The Difference Between Residential Care & Nursing Care Discussed by Bristol Care Homes

There are lots of differences between Residential Care & Nursing Care and often people don’t always know which is the best option for themselves, family members, friends or loved ones. We can tell you everything you need to know and everything you should consider when making a decision about whether to choose a residential care or nursing home.

The terms Residential Care & Nursing Care are often confused as many people don’t understand the differences between the two. The one that you choose will depend on an individual’s care and medical needs both now and in the future.

Both residential care and nursing care provide 24-hour personal care to residents within a homely setting, it will include meals, snacks, laundry, cleaning as well as personal care, including help with tasks such as bathing, shaving and dressing if needed, around the clock. In addition to this, nursing care also provides 24 hours nursing care and support and it is suited to individuals with more complex and ongoing medical conditions and needs.

Both residential and nursing homes can be privately owned and run by individuals, a company that owns and runs a group of homes or they can be run by local councils.

What is a Residential Care Home?

A residential care home provides 24-hour personal care and support for people who need help with daily tasks, such as washing, dressing or eating. They are suited for individuals who don’t have ongoing medical conditions which require more complex and regular medication administration or nursing support. Residential care can be provided on a short-term basis as a break for an individual, or on a long-term, permanent basis if an individual can no longer manage on their own. In some cases, people will also move into a residential care home if they are feeling lonely, isolated or unsafe at home.

Residential care homes have a team on duty 24 hours a day and this will include a number of qualified care assistants with Level 2 or 3 NVQs who are trained to provide the personal care and support residents need. A residential care home has to be run by someone with a Registered Managers Award or an equivalent management qualification and experience.

Some residential care homes can cater for some medical conditions and will use a special care facility or a visiting health professional for any ad hoc medical needs. As an example, if a resident requires a complex wound to be treated, medication administered via an injection or a drip then a district nurse would be called in to assist, much like if they were still living at home.

Some residential care homes can cater for residents who have a physical disability, a learning disability, mental health issues or other care needs but it would depend on an individual’s specific needs.

A residential care home provides social interaction through mealtimes, their communal lounges and gardens as well as planned activities which can be crafts, gardening, physical exercise, parties, singers, trips out and much more. Care home staff will encourage the residents to get involved with the activities and it should feel very much like home from home for them.

A needs assessment arranged by your local council establishes the specific care that someone needs, as well as other ways of supporting them without the need for them to move into a home if they don’t want to. A specialist team completes the assessment which everyone is entitled to if they are finding they need more medical or non-medical support,  regardless of their income and financial situation.

A residential care home manager will talk to the individual needing the extra support, along with their family members and use the needs assessment completed to ensure they are able to cater for them at the home.

The cost of a residential care home is less compared to a nursing home due to not having registered nurses on duty 24 hours a day. Costs will vary, will depend on the care needed as well as where you are based in the country.

What is Residential Care?

Residential care is often referred to as a care home for the elderly as most residents are in this demographic and are finding independent living more difficult, and at times lonely.

Residential care homes are suitable for anyone who is highly dependent on others for assistance with personal care and daily tasks. If family members are struggling to help and support a family member every day this often results in them worrying about them physically and emotionally so a residential home is a good option to consider.

Residential care should help residents to maintain as much independence as possible, whilst giving them the support and social interaction they need to live happily and safely. People living in a residential care home often reduces the risks associated with them living alone as well as the worry for family members and friends.

Residential care is tailored to a person’s individual needs and each resident will have an individual care plan which is reviewed regularly by the team. A care plan gives resident’s the confidence they can be helped with the things they need support with whilst still maintaining their independence, meaning they can do as much as they are able and comfortable to do.

Residential Care

  • Independent living, with support available for different aspects of daily living if and when needed
  • Autonomy to choose entertainment, social activities, food, routine
  • A home from home environment with a family feel with residents and staff
  • Visitors welcome during the day
  • 24-hour staff with a determined ratio of qualified care assistants per resident
  • Care tailored to the needs of the individual with as much help and support that is needed
  • Individual en-suite bedrooms and shared communal facilities

Residential Care Support

  • Support getting in and out of bed safely
  • Help with getting dressed, washing and personal care
  • Help using the toilet
  • Washing and personal hygiene
  • Moving around the home safely
  • Nutritious, healthy and varied meals & snacks
  • Stimulating physical activities
  • Planned social activities & events

If someone is relatively independent and has no major medical conditions and the services above would benefit them and give them a more relaxed and happy life then a residential care home may be the right choice for them. Residential care homes are a home, and a place of safety and security for your loved one where a caring and qualified team are always on hand to support them when they need it, along with lots of social interaction from staff and other residents. Research has shown that regular ad hoc and planned social interaction stimulates social and physical activity keeping residents both physically and mentally alert, as well as boosting endorphins and happiness.

Residential Care & Nursing Care

What is a Nursing Care Home?

Nursing Care Homes provide 24-hour care and support for their residents much like a residential care home does. They have carers and care assistants with Level 2 or 3 NVQ’s on duty, along with the added support of registered nurses on hand 24 hours a day.

The specialist medical care provided by a Nursing Home is 24/7 and is suited to individuals with long term health and medical conditions which need monitoring and support with. The registered nurses are trained to identify symptoms and changes to residents’ conditions and treat them or recognise when they need to call for a GP or other medical support. Even though a nursing home is more medically focused the accommodation includes individual en-suite bedrooms, shared communal facilities focusing on having a home from home feel.

A nursing care home also provides social interaction through mealtimes, their communal lounges and gardens as well as planned activities which can be crafts, gardening, physical exercise, parties, singers, trips out and much more. Nursing home staff will encourage the residents to get involved with the activities and it should feel very much like home from home for them.

If you are under the care of one or more medical professionals (GP, consultant or registered nurse) then this would indicate that nursing care is needed rather than residential care.

The adult social services department of your local council will arrange for a specialist team to come out and conduct a needs assessment. There is no cost to an assessment and everyone is entitled to have one if they are finding they are needing more support with everyday living, whether medical or non-medical and regardless of their income and savings.

A needs assessment establishes the care that is needed, as well as if there are other ways of supporting a person without the need for them to move into a nursing home. A nursing home manager and nurse will use the care needs assessment and assess the needs of an individual to ensure they are able to cater for their medical needs. Every nursing home has care categories and this helps when you are searching for a suitable home for yourself or a loved one. These categories can be anything from severe learning disabilities, dementia or complex conditions relating to cancer, mental illness or severe physical disabilities.

People living with dementia can be supported in a residential care home, however, a nursing home that specialises in dementia care will have specialist dementia nurses, be equipped and have the experience to care for people living with the disease.

Nursing homes are able to provide a higher level of care for people with more complex medical needs and this means they cost more than the care of a residential home.

Nursing Care

  • Suitable for people with disabilities, immobility and long term medical conditions
  • Registered nurses on duty 24/7 who can cater for complex medical conditions that require specialist knowledge and monitoring
  • Supported by GP’s, pharmacists and specialist medical teams to ensure the highest standards of care
  • Specialist equipment including beds, hoists and much more
  • Independence with support given for different aspects of living if needed
  • Autonomy to choose entertainment, social activities, food and routine
  • A home from home environment with a family and homely feel
  • Visitors welcome
  • 24-hour staff with a determined ratio of registered nurses, qualified care assistants and carers
  • Care tailored to the needs of the individual with as much help and support needed
  • Individual en-suite bedrooms and shared communal facilities

Nursing Care Support

  • Support with the administration of medication
  • Ongoing medical review of health
  • Support getting in and out of bed safely
  • Help with getting dressed, washing and personal care
  • Help using the toilet
  • Washing and personal hygiene
  • Moving around the home safely
  • Nutritious, healthy and varied meals & snacks
  • Stimulating physical activities
  • Planned social activities & events

Nursing homes offer the same benefits and the homely feel of residential homes when it comes to social activities and interaction. Residents will feel at home and be able to enjoy their favourite hobbies, planned activities and trips out as well as retreat to their own rooms any time they want to.

In summary, a nursing home is able to provide care for people with more complex medical needs and those who need regular nursing interventions. If there are medical issues on the horizon for an individual it is best to opt for a nursing home that will be able to cater for them in the future so they won’t have the anxiety and stress of moving again.

NHS-funded nursing care (FNC) is when the NHS pays for the nursing care component of nursing home fees. The NHS pays a flat rate directly to the care home towards the cost of this nursing care. You can find out everything you need to know about NHS-funded nursing care (FNC) here.

What is Nursing Care?

A nursing home will provide all of the day-to-day care that you would expect from a residential care home, however, the care is overseen by registered nurses who are on duty 24/7.

Anyone who has an illness or medical condition that needs regular medical support are better suited to a nursing home where nurses are available around the clock as any planned interventions can be carried out at convenient times rather than waiting for a district nurse to arrive. Interventions can include, intravenous medication, catheterisation, treating wounds and taking blood samples. Registered nurses are experienced and trained to recognise symptoms and changes in a person’s health to either treat as they need to or call a GP or other health professional for additional support.

Nursing care is tailored to a person’s needs and each resident will have an individual care plan which is reviewed regularly by the nursing team. A care plan should be adapted to support a resident with the things they need help with, allowing them to maintain their independence in the areas they are comfortable will.

Nursing homes will have the equipment needed to help with special needs such as beds, moving equipment, bathrooms and much more and each nursing home will have categories of care they specialise in.

Nursing homes are a home and a place of safety and security for your loved one where a caring and qualified team are always on hand to support them when they need it, along with lots of social interaction from staff and the other residents. Research has shown that regular social interaction and activities stimulate social and physical wellbeing, supporting good physical ability and positive mental wellbeing and happiness.

What is a Specialist Dementia Nursing Home?

It is now known that people living with dementia require a specialist level of care from dementia trained nurses who are able to quickly recognise the changes and deterioration in a person’s health, adapting their care plan and routine as needed. Nursing homes that specialise in dementia care will have registered mental health nurses caring for patients and the homes will be physically and visibly suitable for dementia patients including, signs to help them find their way around the home safely, calming décoration and colours as well as increased levels of security to prevent wandering. They will provide a level of care that cannot be offered in a regular residential home.

What are the Main Differences Between Residential Care & Nursing Care?

  • A nursing home provides all the care of a residential care home as well as always having a qualified nurse on-site 24/7 who is able to provide medical care and administer medication when needed
  • A nursing home can provide care for people with more complex physical and medical needs and for those who need regular nursing interventions
  • Nursing homes tend to cost more than residential homes, however, this will depend on the type of care needed and where in the country you are

What should I consider when deciding Between Residential Care & Nursing Care?

  • All types of care settings have to specify the level of care they can provide and demonstrate how they can meet each resident’s needs against their needs assessment. It is important to consider needs both now and in the future to ensure they won’t have the upheaval and stress of moving into a different home further down the line
  • The location of the home and how easy it will be for family members and friends to visit regularly
  • The Care Quality Commission Ratings (CQC) for the home –
    Outstanding – The service is performing exceptionally well
    Good – The service is performing well and meeting our expectations
    Requires improvement – The service is not performing as well as it should and we have told the service how it must improve
    Inadequate – The service is performing badly and we’ve taken action against the person or organisation that runs it
  • How the setting feels when you visit
  • Don’t ever just go and visit once, go a couple of times and even request that the person who may be considering moving in goes and stays with them for a couple of days before you make your decision.

Questions to ask yourself

  • Does it feel welcoming and homely
  • Is the food prepared fresh and onsite
  • How do the staff interact with the residents
  • Are there residents in the communal areas
  • Does the home have a lovely garden
  • Does the home feel clean and fresh
  • Are the bedrooms clean and fresh
  • Are the bathrooms and toilets clean

Which is the right setting for you or your loved one?

It can be a really difficult time when you are considering that you may need extra help and this may be moving into a care or nursing home.

To ensure you know what is available to you and the type of care you need you should request a Needs Assessment from your local council. Everyone is entitled to a care needs assessment and it will identify your care needs and recommend whether you need additional help at home, residential or nursing care.

It is a good idea to think about requesting a needs assessment if:

  • You are struggling to live alone and need more help around your home
  • You need more help with daily tasks
  • Your mobility has reduced
  • You have become frail and unable to do daily tasks such as washing, cooking and cleaning
  • You are feeling lonely and isolated
  • You are at risk when living alone due to restricted mobility, ongoing ill health or memory loss
  • You have been in hospital and need short-term respite to support you before you go home
  • You have a complex medical condition that you need support with
  • You have been recommended for residential care or nursing home living after a local authority needs assessment

How will I know if I am eligible for help towards the cost of care?

A local authority is required to conduct a ‘needs assessment’ when an adult may have needs for additional care and support. A needs assessment and the process is detailed here in Section 9 of the Care Act.

The adult social services department of your local council will arrange for a specialist team to come out to your home and complete a needs assessment. There is no cost for an assessment and anyone is entitled to one if they need support with everyday living, regardless of their income and financial situation.

How does funding for nursing and care homes work?

After a ‘needs assessment’ has been completed by the local council they will talk to you about the costs of the care that is recommended and, or needed as a result of the assessment. Some types of care and support are provided free of charge but often the local authority will charge some of, or all of the cost back to you. A local authority may pay for the total care or ask for an individual to contribute towards the cost of the full amount but this depends on an individual’s finances.

After a ‘care needs assessment’ has been completed your local authority will do a financial assessment to determine your ability to pay.

If the cost of the care reduces an individual’s income below a set level then the local authority will pay a proportion of the costs to ensure they are left with the minimum level of income to live from. This means that even if you have modest finances you will still receive the care that you need.

Find out everything you need to know about Residential and Nursing Home costs here.

About Bristol Care Homes Nursing Homes

In all of our 4 nursing care homes, we provide everything available in residential care as well as 24/7 medical support from our registered nurses for anyone with more complex medical needs.

We are an independently owned group of 4 high-quality Nursing Homes in Bristol. We have a team of dedicated carers, caring assistants and nurses who provide exceptional care and support every day. Our founding vision is to provide excellence in all aspects of care for all our residents.

Our service leads the way in care home provision and this shows in our Care Quality Commission Ratings:

Glebe House – Outstanding Glebe House Care Home Bristol CQC

Beech House – Outstanding Beech House Care Home Bristol CQC

Field House – Good Field House Care Home Bristol CQC

Quarry House – Good Quarry House Care Home Bristol CQC

We are always looking to change and be innovative in our care services and we offer many features which will help you or your loved one to maintain a high level of fulfilment and independence in life. Many of our services are unique to Bristol Care Homes and all include:

  • Beautiful gardens with plenty of greenery, trees and flowers
  • Environmentally designed buildings with 24/7 air circulation always keeping the atmosphere fresh and airy
  • Spacious rooms with increased ceiling height give the feel of openness
  • Wide corridors for ease of access
  • Television, DVD Player and direct line telephones in each room
  • Internet access in residents rooms
  • Customised high-quality wheelchairs provided when needed
  • High spec baths and walk-in showers for ease of use
  • Minibus services with a regular schedule of trips
  • Regular maintenance and replacement cycles of new carpets and decoration
  • Top-quality chefs producing tasty, varied and nutritious meals and snacks onsite every day
  • Interesting and stimulating social activities for all our residents
  • Warm, friendly and caring staff who get to know each resident and take time with them every day to ensure they are happy and fulfilled

Bristol Care Homes Registered Care Categories with the Care Quality Commission (CQC)

  • Dementia
  • Old Age
  • Physical Disability
  • Sensory Impairment

Bristol Care Homes Specialist Care Categories

  • Alzheimer’s
  • Bariatric Care/Obesity
  • Cancer Care
  • Challenging Behaviour
  • Colitis & Crohn’s Disease
  • Head/Brain Injury
  • Hearing Impairment
  • Huntington’s Disease
  • Motor Neurone Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Orthopaedic
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Speech Impairment
  • Stroke
  • Visual Impairment

Other Care Provided

  • Convalescent Care
  • Day Care
  • Own GP if required
  • Palliative Care
  • Physiotherapy
  • Respite Care
  • Separate Specialist Dementia Care Unit

If you are looking for Residential Care or Nursing Care for yourself or your loved one please contact us today to find out more about us, the services we offer and how we can help you find the Best Care Home in Bristol.