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Home care versus Care Home: the differences everyone should know

Home care versus care homes? It’s a choice many seniors face as they age, and without fully understanding the pros and cons of each you won’t be properly empowered to seek out the very best choices for care. Today PAI Homecare takes a look at the key differences between each style of eldercare.

What is a care home?
While popular media has a pretty grimy idea of the ‘Old Age Home’ as a dull and dingy place you shove granny or grandpa off to because you can’t be bothered, that’s hardly the case for most reputable modern care homes. A care home should rather be seen as a form of ‘group living’ for seniors, with an environment structured strictly around the needs of the elderly and possibly the infirm. We say possibly, as many care home facilities offer different ‘levels’ of care. You could be looking at something as simple as a ‘retirement village’ setting, which offers fairly independent living for seniors who have sold up the large family home and could do with a little help and monitoring, but don’t need a lot of day-to-day care oversight. Here you will likely find small homes, flats or apartments on offer, from which the senior or senior couple will maintain a fairly independent existence with very little oversight, but the benefits of being surrounded by a community the same age as them with similar experiences, and of a simplified process of home management, bill paying and other day-to-day infrastructure needs.
A step above this comes the care home we typically picture when we see the name. Here, the senior does not maintain their own home, but will instead have a room in the larger facility. It’s typically a step taken at the point where the senior needs more full-time care and oversight then is available through the retirement village setup. Depending on the facility and the patient’s needs, life here may still be fairly independent, or the senior may be very reliant on care and oversight from the staff. Should they become sick, infirm or need respite care, this may become a ‘frail care’ facility, with 24/7 medical supervision on site.

What, then, is home care?
Care at home encompasses offering quality-of-life enhancing services to seniors remaining in their own home. This can, again, cover a spectrum of potential needs. They may need a carer to swing by once a week to accompany you to the shops, help you stack and store your shopping, and handle any heavy laundry tasks you have. Or they may need a live-in carer to provide overnight care and help with all aspects of life. For most care at home seniors, the level of care needed lies somewhere in the middle, where they need a hand to ensure medication is correctly taken on schedule, food is safely prepared and eaten, and the home environment is kept safe and clean, while the senior still retains independence and (hopefully) an active social life.
What benefits does home care offer?
Home care offers a host of benefits to the senior it's hard to develop in a care home. Firstly, they will be establishing a one-on-one rapport with the carer, who is freer to focus their time and attention then staff in a care home possibly can. Secondly, they retain considerably more independence throughout the ageing process, and can remain in familiar surroundings in the house they helped shape into a home- without their loved ones worrying that food and medication aren’t being taken, or that an accident has happened. For many seniors, it’s this retention of their independence and ‘normal’ life, with all it’s established routines, that make at-home care a perfect choice. These are far from the only benefits of at-home care, of course- everything from the ability to shape the care profile to exactly what you needand beyond should be considered.

When a care home may be the right choice
That’s not remotely to suggest a care home can’t be the perfect alternative for your elder, however. Care homes do offer their own benefits, too. Many seniors find themselves isolated as they grow older. While the presence of their at-home carer is designed to encourage them to stay social and outgoing, it’s no guarantee, and they will only be socialising with one person unless they already have an active life. Depending on their own nature (and factors such as hearing disabilities, the passing of members of their old social circle, or the average age of the neighbourhood) you may find them withdrawing from both necessary and fun social interactions. While the Care Home environment is no guarantee against that, being surrounded by many of their peers and the offering of group activities can be a great way to avoid this.
Likewise, this idea of ‘group living’ provides a greater security net. Sadly, we live in times where an independent senior in the neighbourhood may be seen as a target for vandalism or burglary. The often on-premises medical facilities offered at a Care Home may also be a drawcard for your senior.
In short, there’s no cookie-cutter answer to what’s ‘best’ for your ageing loved one. That’s why having a care plan developed with knowledgeable professionals and the active participation of your senior (if possible) is key as you plan for their golden years. Many factors, from their own personality and current level of independence, to their health and other matters, must come into play in choosing the perfect environment to help them not just live, but thrive, through this unique phase of their life. That’s why PAI Homecare is proud to have the trained and knowledgeable professionals you need on hand, so please don’t hesitate to call us today.

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Phone: 01494 415746 / 07308 016149


Chiltern Business Centre, 63-65 Woodside Rd, Amersham HP6 6AA


Phone: 01494 415746                  
Mob: 07308 016149