Cost Comparison: Home Care vs. Care Facilities

A closer look at costs and other aspects to consider when choosing elderly care.

As you’re comparing elderly care options, one consideration you’ll face is cost. The financial aspect is a big part of the conversation and can impact on the level of care you receive. It’s important to not only look at the top line expense but also the service that comes with it. You can use our free cost calculator to see how much high quality in-home care would cost for your loved one. 

Here’s a breakdown of  costs and other considerations for home care versus care facilities:

How Much Does Home Care Cost?

In-home health care consists of a variety of services and needs, and their costs can vary, too. Some patients may only need companion care, while others will need help with housework, running errands, or daily personal care (i.e. bathing, transferring, medication reminders). 

Let’s look at the average cost of in-home care for seniors in NC from a licensed, insured, high-quality home care agency:

  • Transportation: $20/hour (includes transportation to and from appointments, errands, etc.)
  • Companion care: $18.50-22/hour (includes light housekeeping, meal preparation, medication reminders, passive exercises, errands, safety supervision)
  • Personal care: $23-25/hour (includes assistance with bathing, transferring, bed-bound patients, CNA tasks, and all companion care services)
  • Couples care: $25-27/hour (full-service care for two clients)

With in-home care, the service is more personalized and occurs within the home rather than an outside facility. Patients aren’t locked into a monthly or annual program and can start or end care as needed. And even though Medicare doesn’t usually cover the cost of in-home care, most agencies will accept long-term care insurance.

What’s the Cost of Other Senior Care Options?

The cost of assisted living and nursing home care can vary depending on your area and the level of service you receive. Here’s a quick breakdown of average costs in NC:

  • Assisted Living: $3873/month (the lowest level of assistance)
  • Nursing Home-Shared Room: $5043/month (full care)
  • Nursing Home-Private Room: $7711/month (full care)
  • Memory Care High Acuity Unit Shared Room: $9,290.00/month (full care, locked unit)

Some facilities offer an all-inclusive price, but others will charge additional fees on top of their base fee. For example, some assisted living communities may have a monthly “community fee” on top of care costs. Others may add on costs for incontinence management, medication and laundry.

In some cases, you may not be able to uncover the full cost list until the patient has been examined by the facility.

Other Factors to Consider

One thing many families don’t always think about is the caregiver-to-patient ratio. In a nursing home, an RN is on duty at least eight hours per day, seven days a week. However, there are no minimum staffing requirements for CNAs, who provide most of the day-to-day care. For seniors in NC, the average is roughly 15-20 patients per CNA, though this can vary by facility.

For a home health care provider, the caregiver-to-patient is 1:1, or 1:2 for couples care. Studies have shown a strong correlation between staffing and quality of care, citing that experience, training, and attentiveness all play a vital role. 

In addition, the cost of in-home care and senior care facilities can vary by area. Basing your decision on national and state averages alone doesn’t give you the best picture of what to expect.

It’s important to be educated about the costs of senior care. Knowing the total value of senior care can help you make a safe decision based on the wishes of your loved ones.

Use our free tool to compare the cost of senior care options in your area!


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