What’s The Difference Between Nursing Care And Residential Care Homes?

When searching for the right care option for you or a loved one, you might come across various facilities, which can make things confusing. You may also encounter new terminology, as you are trying to navigate the Adult Social Care system. For example, residential care and nursing care homes are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same. Although both options provide 24/7 support and help with everyday tasks, there are a few key differences that you need to know about when looking for the right care option. This is why, today we have put together a handy guide, outlining the differences between nursing care and residential care homes, as well as what services you can expect from each.

Residential Care Homes

Residential care homes provide residents with their own bedrooms, as well as a shower and a toilet. The aim is to help them maintain their independence as much as possible, allowing them to personalise their space and decorate it with meaningful items. There are also communal areas which can be accessed by all residents, where they can socialise with each other. Staff are available to offer support with various tasks, such as moving around, dressing, washing, and taking medication. In addition, there are usually social and leisure activities that residents can take part in.

Nursing Homes

In comparison, nursing homes offer ongoing medical care and support by registered nurses, as well as care assistants. This means that these facilities are more suited to individuals with significant health needs, such as physical or mental health conditions. As a result, residents are more likely to need day-to-day medical attention. In general, individuals receive the same type of care in both residential and nursing homes, but nursing homes focus on meeting their more advanced needs. Registered nurses can provide medical interventions by administering injections or treating wounds.

Getting A Needs Assessment

It may also be helpful to get a needs assessment to find out if you qualify for NHS Continuing Healthcare. This type of assessment is called a CHC assessment and it is conducted with a nursing professional and a social worker. They are important as they determine whether the NHS will pay all, none, or part of the cost of your care, depending on what your health needs are. Make sure you prepare well for this assessment, since there is a possibility that you might not have to contribute towards the cost of your care. If you are unsure about anything, be sure to check out our FAQs page.

Care Needs

One of the most important differences between nursing care and residential care homes is about residents’ care needs. While individuals in a residential care home might need help with their personal care, those in a nursing home will have a variety of medical needs. Residential care homes will aim to support residents with everyday tasks, providing them with a home from home experience, where they can also welcome visitors, if they want to. However, nursing care facilities are supported by specialist medical teams, focused on providing care to people with disabilities, long-term medical conditions, or immobility.

Staff Training

Consequently, staff training will differ, which means that in residential care settings care assistants will be trained to get to know each resident and tailor their care according to their unique needs. They will focus on supporting residents with whatever they may need, such as taking part in activities and outings to provide companionship. On the other hand, nursing homes offer in-depth medical services, ensuring that nurses are highly skilled in a range of areas so that they can support residents with their ever-evolving needs. Also, nursing care is often supported by GPs and pharmacists to ensure quality support.


When it comes to costs, you will find that the amount you will pay for care and support depends on your individual needs. However, costs for residential care are lower in comparison to nursing care, so you may need to think about your finances first. In general, the more care you require, the higher the costs will be in nursing care facilities. This is because residents in nursing care homes are more likely to need access to specialised care and treatment, as well as additional support and facilities. Nevertheless, you might be eligible for financial support, so it’s worth doing some research to understand your options. Usually the NHS will pay for part or all of your care home fees when you need nursing care, but you’ll need a CHC assessment before they will agree this.

When To Choose A Residential Care Home

You may be wondering whether you should choose a residential care home and what you should consider. Generally, residential care homes might be better for elderly people, who may be experiencing age-related health issues. For example, you might have reduced mobility, which means that you may need some help getting in and out of bed. This could be a great solution for you, if you don’t have any specialist needs, but you still need some support living comfortably.

When To Choose A Nursing Care Home

If you have complex health needs, it can be a good idea to look into nursing care homes, where you will have daily access to registered nurses. Nursing care is more suitable for elderly people with more advanced physical and mental disabilities or long-term conditions. There will be a team of dedicated nurses, who will monitor your health and intervene if more urgent or intensive care is needed. Moreover, a nursing care facility may provide a less clinical setting, where you can still receive the care that you need.

Which Option Is Best?

Ultimately, the best option will depend on your unique needs, so you should take the time to determine what you need. Our team at Socia Partners can help you make the right decision and eliminate the stress and anxiety that you may be feeling when it comes to choosing the best care option. You can also read more about our services and pricing to get a better insight into what we do and how we can help. To choose between the two options, consider whether you have any major medical conditions, which may result in high needs or if you need general support with daily tasks.

Make sure you get in touch with us, if you are looking for more information regarding adult social care.


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