What are the alternatives to a care home?

Findingthe right care

Getting the best support for a loved one who needs care can be a daunting task. There are a number of options, and it’s worth spending time properly weighing up the pros and cons of each, considering the person’s needs, budget and the level of care they require, as well as what’s available to them in their area.

When we think of care, we often think of residential homes and nursing homes, which provide accommodation, meals and 24-hour personal care. But care homes aren’t for everyone. Disrupting the individual’s routine and having to get used to living in a new environment with new people, is no small task, and can be very stressful for everyone involved.

Thankfully, there are a number of alternatives to suit different individuals and their needs. Here’s a run down of the other options available, and who they’re best suited to.

Home care

Who is it for? For those who would prefer to stay at home to receive care around their existing routine, there is the option of home care.

Home care offers personalised one-to-one support from the comfort of home. As well as providing personal care, Care Professionals can assist with transport, daily chores such as cooking, cleaning, and running errands to make sure the home is always stocked with essentials. And they provide regular companionship that can be hugely beneficial to a person’s wellbeing.

How to arrange home care

If you need some help to arrange care at home, managed care services can be the right choice. In this case, care agencies will oversee every aspect of the care on your family’s behalf. They take care of risk assessments, design care plans and arrange caregivers. This option is more costly, but it’s there for families who are unable to coordinate care themselves.

Pros of home care

You stay in your own home and keep your routine. The main benefit of home care is being able to stay in a familiar environment, close to friends and family, and maintaining independence. You can continue to do the activities you like to do, whether that’s gardening, cooking, or watching TV. Being able to stay in familiar surroundings can also be hugely beneficial for some, including those with dementia.

Home care is good for you. Research has shown that person-centred care at home has a greater positive impact on wellbeing and happiness, and results in fewer hospital admissions compared to care homes.

Home care is a hugely flexible option. Not only can the individual and their family pick a Care Professional who best suits them, but support can be part-time, live-in, and can be changed depending on need.

Home care is more affordable than a care home, and is quicker to coordinate.

Cons of home care

However, there are some drawbacks. Many managed care services cannot guarantee that the same staff will be sent out for every visit, which some may find challenging.

Also, for those who require medical support that can only be provided by qualified nurses, this would need to be coordinated separately.

In addition, if mobility is an issue for the individual, their home may need adjustments to make it safe and practical.

Sheltered housing and assisted living

Sheltered housing consists of self-contained flats or bungalows, usually with shared facilities, such as laundry, and communal areas for residents to socialise with each other. Residents are unsupervised, so are expected to be able to look after themselves and live independently.

Assisted living is similar to sheltered housing, but includes care provision. While it resembles residential care, individuals have more space and independence than they would in a residential home.

Who is it for? This option is well suited to those who are mostly capable of living independently, with a little extra support, including 24-hour emergency alarms and wardens, and who would benefit from having options to socialise and feel part of a community.

Pros of assisted living: Sheltered housing and assisted living offer individuals more space and independence than a care home, and are well suited to couples, who aren’t always able to share a room in care homes.

Cons of assisted living: However, they aren’t the best option for those with more complex needs, and individuals are usually required to adhere to some community rules, such as no pets.

Day centres

Run by charities and local authorities, adult day-care centres provide care and an opportunity to socialise for large groups of elderly visitors. They provide meals and social activities, and in some cases, personal care.

Who are they for? These centres are well suited to those who want to live at home, but who would also benefit from connecting with other people in a safe environment. They can also be a good supplement to home care, and can provide respite for family members helping out with care. And to make thing easier, some provide door-to-door transport for an additional cost.

Day-care centres may not, however, be suitable for those with complex needs, and may not be available in some parts of the country, particularly in rural areas.

Moving in with family

Merging an individual’s home with a family member’s is a popular option for some families.

Who is it for? This option is well suited to close families who are capable and happy to provide some care to the individual who requires it.

It’s often advised that families do a trial run before any longer-term commitments are made, and that boundaries and rules are clearly stated beforehand. It’s important to establish how bills are paid for, who will take on caring duties, and that everyone involved is happy with the new arrangement.

Pros of moving in with family

It’s affordable. While there are limitations as to how much care can be provided, it is the most affordable option for individuals who don’t require a lot of support.

Care seekers can stay in familiar surrounding with people they know well.

Cons of moving in with family

Caring responsibilities can be overwhelming. Caring is extremely rewarding, but it can also be physically and emotionally exhausting, especially if you don’t have steps in place to keep you energised and well supported. Family caregivers will have to give up many aspects of their daily routine to look after their loved ones.

Families can be unprepared to provide support for more complex care needs, in which case they may need to seek support from professional caregivers.

Further information

There are many options of care that don’t involve moving into a care home. The BBC has provided a Care Calculator to help you work out potential costs for local care options.

To make a well-informed decision, it’s important to discuss all of the options available with everyone involved. Check out our other article for advice on how to broach the subject of care with elderly relatives.

Also, if you’d like to find out more about how Home Instead can help you arrange home care, don’t hesitate to get in touch.