What is the difference between residential care homes and nursing care homes?

Providing Care
5 min read
Nicole. Nicole

In the search for care you may see the terms “residential care” and “nursing care” but what is the difference? While both offer long-term, short-term and respite stays there are a few differences, one of the main ones being that with nursing care you always have a qualified nurse on staff. If you are wondering which care home will best suit your, or a loved one's needs, here are the other differences that can help you make an informed decision.

Residential Care Homes

These facilities can offer assistance with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, eating, and medication management. The focus is on providing a supportive and home-like environment for individuals who need some assistance but do not require extensive medical care. Residential care can be great for individuals who need 24-hour assistance or waking night care.

Residential care homes will try to encourage a level of independence from their residents and encourage them to maintain a structured lifestyle. There will often be events such as game nights or outings to help create social interactions and friendships, which help provide emotional support and fight feelings of isolation.

Staff members in residential care homes are trained to provide non-medical assistance. They may include caregivers, personal care aides, and other support staff. As there are no medical staff on hand, residential care homes will usually provide accommodation and support to the following individuals:

Older Adults
Residential care homes often cater to older adults who may require support with activities of daily living or those who may be experiencing difficulties living independently due to age-related factors.

Physical or Cognitive Limitations
Individuals with physical limitations or cognitive impairments, such as Dementia or Alzheimer's disease.

Assistance with Daily Living
Residents of residential care homes typically need assistance with tasks such as bathing, dressing, grooming, medication management, and meal preparation.

Social Isolation or Loneliness
Individuals who are socially isolated or experiencing loneliness may find companionship and social interaction in residential care homes, where communal living spaces and organised activities are available.

Nursing Care Homes

Nursing care homes provide a higher level of medical care than residential homes. One of the defining features of nursing care homes is the presence of qualified nursing staff, including registered nurses. These professionals are trained to provide medical care, administer medications, and manage health conditions. In addition to nursing services, they offer activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, eating, medication management, and rehabilitation services. Residents in nursing care homes often have more complex medical needs than those in residential care homes.

Nursing care homes typically offer 24-hour nursing care and supervision to ensure that residents receive prompt attention in case of medical emergencies or changes in health conditions. Nursing homes usually cater to the following individuals:

Complex Medical Needs
Individuals with complex medical needs that require ongoing nursing care, such as those with chronic illnesses, advanced stages of dementia, or individuals recovering from surgeries or serious illnesses.

Need for Skilled Nursing Care
Individuals requiring regular medical treatments, medication administration, and monitoring of health conditions.

Rehabilitation Services
Individuals who require rehabilitation services, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, or speech therapy. This is especially relevant for those recovering from surgeries, strokes, or other health events.

24-Hour Nursing Supervision
Nursing homes provide 24-hour nursing supervision, making them suitable for individuals who need constant medical attention or have conditions that may require immediate intervention.

Assistance with Daily Living
Like residential care homes, nursing homes also offer assistance with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, grooming, and meals. However, the emphasis in nursing homes is on integrating medical care with daily support services.

Assessment by Healthcare Professionals
Eligibility for nursing home placement often involves assessments by healthcare professionals, such as doctors, nurses, or social workers, to determine the individual's specific medical and care needs.

If you believe you or a loved one are looking for residential care homes or nursing care homes in your area, click here to find a room today!

Depending on your or your loved ones' needs, you may consider alternative forms of care within the home. You may find our information on the different types of care useful in your search for assistance.