We use cookies to allow us and selected partners to improve your experience and our advertising. By continuing to browse you consent to our use of cookies. You can understand more and change your cookies preferences here.

Financing care
Learn about funding options for home care, home adaptations and care homes, together with Attendance Allowance, gifting assets and Power of Attorney.
Housing options
Consider your options and learn about sheltered housing, retirement villages and care homes.
End of life
Guidance on the practical and emotional aspects at the end of life, from planning end of life care to arranging a funeral and coping with bereavement.

When should you consider a care home?

If your loved one can no longer live alone, a care home move may help. Residential care homes give personal care; nursing homes have an on-site nurse.
3 min read
In this article
Why choose a care home? A care home isn't the only option How to choose a care home

Why choose a care home?


It might be time to consider a care home if your loved one is struggling to live alone even with the help of carers, friends and other relations. Or it could be that, say, following a fall and time in hospital a needs assessment indicates that a care home is the best place for your relative or friend to live.


There are likely to be three main reasons why you and your family member may be considering a care home. A care home can help with personal care (such as supervision, washing, dressing or going to the toilet) or nursing care (medical care from a qualified nurse), or both.

Use our directory to find local residential and nursing care homes across the UK.

If your loved one needs additional help 

Consider the following situations – it might be time to consider a care home if the person you’re supporting has:

  • had a recent significant deterioration, caused by an illness or a fall, in their physical health or mobility
  • shown a significant deterioration in their mental health, such as advancing dementia, which limits their ability to stay safely in their own home
  • experienced the loss of help that a partner, relative or neighbour previously provided
  • shown signs of loneliness, isolation or depression.

If your loved one needs help with personal care 

A care home without nursing (also known as a residential care home) offers personal care, such as help getting up in the morning, going to bed at night, going to the toilet and eating meals. These might be a good option for people who need regular or frequent help with personal care, and who can no longer have their needs met at home. However, if your family member needs help with personal care, a care home isn’t necessarily the only option. 


If your relative or friend: 

  • wants to remain independent, home care services and other help could provide assistance
  • finds that staying in their own home is no longer viable, think about extra care housing 
  • needs help with personal care, another possible solution might be for them to share your home with you.


If your family member wants to consider any of these care options, the first step is to get a needs assessment from their local authority.

My top tip is that if there is the remotest possibility that your relative needs to move into a home, start to look at the homes in your area straight away so that you can rule out those you don't like and you've got a shortlist.


If your loved one needs nursing care 

If the person you’re caring for is unable to leave their bed, or has any sort of medical condition or illness that requires frequent medical attention, their options are more limited. Long-term nursing care is not provided in sheltered housing or through home care services, so it’s likely that, if your loved one needs medical care, you will need to look for a nursing home, which will provide this level of care.

Use our calculator to find out the cost of a care home in your area and what financial support is available.


Read our list of the pros and cons of a care home for more help with deciding whether a care home is the right solution.


A care home isn't the only option


A move into a care home is a big step. For many people, it’s only considered when other care options have been exhausted or are no longer suitable.


Other people might tell you that a care home is the only option for your loved one, but don’t just assume they are right. Solutions such as care at home or sheltered housing might be more suitable. Make sure that you research all the options with the person you’re supporting before making a decision.


How to choose a care home


If you decide to start looking for a residential care home, read our article on choosing a care home for tips on how to get started. You'll also find a handy checklist of the key questions to ask when checking out a home for the first time.

Further reading

Care homes in the UK

Learn about care home providers, registered care homes and specialist support in care homes.

Choosing a care home

How to make a shortlist of suitable care homes, and uncover key information to ensure your loved one’s needs are met.

Last updated: 12 Aug 2020