The question of home care or community care is confronting more and more Australians. The inexorable march of demographics in tandem with improved health care services is increasing our life expectancy. 

In turn, our ageing population is posing challenges around the optimal type of care Australians need. With most seniors preferring to stay in their own homes, many seniors and their children are questioning the care solutions available to them.

Points Of Difference

The two most common options available to the aged are care at home or residential care delivered in a nursing home. The two have very clear differences.

With home care services, care and support services are provided to an individual in their own home. This enables them to continue living safely in their own home. The residential care model sees the senior move into a care facility, modelled on a nursing home system, where residents enjoy 24-hour clinical care. 

The four criteria that differentiate home care from residential care are:

  • Service Experience
  • Social Connections 
  • Happiness 
  • Cost

Home Care Service Experience

Home care provides different degrees of care, tailored to individual needs. Help may be needed in the form of cleaning, regular rehab in the home, meal preparation or assistance with a shower or a bath.

Seniors living at home retain a greater degree of independence while giving them the dignity to live their life according to their own preferences.

Residential Care Service Experience

The residential care model delivers on-call, around the clock care for residents who do not need help with acute conditions. This form of care including respite care suites high-dependency seniors who are unable to care effectively for themselves at home.

Home Care Social Connections

One reason home care services are popular is they allow seniors to enjoy the sense of security provided by their familiar environment while retaining their links to their local community, friends, family and neighbours.

A regular carer also offers friendship and company nurtured by spending time together. Many home care programs actively nurture a senior’s social engagement either through shopping outings a visit to the movies or organizing a day out.

Residential Care Social Connections

Most nursing homes offer a host of social programs, ranging from on-site activities to keep residents stimulated and socially engaged to social excursions.

For a senior, losing long-term connections with their network is often highly disruptive and can stress a senior’s emotional well being. However, the nursing home environment can also be a source of new connections and new friends.

Watch this video on the benefits of in home care (A USA experience from Seniors.com) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6wb-CGF_fc

Happiness At Home

Perhaps the key advantage of a home care package is it avoids the disruption of major life change. While inevitably, there is a period of adjustment in having a carer visit regularly, it usually involves minimal stress.

In-home care can contribute strongly to a senior’s happiness and sense of emotional wellbeing, particularly if the senior is keen to stay in their home. Home care also provides continuity of family and social interactions while the carer’s support allows the senior to do expand their activities beyond what they can accomplish on their own.

Happiness In Residential Care

Many seniors find moving from their home into residential care stressful and upsetting. Their loss of independence can be confusing, confronting and frightening.

The disruption to a senior’s familiar rhythms of life and the absence of familiar possessions can pose a significant health risk, which is not mitigated merely by being surrounded by other residents in their residential care facility.

Final Observation

Most seniors prefer the independence of living at home. Whatever someones age maintaining dignity and respect is important. In some cases where deteriorating health is an issue, community care may be your only viable option. However, increasingly home care is enabling seniors to live at home to enjoy their independence.

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