What is residential care?
Residential care is care provided in a home for people who struggle to live independently and need additional support, but aren’t yet in need of nursing care.
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.
By its very nature, life in a residential care home is usually more varied and active than in a nursing home. Staff are on hand to care for the residents 24 hours a day, seven days a week, although in residential care homes this won’t include nursing care.
So if the person you’re caring for 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. In this way, you can ‘upgrade’ your loved one’s care plan if their needs change without having to move them again.
Conversely, you might think that sheltered housing will provide much of the support that they need, and in a more informal setting.
How much does residential care cost?
Research by LaingBuisson for its Care of Older People UK market report (January 2021) indicates that the average weekly cost of care in a residential care home in the UK in the financial year 2019-20 was £672; or £34,944 per year.
For more detailed information about the cost of care in any part of England, use our cost of care and eligibility checker.
If you live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, find out more about the cost of care homes in your area in our article about care home fees.
Residential care homes close to you
You can also use our care services directory to help you to search for residential care homes near you or your loved one. You can filter the directory to search for, say, residential care homes that specialise in dementia care.
What might life be like in a residential care home?
As well as looking after all your loved one’s day-to-day needs, 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
- exercise, such as chair aerobics
- gardening, if there are grounds at the home
- music evenings.
If there is any particular hobby or interest that is important to the person you’re caring for, check with the care home manager if these are supported when you are choosing a care home.
Health and personal care should also be attended to, with support from external professionals such as:
- the local GP
- district nurse
- holistic therapists
- vicar, priest or other religious leaders.
How to choose a care home
When you start looking for a suitable residential care home, use our handy checklist of the key questions to ask when visiting a home for the first time.
More real-life stories
Find more real-life stories related to different stages of caring
Learn about care home providers, registered care homes and specialist support in care homes.
Nursing homes provide extra nursing care for older people who can no longer look after themselves.
Prepare yourself with questions to ask when choosing a care home, find out about fees, and have a good look around.