What is a care home?

Care homes provide residential care for people who need substantial help and support with their personal care. Trained staff care for residents 24 hours a day.

Care homes fall into various types, depending on the type of care you need:

  • Residential care homes (personal care)
  • Care homes with nursing care (personal care with nursing care)
  • Dual-care homes (personal care, or personal care and nursing care)

See Choosing the right care home for more information on these different types of homes.

In addition to 24-hour care, accommodation and meals, care homes should offer suitable outings or social activities.

When to consider a move to a care home

  • If you need a lot of care, particularly if you need it during the night as well as the day.
  • If your care and supervision needs can’t be met in your own home.
  • If you’ve considered the other options – home adaptations, home care, downsizing, moving in with family, sheltered housing, extra care housing – and none of them are right for you.
  • If you’ve had a care needs assessment and your care plan recommends it – see Getting a care needs assessment.

You’ll need to consider your wants and needs, and the cost of care homes too.

Benefits of residential care

  • If you’re becoming forgetful, the structured routine of a care home can be a useful anchor.
  • Trained staff are always on hand to help you. They’re experts in looking after older people and are experienced in looking after people’s individual needs and requirements.
  • Practicalities of living such as meals, bills, and housework, will all be taken care of for you.
  • If you need specific equipment, such as stairlifts or grab rails, the home will have these; they’re designed to be fully accessible throughout.
  • It can be very demanding for friends and family to care for you full-time and they might not have the skills to do it – a care home would take the pressure off them.
  • You’d be safe and secure, which could give you and your family peace of mind.
  • You’d have companionship and opportunities for social activities.

Drawbacks of residential care

  • You might be downsizing substantially – your belongings will need to fit in one room.
  • You might feel you’ve lost your independence and your privacy.
  • There may not be much choice in your area, so you could end up having to compromise. For example, you might want a home which accepts pets and be unable to find one.
  • The ongoing cost of staying in a care home can be very high, although you may be eligible for funding from your local council. See Paying for care in a care home for more information.

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