Would you benefit from live-in care?
Live-in care is now a popular alternative to moving into a care home. It enables you to stay in your own home and offers a way of continuing to live as independently as possible at home in your local community. But it doesn’t suit everyone, and factors such as space and finances, could impact on your decision.
Advantages of having a live-in carer
- Dedicated care: the main advantage of engaging a live-in carer is the dedicated one-to-one care by a team of typically two carers.
You stay in your own home: surrounded by your possessions, in a completely familiar setting. While residential care can offer a valuable service, most people prefer to stay in their own home if they can.
Peace of mind: you have the reassurance that someone is available to help you if there is a problem. Live-in care also offers companionship, reducing the risk of you feeling isolated and lonely. A professional carer will also support you in your interests and hobbies, encouraging you to continue with them wherever possible. This can have positive effects on confidence, happiness and wellbeing. If the carer is happy to drive you or accompany you on journeys, it even makes keeping in contact with friends and the local community much easier.
Keeping pets: the carer can (provided they agree) help to look after a pet that might otherwise be put up for adoption or sent to a new home if you were to move into residential care. Many care homes and sheltered housing do not allow pets.
Less pressure on relationships: if a relative or friend spends time with you to help out, having a live-in carer can ease that relationship as they can then be with you in a more relaxed way rather than being drawn into being your full-time carer, which can be stressful and time-consuming. This practical and emotional benefit takes the pressure off your family feeling that they need to be available to you all the time.
Holidays and way of life: if you’re still able to travel for holidays, this may only be possible if you’re able to take a full-time carer with you. Having a live-in carer allows you to continue your way of life with as little restriction as possible.
Specialist training: many live-in carers are specially trained to deal with such conditions as dementia, Parkinson’s, stroke, MS or palliative care. Some providers also offer live-in nursing staff.
Staying together: for couples, the cost of live-in care can be significantly less than a residential setting and loving partners are able to stay together. In some cases in residential setting, where one has dementia, they are separated.
We checked out care companies to get a sense of how they balanced caring and making money. In the end we found a good firm, with national reach. They were able to afford to employ trainers and people dedicated to sourcing and vetting carers - the last being especially important.
Disadvantages of having a live-in carer
- Finding the right person: the key is to find the right carer/care team who is properly trained and sympathetic to your needs. This can be a challenge. If you have complex or demanding medical needs, it may be difficult to find suitable carers with the correct experience and training, although most live-in care companies provide very good training, including qualifications.
- Lack of residential home benefits: some people also enjoy the social benefits of being in a residential home where they are constantly in contact with others, and may welcome giving up some of their privacy, so they can be freed from the sense of responsibility for managing their own home, even when they have help.
- Cost: it isn’t cheap to have live-in carers on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, although with the introductions of personal budgets and direct payments it can be possible for live-in care to be state-funded, depending on eligibility. Also, live-in care fees can be lower than the price of a residential home. The arrangement can be particularly cost-effective for couples, because they only have to pay once for a live-in carer, but twice for a place in a care home.
- Living arrangements: live-in care workers will require a private room in the house for their own use. Not everyone is comfortable with having a stranger living in their home and there could be tensions about living arrangements, depending on how it works in practice.
- Available space: the live-in carer must have their own bedroom with a television and internet access. They will be required to have a space they can call their own and where they can escape the inevitable stresses of the role and have some time to themselves. This may not be possible if you live in a small home, or would like to keep free space for your family and friends to stay.
- Needs of the carer: carers will need breaks, including holidays, and to spend time with their own families. So the personnel will change occasionally, and some will be better than others. If you engage live-in carers via a managed service, this will be less of a problem as the provider can organise short-term cover when necessary.
Live-in care helps you to stay in your own home rather than move to a care home. Find out if it could be right for you.
Guidance on employing personal care assistants, with information about legal issues and financial matters.
Questions to ask when hiring a personal care assistant or home help to provide care in later life.