A care home is staffed 24 hours a day and will provide your relative with accommodation and meals as well as personal care.
There are two main types of care homes:
- A residential home – run by healthcare professionals, for people who require personal care including help with washing, dressing and meals if required. Ongoing nursing assistance is not typically offered.
- A nursing home – run by nursing staff, for people who require ongoing medical support.
The terms “nursing home” and “residential home” are often mistakenly interchanged, but nursing homes are more appropriate for people with complex medical needs. Many homes with nursing staff also admit residents who only require personal care, which is useful if you anticipate needs intensifying in the future – although they are often more expensive.
Who are care homes recommended for?
Individuals who require round the clock care, who either do not have a strong desire to stay in their own home or whose home cannot practically be made safe and suitable for home care.
How can I find a care home?
The Care Quality Commission regulates care homes in the UK. Their interactive map provides a good resource for finding residential homes or nursing homes near you. They also include their quality rating for each home, which can help you compare your options.
NHS choices is another useful resource that curates all the various residential homes and nursing homes available.
- Round-the-clock care from trained staff, which may include medical professionals
- Removes the stress of household bills and chores
- Opportunities for social engagement, plus condition-appropriate activities to keep minds and bodies active
- Loss of independence (or the perception of it) can be upsetting
- Can be very expensive
- A move from familiar surroundings can cause distress and confusion
- Limited by availability in area, with a wide range in quality
Care home costs
In 2016-17, a single room in a residential home in the UK cost an average of £600 per week, and a room in a nursing home £841 (Laing & Buisson). This varies significantly by area, though, with fees considerably higher in London and the South East.
Care home waiting times
Varies from a few months, to several years for a specific care home. Waiting times are longer for subsidised homes than for private homes.
Home care services provides help for the elderly in their own home, while still receiving a tailored level of support appropriate for their needs.
Carers can help with anything from personal care and household tasks, to companionship and transportation. They can provide part-time care by day or night, or live in care on a short term or long term basis.
Who is home care recommended for?
Home care assistance is a great option for those who would prefer to stay at home, but need help and support to live independently. As the level of care can be tailored, it is suitable for anyone – from those who require a few hours of help per week, right through to those who need around-the-clock care.
How can I find a carer?
You can find a carer through a managed care agency, or through an introductory service. Sometimes it is possible to find a private in home caregiver through personal networks, however as it can be difficult to run background checks yourself this is not recommended.
Managed home care service
Regulated care agencies provide managed care services, meaning that they will oversee the care on your behalf. This includes conducting risk assessments and designing an elderly care plan, as well as assigning senior caregivers to shifts and directing the work they will do. As you might expect, this additional layer of management results in higher prices than if you coordinate directly with your carers. However, you may consider this worthwhile if you are unable to play an active role in the care coordination.
Introductory elderly care service
Introductory care organisations help families find independent, qualified and experienced local carers. They will also run all the required background checks on your behalf, ranging from qualification checks to making sure they have the right to work in the UK. As you coordinate with the carers directly, you can select and approve every individual who provides care. As well as giving you this choice and control, the lighter-touch layer of ‘middle-management’ results in lower prices than most agencies (while still paying carers fair rates).
- Cheaper than a care home while still using vetted, qualified carers
- Those with dementia in particular benefit from being in familiar surroundings
- Considerably more independence than residential options
- Tailored levels of support which can easily be increased or decreased
- Ability to hand-pick carers, ensuring continuity (introductory care services only)
- Many care agencies who provide managed services cannot provide the same staff each visit, making it hard to build a stable routine
- Those with advanced medical needs may require support which can only be performed by qualified nurses, such as the administration of morphine – which may need to be coordinated separately
Home care costs
There is a huge range in the cost of elderly care at home, depending on the area, the care need and the provider. Working with a care agency is typically more expensive than finding a carer through an introductory agency.
The BBC has an excellent Care Calculator which will give you an indication of average care costs in your area.
Home care waiting times
Again, times vary a lot depending on area and requirements, although home care is usually much quicker to coordinate than a care home (and can be almost instant).
Sheltered housing and senior assisted living
Sheltered housing is the name given to self-contained flats or bungalows for seniors. They can be rented from local authorities or housing associations, or bought from private developers. While schemes differ, there are usually shared facilities (such as laundry) and communal areas residents to socialise. Residents are typically expected to look after themselves unsupervised.
Assisted living, also known as extra-care housing, is similar to sheltered housing but with an addition layer of care provision from elderly care professionals. It is in many ways a form of residential care, but with more space and independence.
Who is sheltered housing and assisted living recommended for?
Sheltered and assisted living represent a halfway point between your loved one staying in their own home and residential care. They are great for people who are mostly capable of living independently, but may benefit from being part of a community complex and having provision for emergencies.
How can you find a scheme?
HousingCare have a search facility on their website to help you exclusively search for sheltered housing options in your area. There are lots of filtering options to help you narrow your search.
Depending on where you live, some sheltered housing may be provided by your local authority. If this is an option, it will be recommended following your loved one’s care assessment (Section 2).
- More space (and independence) than a care home
- Safe and secure, with a 24-hour emergency alarms and wardens
- More sociable than living alone
- Couples are able to share the same room (not always possible in care homes)
- Typically unsuitable for those with complex or developed care needs
- There are usually community rules, which may not be appreciated
- You still have to pay all utility bills and council tax, and may have service charges in addition to rent
- Pets may not be allowed
Like any flats or houses, purchase prices vary hugely based on the property and the area. Rents for senior assisted living typically range from £500 to £1000 per week, based on the facilities and services available as well as the quality of the residences themselves.
Anywhere from a few months to a few years. Private sector units have shorter waiting times than public sector.
Adult day-care centres
As the name suggests, day-care centres provide day-time care for large numbers of senior visitors, helping the elderly stay connected with their local community. Services provided include meals and social activities, and in some cases personal care. These centres are part of the community, and can be run by charities or the local authority.
Who are adult day-care centres recommended for?
Adult day-care centres are great for those who want to live at home, but would also like to engage with others in a safe environment. They could also be a good occasional option for those who receive care at home, allowing professional or family caregivers to take well-deserved breaks.
How can you find an adult day-care centre?
Carehome.co.uk has a database of day-care centres for senior people in the UK, which also includes reviews from families. You can also look on your local council’s website or ask your GP for recommendations.
- Provides opportunities for social interaction with larger groups
- Can provide respite care for family carers
- Door-to-door transport sometimes available (at an extra cost)
- May not be appropriate for those with complex needs
- Not always available locally, especially in rural areas
Typically between £20 and £60 for a day’s care.
Weeks to months, depending on availability of places.