Residential care homes provide living accommodation, usually in an en suite room with meals in a dining area and help with personal care, such as washing, dressing and going to the toilet.

What is residential care?

By its very nature, life in a residential care home is usually more varied and active than that in a nursing home. Staff are on hand to care for the residents 24 hours a day, although in residential care homes this won’t include nursing care.

So if your relative currently needs personal care, but has an illness or disability that may require nursing care in the near future, consider a care home that offers both types of care. This way you can ‘upgrade’ your relative’s care plan if their needs change without having to move him or her again.

Conversely, you might think that sheltered housing will provide much of the support that your relative needs and in a more informal setting.

What might be on offer in a residential care home?

Many residential care homes have activity coordinators who arrange regular activities both in the home and out and about. These can include:

  • trips to leisure facilities
  • outings to places of interest
  • social events in the home
  • arts and craft groups, such as painting, flower arranging and knitting
  • games, such as dominoes or bridge
  • music evenings.

Health and personal care should also be attended to, with support from external professionals such as:

  • the local GP
  • district nurse
  • physiotherapist
  • chiropodist
  • holistic therapists
  • hairdresser
  • vicar, priest or leader from other religious denominations.

If there is any particular hobby or interest that is important to your relative, check with the care home managers when you are choosing a care home if these supported.

More information

  • Sheltered housing: read this guide to learn about the different kinds of sheltered housing that are available
  • Nursing homes: what you can expect from care homes that look after people with nursing needs
  • Find a care home: our care services directory searchable by postcode for all the care homes in your relative’s area.

Page last reviewed: 31 March 2015
Next review due: 30 September 2016