The Pros and Cons of Residential Board and Care Homes

Does your aging parent or loved one need more help than you can give? When that time comes, you have many options to choose from. Bringing in a caregiver to care for them in their home or moving them into an assisted living facility are probably the two most common choices. But another route you could go is a residential board and care home. 

Board and care homes are houses in residential neighborhoods that are outfitted and staffed to care for a small number of residents – usually under 10 people. These homes provide comparable care to what’s offered at assisted living communities, but still less than what a nursing home provides. This means board and care homes can help with ADLs (the activities of daily life), but typically don’t provide 24-hour skilled nursing assistance. They might also be called:

  • Residential care home
  • Adult family care home
  • Group home
  • Senior group home
  • Adult foster care home
  • Personal care home

In this article, we’ll dive into the pros and cons of board and care homes as compared to other types of senior care to help you make the right choice for your parent or loved one. 


  • Affordability

Budget can be a huge factor in choosing a senior care option. Board and care homes are usually less expensive than assisted living facilities because they offer fewer amenities and smaller spaces.  And because care takes place in a residential setting, there are typically fewer frills when it comes to the surroundings.

Depending on the amount of care your loved one needs a board and care home might also be less expensive than an in-home caregiver. However, if your loved one only needs a caregiver on a part-time basis, in-home care can be the more affordable choice. It’s important to determine exactly how much help your loved needs before comparing costs.

  • More socialization opportunities 

Many people underestimate how important socialization and companionship are for seniors. Whether you go with an assisted living facility, an in-home caregiver, or a board and care home, your loved one will have plenty of opportunities to socialize and develop friendships. This may come a bit easier in an assisted living facility or board and care home, simply because of access. Your parent will be surrounded by peers and won’t have to travel for group activities. 

That said, an in-home caregiver can provide transportation to any activity your parent or loved one wants to attend. And because of the personalized nature of in-home care, a caregiver can tailor the daily schedule to include activities that your parent enjoys, which can widen the choices for social opportunities considerably. 

  • More personal attention 

Another pro of the small group setting of a board and care home is that your loved one will likely get more personal attention than they would in an assisted living facility. Staff members at assisted living facilities are helping many residents at once – up to 7 on average. And at these facilities, staff workload and turnover can make it more challenging to create close bonds and relationships.

Of course, having a caregiver in your parent’s home provides the highest level of one-on-one attention. Because one-on-one in-home caregiving is so personal, our caregivers and clients often develop deep bonds and friendships. Many family caregivers consider their parent’s caregiver an extended member of the family. 


  • Having to move into a much smaller space

Using a board and care home for senior care obviously means you’ll have to move your parent or loved one out of their current home. This can be a much bigger adjustment to completely move from one place to another, especially if it’s from a home your parent has lived in a long time. Because space is limited in board and care facilities, this process will involve downsizing considerably, which can add to the stress and anxiety your parent feels. You as the family caregiver will likely have to lead the charge, which means added stresses for you as well.

The same would be true of choosing an assisted living facility. But depending on the facility your parent or loved one would likely have more space there versus a board and care home. Some assisted living facilities offer apartment-like settings with kitchens and bathrooms, which can be an easier transition for your loved one. With board and care homes, they’d likely be sharing those spaces and would have only their bedroom as personal space. 

  • Fewer amenities 

Since board and care homes are essentially large residential homes, there are going to be fewer on-site amenities than you’d get an assisted living facility. Many assisted living facilities offer different types of classes and activities and have dedicated spaces to do so. Depending on the facility, there may be scheduled events or group outings as well. These types of services aren’t typically offered and board and care homes. For this reason, board and care homes work well for seniors who aren’t as interested in group activities.

  • Lack of privacy 

Board and care homes offer the least amount of privacy of the senior care options. Almost all the spaces in their homes are shared by the other residents, and sometimes even the bedrooms are shared. Assisted living facilities may offer more private spaces for your loved one, but if privacy is a top concern, then getting an in-home caregiver may be the way to go. 


In-home care, assisted living, and board and care homes are similar in the types of care offered, so ultimately it comes down to whether your parent is willing to move and budget. But even if they are willing to move, consider starting out with in-home care first and seeing how it goes. You can read more about how to determine if it’s right for your family in this post

Since most in-home care agencies don’t require long-term commitments, there isn’t much risk to trying it out. Plus, it will be less stressful for everyone and less of a transition for your parent or loved one. If it turns out that a board and care home is a better fit, working with a caregiver in the home will have provided time to prepare for that bigger life change. 

Questions? We’d love to learn more about your situation and answer any questions you may have. We offer a no-obligation discovery call to help determine if we’d be a fit. Our knowledgeable client service specialists can give you a ring at a time that’s convenient for you. Simply fill out this form to get started today!


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