It’s normal to feel overwhelmed by the thought of residential care. Whether it’s for yourself or someone you know, you’ll want to make an informed decision about whether residential care is right for you.
This guide explains what a residential care home is, how it differs from a nursing home, the kind of support residential care homes offer, how to choose and pay for a care home, and preparing yourself or a loved one for moving into residential care.
What is residential care?
A residential care home provides accommodation with round-the-clock personal care for elderly people who struggle to live independently.
Residential homes employ specially trained staff who look after residents. Care assistants help with personal hygiene, administer medication, and provide general personal care and support.
Sometimes trained specialist nurses will be on-site to support residents who require specialist medical care or those with severe physical disabilities.
Often residential care homes and nursing homes enhance residents’ lives by providing a safe, welcoming and homely residential setting with care services that see to their medical and social needs. Many families find that the stress of health care is reduced when they know an elderly relative is cared for 24 hours a day.
There are 4 types of residential care homes in the UK:
- Care homes
- Care homes with nursing
- Care homes with dementia care
- Dual-registered care homes
What care services are provided in a residential care home?
Different types of residential care home provide different levels of care.
- Residential Care homes employ staff who help residents with washing, dressing, eating, taking medication, and going to the toilet. Many also might offer social activities and day trips
- Residential Care homes with nursing are referred to as ‘nursing homes’. These provide 24-hour assistance from qualified nurses in addition to staff that helps with personal care
- Residential Care homes with dementia care are specifically set up to care for the unique needs of people with dementia. Qualified nurses with dementia training are often present to provide enhanced care.
- Dual-registered care homes provide personal care and nursing care. This means that if residents require extra care as their needs increase over time, they won’t need to move to a different home
When to consider residential care
The right time to consider a residential care home for you or someone you know varies depending on your personal circumstances. Mixed emotions of relief and guilt can make it harder to reach a decision. That’s why it’s so important to consider all your options before choosing a residential care home.
Asking the following questions might help you decide if residential care is the right choice.
- Do you, or someone you know, struggle to live alone – even with the help of friends, family, or paid carers?
- Did a needs assessment suggest that a care home is the best choice for you or someone you know?
- Do you, or someone you know, have a complex medical condition or physical disability that needs 24-hour specialist care and support? Is that person at increased risk by remaining at home?
- Do you feel stressed and anxious managing your own (or someone else’s) health and well-being?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above then it might be time to consider a residential care home.
What are the alternatives to care homes?
Alternatives to care homes can be cheaper and allow you to remain independent. Many people prefer to stay in their own homes. However, you might be worried about needing extra help after an accident, operation, or existing health condition.
There are several alternative options to care homes.
Adapting your home
- Adding aids such as stairlifts, hand rails and extra security can make life easier at home
- Adding a raised toilet seat or push button flush to your bathroom. Fitting a downstairs toilet might also be an option if you have a physical disability
- Adding slip mat in your shower or bath
- In the kitchen, knives and forks with special handles and two-handled cups can make life easier
- Reclining chairs
Hiring a carer
- A care worker can regularly visit your home to provide support
- Supported living services offer suitable accommodation with visits from trained care staff and are cheaper than care homes, but don’t provide 24-hour care
- Sheltered housing is a good option if you can live independently and only need occasional support
- Extra housing care or ‘assisted living’ offers more support than sheltered housing with on-site meals and personal care
- Close care housing is often a flat or bungalow nearby a care home. Care home staff can provide some personal care and there’s the option to move into the care home further down the line
- Retirement villages are developments specifically suited to older people, and are often designed with communal facillities
- Homesharing could be an option if you want to retain your independence but need help with laundry, cooking meals, or getting shopping. A homeshare scheme will connect you with a suitable person who is happy to help around the house. Typically, a home sharer doesn’t pay rent but will contribute to household bills
Ultimately, whether staying in your own home or moving into care is your decision. Weigh up every option and ask for advice if you need it to help you choose the option that suits your needs.
When a residential care home is the right choice
The prospect of moving yourself or someone you know into care is a daunting step. Care homes are expensive, but they provide a full range of services and support and also improve residents’ quality of life.
In addition to personal care and support 24 hours a day, care homes offer social interaction and can improve your mental health. It can be a relief to receive support or know that a care plan is in place for someone you love in their old age.
Paying for residential care – how much do care homes cost?
Care home costs depend on your location and needs. Nursing home costs are more than residential care homes because a registered nurse is always available.
Hope park’s full fees are £1,065 per week from April 2023, but you would receive support from your local authority towards these costs. The level of this support is based on the individual’s personal financial circumstances.
Many worry about the cost of care homes. Luckily financial help is available.
How to pay for residential care support
The first step is to contact your local authority for a needs assessment.
Following a needs assessment, the council will advise which of the following options best suit your needs.
Funding from the council
If you would struggle to self-fund the cost of a residential care home, you should ask your local authority for a needs assessment. You can do this by phone or online.
If the assessment finds that the best option for you is to move into a care home, a means test will determine whether you qualify for financial help. Your family’s finances will not be taken into account.
You might be eligible for NHS funding if your reason for choosing a care home is health-based. In this instance, the NHS will fund your care under NHS continuing care (NHS CHC).
Self-funding your care and support
It’s also worth mentioning that you can pay for care yourself if you can afford it and chose to do so. This means you don’t need to undertake a financial assessment with the local authority.
Read more about how to pay for care as a self-funder.
How does funding for nursing and care homes work?
The means test takes your income and savings into account. It may also take the value of your property into consideration. Disability benefits are not included in the means test.
Here’s how your capital (savings) will be taken into account:
- Savings over £23,250 – you must pay fully for your care, less free personal care (in Scotland)
- Savings between £14,250 – £23,250 – you will contribute to your care from income and capital included in the means test and your local council will pay the remaining cost.
- Savings of less than £14,250 – you no longer pay based on your capital but must pay a contribution calculated from income included in the means test. Your local council will pay the remaining cost
Choosing the right care home
Choosing the right care home will depend on your needs, but it should feel like a safe, comfortable, and happy place to live.
Here’s a helpful checklist to assess whether a care home is right for you:
- Does it provide the level of care you need now and in the future?
- Are the staff friendly, attentive, interested, and welcoming?
- Are the staff trained in caring for residents with dementia?
- Does the care home look clean and smell fresh?
- Do the residents seem happy?
- Are the rooms a comfortable temperature? Are they tidy and pleasingly decorated?
- Can the care home meet your dietary needs? Will you take your meals with other residents or in your room? Can you see or sample the menu?
- If time outdoors is important to you, does it provide adequately maintained gardens?
- Is the care home easily accessible for friends and family members?
- How often can visitors stay? Are there any visitor restrictions? Can visitors stay overnight?
- Are shops, places of worship, parks, and other facilities you use regularly within easy access?
- Is there wheelchair access?
- Does the care home provide regular activities and outings if that’s important to you?
Residential care homes near me
Finding a suitable care home can feel overwhelming. Start by making a list of reputable care homes in your local area. Ask friends and family for recommendations.
When you’re ready to start looking it can help to bring someone with you.
Carehome.co.uk has a search tool you can use to find your ideal care home.
How do I prepare to move into a care home?
Once you’re ready to move into a care home, there are several things you can do to feel more settled. The Care home can also offer advice on ways to make you feel settled.
Personalise your space
Adding personal touches to your new space will help you feel at home. Photographs, soft furnishings, your favourite music, and your own bed can help you feel more comfortable and settled.
Give it time
Adjusting to a new routine takes time. You also need to allow yourself time to get to know the care home staff and residents. Let the staff know your usual habits e.g. if you prefer to eat alone. Keeping some of your old routine might help you to adjust.
Keep in touch
Stay in touch with your friends and relatives. Encourage them to visit or come to social gatherings at the care home
About Hope Park House
At Hope Park House we provide a holistic approach to care in a home-from-home environment. Our bespoke, round-the-clock professional care, caters to resident’s individual needs and ensures social inclusion and quality of life.
We are a non-profit organisation run by a charitable trust, specialising in the provision of residential care for elderly people and people living with dementia.
We understand and respect the dignity of our residents and our friendly and qualified staff work tirelessly to promote their independence, striving to ensure they all enjoy the highest quality of life.
Our residential care home is situated in stunning grounds on the outskirts of the charming and historic town of Blairgowrie, in Perthshire.
We have 32 individual rooms overlooking the gardens, and can accommodate couples who wish to stay together, space permitting. Residents can bring personal items to furnish their room and help them feel at home.
Hope Park House is well-equipped and offers spacious communal areas for service users and visitors, including safe access to the beautiful, landscaped grounds with two enclosed gardens packed with sensory plants and equipment, as well as the opportunity to pick soft fruit, apples and plums in season.
All our meals are home-cooked using fresh ingredients and special diets are catered for.
We have a high staff-to-resident ratio which ensures the emotional, social, and physical well-being of each resident. Residents also benefit from daily activities and services provided by the team at Hope Park as well as local healthcare professionals and service providers.
Some of the activities on offer include walking, gardening, arts, crafts, musical entertainment, quizzes, board games, baking, hairdressing and beauty therapy, and gentle physical exercise. We also offer regular outings to local events and places of interest.
The first step
If you’ve decided that residential care is right for you, the first step is contact your local council for a needs assessment.
If you’re interested in learning more about Hope Park House please contact us. A member of our team will be happy to discuss your needs in detail.