There are a number of different types of care home, this article explains what they are and provides guidance on how to work out which type is right for you. 

Residential care homes

Residential care homes vary from small family-style homes to large homes with five-star hotel standards. All are expected to provide accommodation, meals, help with personal care such as dressing, supervision of medication, someone on call at night and companionship.

Residential care homes provide care for their residents during their short illnesses, but do not provide constant nursing care. Some residential care homes specialise in providing services for people with specific needs such as dementia.

Nursing care homes

Nursing homes also vary in size and facilities but all provide nursing care 24 hours a day for people who are bedridden, frail or have a medical condition or an illness that needs a lot of attention from a doctor or nurse.

To help you with your decision, we have general information on residential and nursing home care and what to look for when choosing a home.

This brief summary provides initial information on residential care options. It includes material on how social services can help and on how they carry out assessments. It is always a good idea to go to them for advice and to check on what financial assistance may be available. But those who have sufficient means can make their own arrangements independently, if they wish.

Is a care home right for me?

At some point in our lives, one in six men and one in four women will require some form of long-term care, according to official figures. Many of us will stay in our own homes, but almost 500,000 will be cared for in a care home or nursing home. Moreover, these figures will grow as people live longer and also because residential care is increasingly becoming a lifestyle choice.

Consider whether residential care is for you or if you would prefer to stay in your own home. If you have gone to social services for help – and your needs assessed – they should advise on and provide services that enable you to stay in your own home if you prefer.  In some cases, including where you are suffering severely deteriorating health, residential care may be recommended. This guide is designed to help you find the best care or nursing home to suit your needs.

Counsel & Care has produced a detailed document Care Homes – what to look for (Guide 19)

A number of different types of care homes are available, each catering for different needs and demands. The most common are:

  • Retirement villages offering continuous care
  • Residential homes
  • Nursing homes
  • Dual registered homes

Retirement villages

Retirement villages (or care villages) are becoming increasingly popular, providing people with all the services they need for the short, medium and longer term in one place. Among their facilities, care villages will often include a care home – for when more assistance is needed for day-to-day tasks, or even a nursing home when 24-hour assisted living is required. The idea is that as your needs change you can customise the level of care available to you.

Residential homes

Residential homes are intended to be a home from home with the benefit of additional personal care where it is needed. This can range from help with bathing and dressing, to help with eating meals. Essentially, they are for people who struggle to cope at home, or need extra help to carry out everyday tasks.

Some people also opt for residential care as an answer to feelings of loneliness and isolation. Some people who pay for their own fees also opt for residential care (it’s increasingly becoming a lifestyle choice) with some homes offering services and entertainment which go way beyond those funded by social services e.g.

  • Health spas
  • Landscape gardens
  • Hairdressing, manicurists and chiropody
  • Excursions
  • Dedicated entertainment and activities coordinators
  • Bistros, bars or cafes

Of course, care in one’s own home can offer a great deal and many people prefer that, but for some it may be the only social contact they have, and only for as little as three or four hours a week. Residential care offers 24-hour care, frequent contact, the opportunity to forge friendships and reassurance for your family that you should be safe and appropriately supported.

Nursing Homes

Like residential care, nursing homes provide accommodation, meals and personal care. However, nursing homes also have qualified nurses in constant attendance. Due to the more specialised care in a nursing home, fees are generally higher than in a standard residential care home.

Dual registered homes

Dual registered care homes combine residential and nursing provisions, meaning they are an effective choice for someone whose needs could change over time. This prevents upheaval and the need to change homes, should deterioration in a medical condition occur.