paying for care at home

Choosing Care: The Differences Between Live-in Care And Care Homes


Find out the differences between the two most common forms of elderly care. Understanding the differences will enable you to make an informed decision about choosing care.


The two most common types of elderly care are live-in care and residential care homes. Understanding the difference between home care and care homes is really important so that you can make an informed decision about your future.

Find out more in our article “What Is Live-in Care?

Living Arrangements

Care Home

In a care home you live in a building that is often purpose built to house multiple occupants in their own rooms with private en-suite bathrooms. You will have some items of your own, but you only have a small space to keep them in, or at least a space much smaller than a full home. The care home may also be some distance away from where you used to live.

Live-in Care

With live-in care or home care you stay in your own home with all your furniture and possessions – everything you know and love. The only key difference is that you will have to create a living area for another person and get used to having that person living with you at home.

Day To Day Life

Care Home

In a care home there are likely to be group activities where everybody does something together like exercise or singing. You likely won’t get a choice about when you get up in the morning and go to bed; and the same is likely for mealtimes. You will be encouraged to sit with other people during the day and there will be other residents and staff to chat to, but there won’t be one sole carer dedicated to your needs. Leaving the care home may rely on family and friends taking you out which could be tricky if you have medical needs or no one living close by.

Live-in Care

Your live-in carer is dedicated to ensuring your quality of life is as great as possible. They will ensure things like cleaning the house and caring for pets is sorted out, as well as helping you with personal tasks like getting dressed and cooking for you. They will take you to appointments, social clubs, shopping – whatever you want and need. They are living with you to ensure your needs are met and that you have the kind of later life you want.

Key Differences

Live-in Care

  • You remain at home
  • You live in the environment you have made for yourself, the environment you are comfortable in
  • You eat when you want to, and you choose what you eat
  • You get control over music and television you enjoy
  • You get up and go to bed when you choose
  • Your pets stay with you
  • You stay living with your partner
  • You can have visits from friends and family when you like
  • You can go and visit friends and family when you like

Care Homes

  • You will live in an unfamiliar place
  • You may have to share certain facilities
  • You have to eat what is on offer, when it is offered
  • You will be encouraged to sit with other people in the day
  • You are unlikely to be able to have a pet
  • You won’t have personal 1 to 1 care, instead you will be cared for by a team

These are the key differences between care homes and live-in care. Which is right for you depends on what you want, what you need and what you can afford. Start your journey of research by reading the Live-in Care Hub No Place Like Home and Better At Home reports, along with the NHS funding care information page. The more informed you are, the more likely you are to make the best possible choice for your later life care.

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15 Comments. Leave new

  • care at home is far more personalised, isn’t task driven and isn’t rushed – beats a care home any day!

  • Very informative – thank you

  • This is really useful. It’s always good to look at the pros and cons of any difficult decision. My parents are adamant that they want to stay in their own home for as long as possible so live in care would be ideal. thank you.

  • My parents want to stay in their own home for as long as possible so a live in carer would be ideal to make sure that can happen. Thanks very interesting read!

  • Some interesting points! Live-in care helps to have more freedom and choice in what you do.

  • No one should have to leave there home and these points prove that live-in care is such a good option to keep your own personal lifestyle!

  • I hear so often from older people that they don’t want to go into a care home and yet that is so often what ends up happening. People either don’t realise that there is such a good alternative – i.e. live-in care – or they think it wouldn’t work for them because of medical conditions, lack of mobility etc.

    There is rarely a care situation that is not suited to having a live-in carer – a person may sometimes need additional nursing assistance but that can all be arranged. I would urge anyone thinking about care to look carefully at live-in care as an option before assuming there is no choice but to go into a home – you do have a choice…

  • very helpful.

  • Too true!

  • Some really clear points!

  • Great points which highlight the benefits of live-in care.

  • Live-in care obviously allows one to maintain their lifestyle choices

  • Clearly outlines the key differences between the two options of live-in care and care homes.

  • Live in care allows those to keep their family traditions and personal moments that are unique to them. The neighbours and friends remain in contact and part of their everyday life. Moving away from your home can stop this. These are the moments that make memories.

  • […] more information on alternatives to residential care please contact, for funding please visit our dedicated cost of elderly […]


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