About care homes
Care homes, also called residential care homes, offer a safe environment for older people where they will receive support with personal care, like dressing and washing, as well as a busy programme of activities and opportunities for socialising.
Nursing homes provide registered nursing care for those residents who need higher levels of care, whether that is immediate care following being discharged from a hospital or a long-term care need. As well as providing care for those with higher needs, nursing homes also offer social activities and in-home entertainment like residential care homes.
The biggest difference between the two is that nursing homes have a qualified nurse on site round-the-clock, supported by care assistants, so they can provide a higher level of care.
Explore more of the differences between residential care and nursing care in our comparison below.
The difference between care homes and nursing homes
|Care homes||Nursing homes|
|Care needs||Individuals in a residential care home need support with their personal care, and they might want a break from day-to-day tasks like cleaning and cooking.||Residents in a nursing home will have a range of medical needs, and nurses provide medical care 24 hours a day.|
|Team training||Our experienced care assistants provide discreet support with everything from bathing and dressing to joining in with activities and outings. Our teams get to know your loved one so they can tailor their care to each resident’s needs.||Our dedicated nurses are highly skilled in a range of in-depth medical services. That means if your loved one’s needs change, they can stay in the same home. We’ll undertake a care assessment before a resident joins and create a bespoke care plan which we’ll review with you each month.|
|Cost||Costs for care homes vary depending on your loved one’s needs, but generally costs for residential care are lower than for nursing care.||The more care an individual needs, the higher the cost of care will be. Nursing home costs are generally higher because residents require more specialised nursing support and facilities. However, individuals can be granted Funded Nursing Care (FNC). Visit our page on what affects cost to find out more. |
Not all residential homes or nursing homes can support people living with dementia, but many of Care UK’s do. Whether your loved one needs residential dementia care or nursing dementia care will depend on their situation.
Read more about dementia care at Care UK's homes.
Many care homes provide both residential care and nursing care. These homes are dual-registered and are ideal for residents who do not need nursing care immediately but who may down the line as their needs change.
If you’re still unsure whether your loved one needs nursing care or residential care, consider whether they have any medical conditions that require regular monitoring, whether they have any complex medical needs, and their mobility – do they require a hoist to move from their bed?