Whats in this section?

Whats in this section?

What are care homes?

Care homes provide accommodation and personal care. Some care homes also specialise in caring for specific needs, e.g. dementia or learning disabilities.

There are thousands of care homes across the UK, and no two are the same. Care homes can be run by: 

  • local councils, 
  • private companies 
  • or voluntary organisations.

Care and nursing homes in the UK are regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). They inspect care homes and care services to ensure safe, caring, effective, responsive and well-led.

There are four ratings awarded: outstanding, good, requires improvement, and inadequate. You can view the latest CQC ratings and reports on our site when choosing a suitable care home.

The first thing you should do if you think you need to move into a care home is to speak to your local council about having an adult social care assessment. 

Types of residential homes

Care homes (personal care only)

A care home offers support with things like washing, dressing and moving around. Care homes are also referred to as residential homes.

Staff in care homes will be trained to help you get in and out of bed, provide assistance with eating and get ready for your day.

Nursing homes

A nursing home offers personal care similar to a care home but with qualified nurses on duty 24-hours a day.

As a result, nursing homes have care staff who help with moving and washing and nursing staff capable of administering medicines and providing medical care in the care home at any time of day or night.

If you are assessed as needing the level of care a nursing home provides, you might get a contribution towards your fees paid by the NHS. This contribution is to help cover the cost of nursing care and is called Funded Nursing Care (FNC) or Registered Nursing Care Contribution (RNCC).

The amount of FNC is set at a standard rate, which changes every April. For the current amount, view the NHS Choices website or contact your local council.

Life in a care home

Residential care homes put on a variety of activities often centred around the things their residents enjoy.
Many homes now offer facilities like hairdressers, coffee shops and even cinemas! Routines and mealtimes tend to be flexible, with provision for activities to engage and stimulate residents.

Care home activities include things like:

  • animal therapy
  • artistic pursuits and crafts
  • exercise classes
  • themed evenings
  • gardening
  • trips out

Choosing a care home

Choosing a care home isn’t something we have to do every day, which means the process can sometimes be quite stressful. With this in mind, we have created our search for care tool so that you can identify homes quickly and easily.
When choosing a care home start by thinking about:

  • What’s important to the person moving in – are there activities available? Are pets accepted?
  • The care needs of the person moving in – can the home meet their specific care needs?
  • Location – is it easy to reach? Is it near family?

When you have a list of requirements, create a care home shortlist using our search tool. After this, read the inspection reports. (CQC ratings are linked-to in our search results). Of course, you can always visit the homes to get a feel for them first hand.

Take our Care Home Checklist when you visit.

Questions about care homes

Can I choose a care home outside of my home county?


Who pays the fees for my care home?

Who pays your fees depends on whether your council has assessed you as needing care in a care home. 
If you have, and the council is currently contributing financially to this support, they should continue to pay towards the cost of your care home, even if it’s in another county.

The home you choose must be suitable for your assessed needs and comply with the terms and conditions set by the authority. The fees that your local authority may pay could vary.
If you live in a care home, but the council isn’t contributing to the cost of your care, you are likely to have to pay the cost of wherever you move to.

You should seek further advice before making your decision and speak with your local authority about this. If you pay for your care and support, you can choose any care home that meets your needs and can accommodate you.

For more information on care home fees and how to pay, see our article on Paying for Care.

You can view a list of care homes by clicking here. Additionally, results can be filtered by the type of care required and location.

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