The Main Differences Between a Care Home and a Nursing Home

By Harrison Jones

A time will come when you need to commit to a care home or a nursing home. However, there’s a dilemma most people contend with: what’s the significant difference between a nursing home and a care home? This is easily one of the most searched questions on major search engines nowadays.

The most glaring difference between a care home and a nursing home is the care each setting provides and the staff administering this care. It also has to do with the total cost of care. Paying for a nursing home or care home can be expensive, especially if you’re a self-funder. Fortunately, you can pay for these services via several means.

You may consider instalment loans, which is an excellent option, particularly if you have a pension. Getting adequate financial support from the local authority is another viable option.

That said, here’s what you need to know about care homes and nursing homes and the differences between them.

What’s a Care Home?

Care homes—sometimes known as residential care homes—provide a safe environment for older adults. This is you can get support for personal care, including washing, dressing, and activities that foster socialisation.

In care homes, highly trained or certified care assistants offer utmost care 24 hours daily. Residents at care homes are mostly the elderly, and their considerable need for care due to degenerative health conditions is often linked to ageing. Reduced mobility is one of the reasons the elderly may need care assistants around them most of the time.

Average Cost of a Care Home in the UK

The average cost of a care home in the United Kingdom is £704 per week and £2,816 per month. However, the cost can vary widely based on location. For example, reports from 2019 to 2020 indicate that the average weekly residential home care cost ranged from as low as £551 in Northern Ireland to as high as £858 in Scotland.

Services Provided by a Care Home

First off, a care home doesn’t provide nursing care since it’s not for individuals that generally require complex or specialist medical care from registered nurses. It only offers support and personal care services to older adults and can also administer maintenance medication. This means care staff in residential care homes don’t offer healthcare services to treat specific medical conditions.

However, care homes have excellent connections with local health experts, such as physiotherapists, general practitioners, and dentists capable of visiting residents if the need arises. Alternatively, an arrangement can be made for care staff to accompany residents to medical appointments outside the home.

In simple words, a care home provides the following services:

  • Assist with dressing and undressing
  • Administer medication
  • Personal care, including washing, bathing, hygiene, nail and skin care
  • Assist with incontinence and toileting support
  • Support mobility, such as help with getting in and out of a chair
  • Stimulate activities to encourage mental and physical exercise
  • Snacks and meals throughout the day 
  • Help with eating if necessary or required

A care home can accommodate residents with dementia, while a few even specialise in specific age-related health conditions.

What’s a Nursing Home?

Nursing homes offer registered nursing care for residents needing higher levels of care. This could be a long-term care need or immediate care following being discharged from a hospital. Similar to residential care homes, they also offer in-home entertainment and social activities. 

Care in a nursing home is provided 24 hours per day by registered nurses and assisted by care assistants.

Every resident requires a few elements of nursing care, such as wound care, the administration of intravenous medication, and the like. For these reasons, 24-hour nursing care is essential in a nursing home.

Average Cost of a Nursing Home in the UK

Nursing homes in the UK cost an average of £888 weekly. The average cost of a nursing home in the United Kingdom is much higher than that of a care home. Similarly, location determines the cost of a nursing home in the UK.

For instance, nursing homes in London are the most expensive, with an average cost of more than £1,400 per week. However, nursing homes in Surrey, a county in southeastern England, come a close second as they cost £1,305 per week on average.

The most affordable nursing homes in England are located in Hull, a large fishing port in northeastern England. About 40% of nursing homes in England now cost over £1,000 per week for ultimate care.

Services Provided by a Nursing Home

Nursing homes provide all the services you’ll find at a residential care home. However, they also offer the following additional services:

  • Constant monitoring of residents with moderate to severe health conditions.
  • Provide care for patients with medical conditions that require specialist knowledge
  • Mobility for bed-bound residents or those requiring hoisting to move from a bed to a chair or vice versa
  • Access to social and recreational activities for mental and physical stimulation

What Type of Care Is Right for You?

Choosing a care home or nursing home can be a challenging decision. However, your needs will determine the type of care that’s right for you.

Therefore, if you struggle to live alone and require 24/7 support with personal care routines and have reduced mobility due to increasing frailness, you may need the services of a residential care home. Care homes are also the preferred option if you struggle to cope following the death of a partner or spouse.

However, if you suffer from a complex medical condition that requires constant monitoring and support from registered nurses and specialists, you’ll need the services a nursing home offers.

Differentiating between a care home and a nursing home can be challenging. As outlined above, a nursing home offers more benefits than a care home and is more expensive. A care home is ideal for residents who don’t have medical conditions that require 24/7 support and monitoring. Ultimately, your specific needs will determine the type of care to opt for: a residential or a nursing home.

Author’s Bio:

Harrison has been a freelance financial reporter for the past 6 years. He knows the major trends in the financial world. Jones’s experience and useful tips help people manage their budgets wisely.