Institutional care vs home care, how to choose?

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Institutional care and home care are two distinct approaches to providing care for individuals, especially older adults. In my previous blog, I shared about how to choose home care agency or services.


In this blog, let us explore the key differences between institutional care and home care from various aspects such as settings, independence and familiarity, assistance level, interaction with peers, cost, and customisation. Through these considerations, you can decide which one is suitable for the elderly at different health conditions and care requirements.



Institutional care

Institutional care involves receiving care in a dedicated care facility, such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities, or retirement communities. Individuals live in a communal setting where care is provided by a team of staff members.


Home care
Home care refers to receiving care and support services in the individual’s own home. Caregivers or home care professionals come to the person’s residence to provide assistance and support.


Independence and familiarity

Institutional care

Institutional care often requires individuals to relocate from their home to a facility. While some facilities offer personalisation options, the overall environment may feel less familiar, resulting in a potential adjustment period.

Home care
Home care emphasises maintaining independence and allowing individuals to remain in their familiar home environment. It provides a sense of comfort, familiarity, and autonomy.


home care, dementia-friendlt home, volunteerism

Level of assistance

Institutional care
Institutional care facilities provide a range of services, including assistance with daily activities (ADLs), medication management, and medical care. However, the level of assistance may be more standardised compared to home care, as it caters to a larger group of residents with varying needs.

Home care
Home care services can be tailored to meet specific needs, ranging from companionship and assistance with daily activities to skilled nursing care. Care plans are typically customised to accommodate individual needs and requirements.

hospice and nursing care at home or institutional care.

Social interaction

Institutional care
Institutional care facilities offer opportunities for social interaction among residents through communal activities, group dining, and shared spaces. This can foster a sense of community and provide individuals with more opportunities for social engagement.


A few retirees playing chess at institutional care facility

Home care
While home care primarily focuses on one-on-one care, social interaction may depend on the individual’s personal network and the availability of family and friends. Caregivers can provide companionship, but it may be more limited compared to institutional care.



Institutional care
Institutional care typically involves higher costs due to the facility’s overhead expenses, including staff salaries, maintenance, and amenities. The level of care and services provided in an institutional setting often comes with a higher price tag.

Home care
The cost of home care can vary depending on the level of care required, the number of hours of assistance, and the region. However, in general, home care can be more cost-effective than institutional care, especially if the individual requires minimal assistance or prefers to remain at home.


Do you have enough money for retirement?


Institutional care
While some level of personalisation is possible in institutional care, it may be more challenging to cater to each resident’s specific preferences due to the communal nature and the need to balance the needs of multiple individuals.


Home care
Home care can be highly personalised to fit the individual’s preferences and needs. The care plan can be adjusted as required, and the caregiver can focus solely on the individual’s well-being.



Knowing all the considerations, we should note that the choice between institutional care and home care depends on the individual’s health condition, level of independence, support network, and most importantly, the elderly’s personal preferences. Ultimately, what we want to acheive is to make sure we give the best attention to the elderly’s well-being and quality of life.


As what we strongly advocate in this platform, you should start taking good care of your health by watching your diet and lifestyle when you are still ‘young’. By the time you are ‘old’, you maintain the sufficient capability of self-care and reduce the needs to admit to instituitional care facilities.


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