What is the difference between a care home and a nursing home?

If your loved ones are starting to need more support as they head into old age, you may need to consider a care or nursing home. This can be a very emotional time and you want to make sure they can get the best care and be happy. When considering the care home options available, it can be confusing to know the difference between them. A question we are often asked is ‘What is the difference between a care home and a nursing home?’

The difference between a residential care home and a nursing home 

Care homes 

For those who are struggling at home by themselves, or whose home carers can’t provide everything required, then a residential care home might be a suitable option.

Care homes provide 24-hour care from qualified carers to individuals who need help with eating, washing, dressing, and going to the toilet. 

Residents in care homes may have poor mental health or a physical disability because of ageing, but they do not need regular medical treatment.

In care homes, residents have their own room which they can personalise with their own photographs, art, ornaments, furnishings and keepsakes.

They will often have an ensuite and usually share a dining room and sitting room with other residents.

Residential care homes encourage physical activity and often provide a calendar of social activities, too.

Nursing homes 

For those looking for the reassurance of constant professional care, then a nursing home may be the way forward. 

Alongside all the benefits of residential care, nursing care adds the additional security of 24-hour care provision from a qualified nursing team with help from qualified care assistants. 

Nursing home residents tend to need a greater level of care and may have severe mobility problems or more complex medical conditions and are unable to look after themselves. 

As care homes have registered nurses, medical treatment can be administered when needed. 

Like residential care homes, nursing homes will also have an ensuite room for each resident and run social activities.

Due to the advanced level of care required, nursing homes can cost more. 

How do I know whether to choose a care home or a nursing home? 

To establish which one will be best for your loved one, ask a healthcare professional currently involved in their care. It is important to consider mobility, the complexity of medical conditions, and how quickly they may deteriorate over time. 

What is the best option for my loved one who has dementia? 

If your loved one is at a more advanced stage of dementia, it is more likely that a nursing home would be the best option.

If their memory loss is at an early stage, it is entirely possible that they would be able to live in a residential care home. 

Not all care homes can accommodate individuals with dementia, so this is a question that needs to be asked when considering your options.

What if my loved one has reduced mobility? 

Again, this depends on how restricted their mobility is. If your loved one walks with a stick and can still move around on their own, it is entirely possible they could live in a residential care home.

If they are at a stage where they are bed-bound, however, they will require a nursing home. 

Which setting is right for you or your loved one?

It can be tricky to know what care your loved one will require. You will need to contact your local council to ask for a needs assessment, and this will help to clarify what care will be needed. 

Other options to consider 

Residential care homes and nursing homes are not the only options available. 

You can also consider: 

  • Independent living – this will allow your loved one to buy or rent a property and live independently on their own in the grounds of a care home setting in an apartment or house. These are suitable for individuals who can live independently with no nursing needs, but who may require a little care support and the comfort of knowing help is available when needed. Independent living normally includes social activities, too. 
  • Respite care – this is temporary care offered when someone’s normal care is not available, or when the carer/family member needs to take a break from caring. Respite care is often used when an individual is recovering from an accident, surgery or an illness and the carer needs extra support. 
  • Convalescent care – like respite care, this short-term care offers support for individuals who are recovering from an accident, surgery or illness and helps them to become independent again. 
  • Home care services – another option is care in the comfort of your loved one’s home. 

How do you know which care home or nursing home is right for you? 

We would suggest you look at a variety of residential care and nursing homes and choose the one most suitable for your requirements. Make that you visit the homes to see if you like the environment, the location, and the staff and residents. Check out reviews and ask for recommendations. Reviews can be found on Care Homes website.

Why consider the Amesbury Abbey Group?

 The Amesbury Abbey Group is a family business that offers outstanding residential, nursing and specialist care, as well as beautiful homes for independent living. Individuals can make their own lifestyle choices, while having support as and when they need it, in stunning grounds where family and friends are welcome, and safety and security are of the utmost importance.