Making the right care choices

Making the right care choices

As a self-funder, which later life care option should I choose?

Understand your care options before you start looking for a solution.

"Many older people only move into care when they hit a crisis point or have no choice. Before taking steps towards moving into a care home, people should think through all the options."

Gordon Kishman, Director General of Age Concern England

If you want to talk to somebody rather than read about your options you can talk to us on 01892 335 330.  Alternatively you can speak to your GP.

Care Homes

A Care Home is for people who may be struggling to look after themselves in their own home and whose requirements extend beyond regular visits from hourly care visits several times a day. They can also be very helpful to people who are lonely living by themselves, and who want to be among like-minded people.

Care Homes cater for all day-to-day living needs. They offer communal spaces; dining and social areas.  Bedroom options include – singles, doubles, small suites, typically with en-suite facilities.

Additional facilities could include; hair salon, beauty room, library, bar, gardens, café.

However, it is important to recognise that each care home is specific in what it offers in terms of care. This means you need a good idea of what you will need to meet your medical and care needs today, and moving forward.

Not all care homes offer every type of care and wherever possible 'future proof' your care needs.

  • Respite Care: Short-term care for someone who is normally looked after by a carer at home, or who needs support in a care home between leaving hospital and returning home. Minimum duration of stay usually: 2 weeks.
  • Residential Care: Day-to-day personal care and mobility support, without qualified nursing care 
  • Nursing Care: Residential care plus nursing support from professionally-qualified medical staff available at all times.
  • Dementia Care: Specialist support at differing stages on the dementia journey. Respite, residential and nursing care can provide dementia support.
  • Other specialisms: There are Care Homes tailored to people with specific backgrounds and/or interests, such as: Religion, Music and The Arts, Military. However, such specialist focus is not available everywhere, so determining your priorities will be important.

Care Homes have to be registered by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and inspected regularly, resulting in a rating. 

Live-in Care

Live in care means somebody lives with you all of the time.  They provide support during the day and night.   Live-in Care companies may be registered with the CQC.  This depends on whether they employ carers or whether they provide only an introduction service – in which case they introduce a prospective employee to you and you employ them.

Some companies operate nationally, some regionally and some locally. The type of care provided will need to be discussed with the individual company.

Live in care is typically charged on a weekly basis. Depending on needs and working hours, costs can be similar to living in a care home.

Home Care

Home Care is for a person – or couple – who want to live at home but who need help with daily tasks, on a regular basis.

The carer who visits will typically support with a range of tasks, for example; helping the person get up in the morning and go to bed at night, preparing meals, assisting with bathing, dressing and some Home Care agencies also provide nursing support.

The carer may well also get shopping for them, take them for regular appointments and provide a level of welcome companionship.

As with Live-in Care, there are numerous companies throughout the country providing Home Care Services, but, through the nature of the work and working hours, most operate on a local basis, drawing their carers from the community to ensure they can respond to needs quickly and provide carers who do not have far to travel.

Home Care companies have to be registered with the CQC and are inspected regularly.

A person requiring Home Care can expect several different carers supporting them on a regular basis.  Minimum care stays are typically 30 minutes.  

Assisted Living

The term ‘Assisted Living’ needs to be accompanied by a warning as it tends to be used as an umbrella description for, and interchangeable with, several other terms. Have a look at our list below which provides a brief description of each. However, do bear in mind that assisted living is not usually suitable for somebody with dementia.

Assisted Living 'Schemes'  are aimed at people over the age of 55 with low level care needs. An Assisted Living complex can offer different types of residential accommodation with a variety of social and care support facilities on some sites.

    Within an Assisted Living Scheme, a resident usually has their own front door. You can typically buy or rent your living accommodation, whether a bedsit, an apartment, bungalow or small house. Some properties have their own garden, whereas in other locations, there are  communal gardens.

    Within the complex you may also find a variety of social spaces and venues – such as lounge, cafe, restaurant.

    In addition to the purchase price or rental cost, you will pay fees for general maintenance and shared services and utilities, as well as any bespoke care package you may need.

    You can live as independently as you like or are able.

    Other terms for Assisted Living

    • Independent Living: A living arrangement that actively supports and encourages desired independence and self-determination for elderly/disabled people either living at home, or in a community where their specific needs can be met.

    • Sheltered/Enhanced Sheltered Housing/Retirement Housing: Typically a complex of individual housing units comprising flats and bungalows, to buy or rent. Within the complex/estate there are also likely to be some communal facilities, and an on-site manager or warden responsible for arranging any services residents may need. Enhanced Sheltered Housing provides more day-to-day support.

    • Close Care Housing - as stated by the EAC on their website: Close Care Schemes are a relatively new concept and consist of independent flats or bungalows on the same site as a care home. Close Care Schemes can either be rented or purchased. Purchasers may receive a guarantee that the Scheme will buy back the property if and when they need to move into the Care Home.
    • Retirement Living (and Retirement Living Plus); Senior Living: Churchill Retirement Living, a well-established British retirement housebuilder, describes retirement living as: ‘a collection of purpose-built flats in a secure or gated environment with a number of communal facilities.’ Retirement Living developments tend to be located near to the local shops, town centre and essential amenities. The Homewise website, says that Retirement Living Plus is for the over 70s and provides all the benefits of retirement living together with an on-site restaurant or bistro and care/support available for those that need extra help. ‘Senior Living’ is another term for Retirement Living.

    • Extra Care Housing: According to the Medical Dictionary, Extra Care Housing is ‘A style of housing and care for older people in the UK which falls between sheltered housing/ accommodation and the level of care provided in a traditional residential home’. 

    • Residential Assisted Living Schemes – General Summary: These schemes are aimed at people over the age of 55 with low level care needs. An Assisted Living complex can offer different types of residential accommodation with a variety of social and care support facilities on some sites.

    Retirement Villages

    Retirement villages are being developed across the country and they can offer an excellent place to live, catering for people of similar ages and with a variety of interests.

    Ranging from 100-acre sites with working farms, church, spa complex, library, restaurants and numerous sports and social activities, to smaller sites with landscaped grounds and some leisure facilities, a retirement village can support very well through later life.

    Often a retirement village will be able to provide home care services and many also have a care home and some medical provision on site too.

    Typically, retirement village apartments or houses are purchased leasehold with the resident paying a regular fee for maintenance and shared services. Some developments ask for a percentage of the sale price to reinvest in the development on sale of the property.

    Back to 'Helping you find the right care'

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    Speak to Autumna

    For free, confidential advice on how to find the right care - call the Autumna team on 01892 335 330.

    The UK's largest & most detailed directory of care services for the elderly


    Care Homes


    Home Care Services


    Live-in Care Services


    Retirement Living Developments