Care Homes Guide - Articles

Levels of Care and Care Options Explained

In a nutshell, care homes offer basic assistance with personal care, without the provision of in-house nursing, whereas care homes with nursing, which include the previous category of dual-registered homes, offer both personal and 24-hour nursing care.

More specifically, one can expect the following different levels of care from care homes and care homes with nursing:

Care Homes: Standard Care Provision

It is estimated that no more than ten percent of elderly people residing in homes actually require nursing care. The vast majority are able to maintain their independence within the safe and supportive environment of a care home. Most residents in care homes are reasonably mobile and can manage their basic personal care themselves. However, assistance is readily available with tasks such as dressing, washing and going to the toilet, if required. Limited nursing care is provided by a local District Nurse.

The main emphasis of care provision in care homes is on creating a homely environment with good social interaction and regular, stimulating activities being organised, often involving the local community. Meals are provided and residents are encouraged to socialise in communal rooms.

Care Homes with Nursing: Standard Care Provision

Care homes that also provide nursing care are often purpose-built to accommodate the necessary nursing facilities required for the care of high-dependency elderly persons, within a homely environment. Short-term care for elderly patients recovering from surgery or a hospital stay is also provided.

Most care homes with nursing offer rehabilitation services as standard, with nurses, therapists and social workers on hand to ensure that each resident receives the individual care they need.

Persons with chronic medical conditions or illnesses that require a high level of on-going attention from a doctor or nurse are better suited to a care home environment that provides nursing. Residents who are bedridden or extremely frail would also benefit from the level of care offered by care homes with nursing, as these types of homes have a qualified nurse on duty around the clock. In addition these homes provide a flexible care package which combines both elements of personal and nursing care, enabling individuals to 'pick-n-mix' the type of care required at any given time.

Levels of care one can expect from a registered care home with nursing (formerly categorised as dual-registered) include 24-hour medical care, as appropriate, as well as assistance with all aspects of personal care.

If you are looking for a care home with nursing for a person with a specific illness such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, or maybe for someone who has been incapacitated by a stroke, your best approach is to contact the relevant society or association, first. These specialist groups can offer individual advice tailored to the needs of the prospective care home resident.

Ultimately when deciding on the appropriate level of care for prospective residents, it is important to match the individual's care needs with the care facilities provided by the care home of your choice. Bear in mind that independent elderly people who require minimal levels of care may quickly become dispirited if constantly surrounded by more needy individuals who require high-level nursing care; and worse, they may end up paying over the odds for care facilities they rarely use. Equally, more infirm residents who really need 24-hour nursing care may suffer unduly in a non-nursing care environment.

It is vital, therefore, that anyone who is about to enter a care home undergoes a thorough care needs assessment, beforehand, to establish their specific care needs, both personal and medical. Misjudging the level of care required can have devastating effects, not only on the individual concerned and their immediate circle, but also on the happy family atmosphere that is typical of most well-run care homes.