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Understanding the Different Types of Residential Care


Are you familiar with the different types of residential care available? With so many residential care options, it can be tricky to understand the key differences. In this guide, we discuss the two main types of care homes, as well as various other residential care options available; allowing you to make an informed decision when looking for your next caregiving role.

Residential Care Homes

Residential care homes are the most typical type of care facility in the UK. They offer short or long-term care solutions for vulnerable people who struggle to live independently but don’t require aid from specialist nurses. They are suitable for elderly and younger people who may have physical, learning or mental health difficulties. 

Residential care homes provide accommodation, meals and personal care for residents, offering a safe and caring environment in which vulnerable people can live as part of the community. Residents have their own room or studio, whilst sharing some communal areas. Care homes can vary in size, with some larger centres housing up to 250 residents.

An expert team is on hand 24 hours per day to provide assistance with daily living. Depending on individual needs, staff can help with daily activities such as bathing, dressing and eating. Meals are served at regular intervals, with an exciting range of social events and activities on offer.

Nursing Homes

Nursing homes offer the same facilities as residential care homes, with the addition of a registered nurse available on site 24/7. They are the ideal solution for residents with advanced care needs who may require regular medical assistance. Nursing homes also offer support with daily tasks such as eating, bathing, or housekeeping.

Stays in nursing homes can be short or long-term. They are designed for vulnerable people who cannot be cared for at home, but do not need hospitalisation. Residents may be transferred to a nursing home if their medical needs become too complex for residential care homes, or if continuous care is required after discharge from hospital. For example, an individual who has recently suffered a stroke may be more suited to a nursing home.

Dementia Care Homes

People with dementia may need a specialised care home for better care and support with their condition. Dementia care homes provide a safe and secure environment, allowing vulnerable people to live independently with access to specialist care. Caregivers focus on offering mental stimulation and structured routines, fostering a sense of familiarity and avoiding confusion.


Hospices provide end-of-life care for individuals who are dying or suffering from terminal illnesses including cancer, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s or cardiovascular diseases. Staff focus on providing care, comfort and compassion to patients and their families during this traumatic time.

Hospice care can be administered in a wide range of settings such as nursing homes, hospice buildings, hospitals or within the home. A range of emotional and practical support may be offered, including counselling, physical treatments, pain relief and palliative care.

Respite Care

Respite care, also known as short stay, is a temporary living arrangement at a nursing or residential care home. This can be for a one-off period or more frequent stays. Residents can try out living in a care home, allowing their loved ones to decide whether a care home is the right option for them.

Respite care homes feature the same facilities as other care homes, fostering a supportive and nurturing environment with access to any care required. They are ideal for individuals who are recovering from illness or injury and require a short period of specialist support. If a primary caregiver needs a break from their responsibilities, their family member may benefit from a short period of respite care.

Adult Day Care Centres

Some types of residential care homes may offer daycare as one of their services, providing a safe space for elderly people who still live at home to come and visit during the day for company and enrichment. 

Encouraging socialisation and offering access to activities can make a profound difference to the quality of life for elderly people, people with mental or physical disabilities, and vulnerable adults in the community. 

Adult day care may prove useful for vulnerable people who are considering moving into a care home, offering caregivers a much-needed break from their care commitments.

Extra Care Housing

Commonly known as sheltered housing, assisted living or supported living, extra care housing allows individuals to reside in self-contained accommodation with support still at hand. Accommodation types can range from a simple room in a shared house to a large, private flat. Communal areas are often available for individuals to meet and socialise with one another.

Individuals are given more independence than living in a residential care home could ever offer. A good level of access and mobility is usually provided for vulnerable people, with personal care also available including assistance with washing, cleaning, cooking and medication. Many extra care housing schemes have a manager living on site, as well as access to 24-hour emergency help via an alarm.

Get in Touch

We hope this blog has helped further your understanding of the different types of residential care homes available. If you would like further guidance on job opportunities available within residential care, please get in touch with one of our advisers today – they would be happy to help.

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