loved one such as how well they slept in the night and have they been able to eat all of their lunch.

You can visit and entertain them at home

When you stay in your own home you can choose when family and friends would like to come and visit and even if they would like to stay overnight.

Timing and flexibility

Live-in care means that personal care such as washing and toileting are delivered when you need it, with no delay, as there is a single person dedicated to your needs. This can sometimes become an issue for those in care homes who may need to wait for assistance at certain, busier periods.

Food and nutrition

When it comes to food choices and personal nutrition, it can be said that live-in care is the preferred choice. This is because there is far more flexibility when it comes to food choice, and breakfast, lunch and dinner times. You can choose when you would like your meals, what you would like your meals to be, and your carer will shop according to your tastes and dietary needs.

This can be limited in a care home, as the care home needs to facilitate for all the other residents, meaning choice regarding mealtimes and exact menu options will be more restricted, within reason.

No restrictions to pets with live-in care

Wherever feasible, clients can keep their beloved, cat or dog, which is not possible if you move into a care home.

A trial period can be arranged quickly

If you decide that you would like to try live-in care, then this can be arranged in a matter of days and you can actually test out how well it works. In contrast, many care homes have waiting periods of weeks or even months. Suitable for rural and remote locations

It can be very hard indeed for people who need care at home to have it delivered to them if they live remotely. This problem is solved if you decide to proceed with live-in elderly care, as the carer will be happy to travel for many hours to their placement.

Disadvantages of a live-in care

Some houses are simply not equipped to deal with the needs of their owners in later life, such as stairs that make mobility difficult, spaces becoming either too small or too large for those that need care to feel comfortable, and bathrooms that have become tricky to use.

Live-in care, provided by a single carer may not be suitable if someone’s needs become too high or challenging. For example, it could be that someone requires care and attention throughout the day and also throughout the night and this scenario it could be that a care home will be best suited.

Advantages of a care home

Safety and security

Care homes can be a place in which a person who has become unsafe at home, possibly due to lack of mobility, falling or erratic behaviour will be safe.



There can be good opportunities for companionship in care homes with many staff who can be excellent at engaging with their clients. In addition, there is also an opportunity for clients to socialise with one another or take part in activities such as sing-alongs or games.

Predictable and a set cost

The care home should be able to provide their accommodation and a care service for a set cost which is more predictable than the running of a home which may have a number of costs such as utility bills as well as maintenance and council tax.

Inspection by a regulatory body

All care homes in the UK are inspected by the Quality Care Commission (CQC) from time to time.   The CQC will prepare a CQC Inspection report which is published and available to all, which gives an overall score to each residential home and as well as a detailed report which lists all areas of care and also elements that need to be improved.


Specialised care

Many residential care homes provide specialised care for those with particular needs and specific nurse training. Homes may specialise in dementia, anxiety and depression, alcohol dependency, palliative care or physical disability, which means that expertise is likely to be increased and centralised.

Supervision of medication and care

All care homes are required to have medication management and care systems in place which means that medication and care should be accurately and methodically administered to all clients.


Peace of mind

It can be reassuring knowing that a loved one who has become vulnerable is in the hands of a reputable care home and that they should be safe and well cared for.

Disadvantages of a care home


The cost of a care home

Care homes can be expensive depending on the location within the UK, the quality of accommodation offered, and the level of care needed.


Lack of companionship

Many people who move into care homes feel extremely lonely and isolated. They may have been moved away from where they have lived for decades and away from family, friends, neighbours and other loved ones at a time of life and into a place where it can be challenging to form new friendships.

Lack of flexibility and control

A new resident of a care home may be surprised by the lack of choice in some areas. For example, you will no longer have the freedom to decide what you eat and when.  You may not be able to decide when you would like to go to bed, or if you would prefer to stay up and watch a late night film. This can feel detrimental for a person’s sense of independence, particularly if you are new to the arrangement and have been used to complete independence previously.


How much is a care home?

The cost of residential care homes is dependent on a number of different factors. Residential care homes cost between £700 and £1400 per week depending on:

  • Location
  • The needs of the client
  • The individual care home and quality of accommodation and other services.

In comparison, live-in care can cost between £875 and £1100 per week for individuals and £1100 to £1300 per week for couples.


Live-in care vs care home: Deciding what’s right for you

Ultimately, the decision over live-in care or a care home comes down to a balance of one’s own individual practical circumstances and feelings. As with any important decision, we believe that a helpful approach is to prepare a list of pros and cons listing the two choices in opposing columns on a piece of paper. Ideally, this exercise should capture both practical considerations such as location and budget and also emotional considerations such as individual desire to remain in control and having autonomy over one’s own life which of course will be different for each person.  You should discuss the pros and cons with family and friends and also care experts and give plenty of time to come to a decision you will be happy with.

How we can help

We will listen carefully and understand your situation and begin to build a picture of the type of care that you or a loved one needs. We pay careful attention to medical requirements, as well as your personal preferences.

A member of our dedicated and experienced team will select your perfect carer and organise the finer details making it a pleasurable and efficient process. We will then arrange for a telephone conference call between ourselves and the chosen carer so that you can ask any questions and begin to build a relationship.


To start a conversation about live-in care with one of our friendly care team contact us today to see how we can help.

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