Homecare, Care Homes and Assisted Living – What’s the Difference?

Our society offers numerous ways that people who are growing old can be looked after. Naturally, the idea behind it is to serve each individual’s personal needs and requirements and put the minds of families at ease.

However if you’re just starting to look at the options available to you, it can be easy to get lost in the jargon, caught up in confusing differences and steer through options to land on what suits you best.

The main areas are Homecare, Care Homes and Assisted Living and here we’re going to exlpore what they are and their differences so you can make more informed decisions.


To a great degree, the clue is in the name for this section of elderly care. A vast majority of people requiring care later in life will start off with homecare partly to ease the transition but also as in the early stages many people may not require full time help just yet.

Homecare then is exactly that; care you receive in your own home. Whether that’s delivered by a family member or professional, home provides the chance for people to remain in the comfort and familiarity of their own home while still receiving whatever help they require. In some cases that could be a carer coming in two or three times a week to assist with weekly chores. Perhaps it is a medical professional checking in on ongoing more minor medical issues or even social calls that add extra spice to later life.

If professional helpers are coming in then there is obviously a cost to it however these can start of fairly reasonably and, of course, it makes sense to only pay for the care you need, making homecare very flexible for people.

Further down the line, if a person begins to require full time care then care at home can start to rack up quite a cost, which is probably where the next of these three on our list steps in.

Care Homes

Seen as the most natural next step, care homes generally are for people who cannot fully or partially look after themselves anymore. Round the clock care and attention may be required or even just a 24/7 watchful eye by staff to ensure a good quality of life.

Varying hugely in price range, locations, facilities and all else in their setup, care homes boast a social element that homecare doesn’t. Being in amongst peers with activities and facilities at your disposal brings innumerable people a huge amount of joy and stimulation in later life in addition to the peace of mind of having help on hand. At Signature for example, our homes have dedicated teams creating a diverse and in depth activity schedule for our residents so that the care home living is about more than just care.  You can see an example of Signature’s activity programmes here.

Assisted Living

Assisted Living or Assisted Residence has become wide-spread in recent years. If home care is the first stage and care home the third, then this one is undoubtedly the second.

Aimed at people who still have great ability to look after themselves but need some sort of care, assisted living is a way for people to continue to manage their own life with a support system behind them just in case. In addition, it brings the social aspect of care homes to your front door.
Small apartment blocks or dedicated housing estates are the most common, with managers and staff on hand in the area to administer whatever care is required. Facilities and activities may also be available here as well as communal areas and quarters for friends and families to visit and stay in pre-booked.
For many aging people, isolation is a significant hurdle and assisted living combats that. An enclosed community with help on hand, this type of residential setup bridges the gap between home care and care homes and is growing in popularity as a transitional option. Residents own their own property, manage their own daily lives as they would outside of the community but still sit within a structure of care that is on hand to assist whenever necessary.

It can be quite easy to think that the failings of a care system are based on a one-size-fits-all approach but these options we’ve defined here abolish that. Each person requires care in their own way and for their own needs and within the options of home care, assisted living and care homes, that comfort level can undoubtedly be found.

Whatever your needs, Signature would love to help you make the best decision for you or a loved one.  Book a visit to our homes or an informal chat with one of our advisors here.