Your shortlist

Are you happy to accept "Functional" cookies?

We use a cookie for this feature.  This is so that the feature continues to work as you navigate the website and to save it so it's still available when you return.

Save your shortlisted homes here.

As you search for a care home, add your shortlisted homes here by clicking the heart icon. You'll find all your choices here for ease of reference.

Find homes

What's the difference between a care home and a nursing home?

About care homes

Wondering if residential care or nursing care is right for your loved one? 

Here we’ll explore the ins and outs of the services that care homes and nursing homes provide so you can decide which is the best option for you. 

Care homes, also called residential care homesoffer 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 homesNursing homes
Care needsIndividuals 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 trainingOur 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.
CostCosts 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. 

Do care homes or nursing homes offer dementia care? 

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.


Dual-registered 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. 


Does my loved one need nursing care? 

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? 

If you have more questions, why not get in touch with our care support team who will be happy to help.

Back to Help and Advice

Share this article