Homecare or residential care?

First published on 22 of March 2018 • Updated 11 of April 2018

If you are considering care, the biggest question on your mind may be: what kind? Should you move into residential care (i.e. a ‘care home’) or aim to receive care in your own home so you can live in familiar surroundings for as long as possible?

It’s often a tricky choice, and the best option for you will depend on your own personal circumstances, preferences and needs. There are also many factors to take into account, such as costs, lifestyle, freedom, privacy and your physical and medical needs. Here you can weigh up the pros and cons of each option, to help you make the best choice for yourself.

Homecare vs residential care – which is best for you?

When you have homecare, a care worker will visit you at home and help you with tasks you find difficult. If you need a lot of care, or need care during the night as well, you can have a live-in care worker.

Residential care is when you move into a care home. Trained staff will be on hand to care for you all the time, along with the care home’s other residents.

Here’s an at-a-glance comparison of homecare versus residential care:  



Residential care

You can live in the comfort of your own home.

You will live in a care home specially designed for residents’ needs.

You can keep your independence and continue enjoying the lifestyle you are used to.

Professional staff can help you throughout the day and night.

You can keep all of your belongings.

You will be surrounded by other people and there will be activities, which can help to stop you feeling lonely.

You can continue to keep pets.

Some care homes are pet-friendly.

Flexibility - you will have more choice over how you are cared for and when.

You’ll no longer have the responsibility of having to run your own home.

It’s easier for family and friends to visit.





Residential care

You might be at more risk of hurting yourself.

You have to move out of your own home and live with people you don’t know.

If you need help, you might have to wait a short while for a care worker to get to you.

You may feel that your independence has gone because you can’t go out when you want to.

Your home may need modifications.

You can only take belongings that fit into your room.

Depending on where you live, the homecare options may differ.

Lots of residential care homes won’t allow you to keep your pets.

Homecare vs residential care – which is most cost-effective?

Broadly speaking, residential care usually costs more than homecare, as it includes your food and accommodation. However, if you need a lot of homecare (or 24/7 live-in care) then the cost may approach or even exceed that of a care home. Nevertheless, bear in mind that you are more likely to receive financial help with paying for homecare, because of the way the means test works (see below).

Here are the average costs you can expect to pay for homecare and residential care.

Residential care

Residential care can cost anywhere between £25,000 and £50,000 a year, depending on where in the country you live and the services you receive. The reason it is so expensive is that it includes 24/7 professional support, bills, food and accommodation. Many people who go into residential care need to use the bulk of their assets to pay for it, often including the value of their home.


Since homecare is more flexible – you pay only for as much as you need – you can usually keep the costs much lower. You are also not paying for accommodation.

Homecare costs around £15 per hour on average, so three hours of care every day might cost around £16,000 per year. A live-in careworker may cost around £30,000+ per year – similar to the cost of residential care, but considerably better value for a couple if you both need care.

Find out more about the cost of care.

Ways to pay for your care

If your care assessment finds that you need care, your local authority will carry out a means test to work out how much you can afford to pay towards it.

It is worth bearing in mind that if you choose homecare, the value of the property you live in won’t be taken into account in your means test. As a result, you may be more likely to get financial support from your local authority. If you choose residential care, the value of your home may be included.

How do you find a good care provider?

Whether you choose homecare or residential care, it’s important that the support you receive is of a high standard. Look for a care provider with a strong rating and report from the CQC, the care regulator.

Unbiased will only connect you with care providers with a good or outstanding rating from the CQC.

Let us match you to your perfect care provider