What's the difference between a Care Home and a Nursing Home?

Front of our residential care home

One of the most commonly asked questions people have when it is time for their loved one to move into residential care is what the difference between a care home and a nursing home is. Different types of care homes work differently and provide different levels of care. Sometimes, what people refer to as a ‘care home’ may in fact be a care home that only provides residential care, known as a residential care home. A residential care home is different from a nursing home. The main difference is that a nursing home always has a qualified nurse on-site to provide medical care.


Both nursing homes and residential care homes provide care and support 24 hours a day, however, the main difference is that a nursing home is able to provide a higher level of care. Nursing homes have qualified nurses on-site around the clock to provide medical care as needed whereas residential homes help people with personal care and support them to engage in physical activity.


Residential care homes provide 24-hour personal care and support for people who need help with daily tasks, such as washing, dressing or eating, but do not need nursing care. This can be provided on a short-term or long-term basis. Although some residential care homes can cater for some nursing needs through special care facilities or visiting health professionals, they are mainly for older adults who are unable to live independently and manage their personal hygiene, medication and toileting or struggle with mobility.

Residential care home residents may have a physical disability, a learning disability, mental health issues or other care needs due to old age, but do not need frequent medical treatment. Staff at residential care settings are trained to provide the care and support residents need on a daily basis, such as administering medication but may not be qualified to provide medical care. In addition to the care provided, residential settings also help residents engage in social and physical activity, host events and parties and organise trips out.


Nursing Home Care is provided 24-hours a day by Registered Nurses who are supported by Care Assistants. All residents require some element of nursing care such as administration of intravenous medication and or wound care; these are just a few possible reasons why 24-hour nursing care would be required. Typically nursing home costs are higher than those of a residential care home, the reason for this is that generally the needs of the individual are greater and as such require additional staff, facilities and resources to support complex care requirements.


There are some great articles to read on care home subjects written by carehome.co.uk.






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