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

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

Author: Philippa Thompson

There are different options for residential care in later life. In this article, we explore the difference between nursing homes and care homes, the types of care provided and how to decide which is right for you.

When it is time to make the move into residential care, the choices can feel overwhelming and complicated for those trying to navigate the most appropriate options available for their loved ones. With each individual having their own unique set or circumstances and needs, choosing the most suitable care option can be a difficult task for older people and their relatives.

A care home and a nursing home can often be confused as being one and the same, and whilst they do share similarities – both provide accommodation, meals, care, and support to their residents –the level and type of care differs.

In the simplest terms, a care home provides 24-hour support to its residents, and in addition to this, a nursing home always has qualified nursing professionals on-site to provide medical care.

Understanding the nuances between a care home and a nursing home can help to inform the best care decisions for yourself or your loved one both now and in the future.

Care home care

Residential care homes provide support and care to their residents 24 hours a day. Qualified care staff help with daily tasks such as washing, dressing, eating, administering medication, and mobility as well as provide opportunities to engage in social and physical activities.

Care home staff are trained to provide care and support to their residents but will not necessarily be qualified to provide medical care and as such they are often supported by visiting health professionals such as district nurses.

Care homes are ideal for those who are no longer able to live independently and need support with day-to-day tasks but do not need frequent medical treatment.

Nursing home care

In addition to the same help and support provided by care homes, nursing homes (also known as care homes with nursing) provide nursing care and assistance for residents who require regular supervision by a registered medical professional such as a nurse, who is based on site and available at all times.

Nursing homes are a preferred option for those who have medical conditions requiring regular treatment from registered nurses.

Having registered nurses on site, means that residents’ symptoms and needs can be constantly monitored and they have immediate access to medical professionals whenever they need it.
Some nursing homes specialise in a specific conditions or complex medical needs such as severe physical disabilities, cancer or dementia (The Dower House is unable to meet the needs of people who live with dementia).

How to choose the right home

If you are unsure whether a care home or a nursing home is the most appropriate option for you or your loved one, then a needs and care assessment from your local council’s adult social care services will be an invaluable place to start. The assessment will make suggestions about the level of care that is most appropriate, and your social worker can recommend local care homes and nursing homes that can provide that care.

Your local council can also do a financial assessment and, depending on your eligibility, may be able to provide financial support. If you have nursing needs, the NHS may contribute towards the nursing care component of your care home fees.

Once you have established which type of home is appropriate it is important to do your own research of the homes in your local area. This is a place that you or your loved one could potentially live for several years, and it is important that you feel at home and that you make an informed decision. Request a brochure, speak with the Manager or staff of the home you are interested in and visit the home to get a feel for it.

Factors to consider when choosing a home include location and proximity to close relatives who can visit, surroundings and outdoor spaces to enjoy, level of care and medical support, friendliness and cleanliness, services and activities, and cost. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) rating is also a useful indicator of good quality care in health and adult social care in England.

Nursing care at The Dower House

The Dower House is a nursing home in the Hampshire countryside just north of Winchester.

We employ a high ratio of professional nursing staff to residents. In addition to our highly experienced Matron and Deputy Matron, you will be cared for by State Registered Nurses (RGN), a State Enrolled Nurse (SEN) and Care Assistants who provide care 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you’d like to book a visit to find out more about nursing care at The Dower House and to view the facilities, please call us on 01962 882848 or click the ‘Book a visit’ button below.

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