A range of types of care services are available for elderly people, depending on their needs:

  • Residential care home
  • Nursing care home
  • Domiciliary care (care at home)
  • Live-in care
  • Respite care
  • Other care options

What is a residential care home?

A residential home is a safe place where 24 hour care and support is provided.

A residential care home only has care staff, so it is appropriate for people who need assistance with their daily activities such as washing, dressing and meal preparation. It is not suitable for someone who has an ongoing nursing/medical requirement. 

Benefits include:

  • The care is tailored around care needs
  • Residents are encouraged and supported to be independent
  • Social activities are provided but not compulsory, and being with other residents means more social interaction
  • Families can be reassured by knowing where their loved one is at all times and that they are being looked after
  • Specialised dementia care is offered by some residential care homes

What is a nursing home?

A nursing home is very like a residential care home, but the main difference is there are always trained nurses on duty. This means they are more suitable for people who have a medical condition and need treatment, or have been told they have nursing needs.

Benefits include:

  • Nurses and carers are trained to monitor symptoms and provide 24 hour support 
  • An individual healthcare plan will be designed for each resident
  • Specialised care is provided for conditions and life events including: Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Dementia, postoperative care and strokes
  • Social activities will be provided to an appropriate level

There are also dual-registered care homes which cater for both residential and nursing clients within the one care home. This can be beneficial as someone may not have nursing needs at the moment but may do in the future.

What is domiciliary care, or care at home?

Help and support with daily tasks such as shopping or cooking, getting up and dressed, or companionship can often be provided in the person’s home by a carer from an agency (known as domiciliary care, care at home or hourly care). These can be provided for a set period of time or even a few times throughout the day (commonly as a ‘visit’). 

Domiciliary care can be appropriate if help is required with practical tasks or personal care without a move to a care home. This type of care can also help people with Dementia to stay in their own home.

Domiciliary care agencies can help with a range of daily tasks, including:

  • cooking
  • cleaning and laundry
  • bathing and personal care
  • dressing
  • helping with medication
  • a carer can also help to look after pets

Benefits include:

  • Care can be tailored and flexible to meet individual needs
  • Allows people to remain living within their own home and community
  • Can be a more affordable care option, depending on the amount of time required

Because many people prefer to stay in their own home if possible rather than living in a care home, domiciliary care is a popular care option in the UK.  

A care support worker can also be employed directly, rather than through an agency. This is more commonly called a personal assistant.

Domiciliary Care Services

There are several types of domiciliary care available:

Companionship care

Care can start as informally as someone popping in for a cup of tea and a chat – there is no task too small. This is called companionship care, and typically involves a social visit, help with shopping, and sometimes cooking and light cleaning.

Housing support

For this type of care, a carer will visit a few times a week to help with opening mail, paying bills, and generally anything that helps maintain the home. This is an especially useful care option for people with mental health conditions or learning disabilities.  

Domiciliary care with two carers

If support is needed getting in and out of bed or walking, many care agencies offer domiciliary care with two carers.

Multiple care visits per day

Many care agencies will offer care with multiple visits per day – for example, a visit to the home in the morning, midday, and before bed.  

Night care

Night time care is when a carer stays in the home to provide any assistance that may be required during the night, either being awake throughout the night, or sleeping but will wake if needed.

Nursing domiciliary care

If support is needed with things like injections, changing or applying dressings, assisting with oxygen or other nursing help, some care agencies can offer specialty nursing care support. 

What is live-in care?

Live in care is when a trained carer lives in the home of the person needing care. This is a good solution for someone who typically sleeps well through the night, as the carer will also be asleep.

A live in carer will need to have a separate bedroom within the home and most agencies require a daily break of at least two consecutive hours, so extra care cover may be needed for this time. 

Benefits include:

  • Helping with a variety of tasks around the home such as cleaning, cooking, laundry and grocery shopping
  • Reduced loneliness as there is always someone there for companionship and outings.
  • For a couple it can be significantly cheaper than two beds or double room within a care home
  • The care can be provided as needed and without rushing as there is no time limit

More information on live in care

What is respite care?

Respite care (which is also known as ‘short stay’ care) provides an unpaid carer with some time away from their caring responsibilities. Sometimes respite care is also a period of rehabilitation after a hospital admission or operation.  

There are four types of respite care:

  1. Care home 
  2. Domiciliary care
  3. Day centres
  4. Respite holidays/hotels

Benefits include:

  • Giving carers a much needed break from the day-to-day responsibilities of caring
  • Allows the opportunity to plan ahead for holidays or events
  • Is an opportunity to introduce and trial alternative care services that may be needed in the future

What other care options are available?

Intermediate care

Intermediate care is an umbrella term for a few different types of free temporary care that can be put in place by the NHS or social services. It is usually no more than 6 weeks. 

Reablement is the most common type, put in place by the NHS after a hospital discharge. It is to support the person to live as independently as possible. The carers will help with activities of daily life such as personal care and meal preparation.

Sheltered accommodation

Sheltered accommodation is housing specifically designed for older people to allow them to live independently. It usually consists of self-contained flats with communal facilities. In most cases it’s available to people aged over 60, although some schemes may be open to those over 55 years old. It’s sometimes called ‘retirement housing’. 

Sheltered accommodation can be bought or rented, either by individuals or couples. Residents can pay for sheltered housing privately (out of their own funds) or, if they meet certain eligibility criteria they can apply to be allocated sheltered accommodation by their local council or housing association.

Supported living

Supported living can be group of flats or a home where three or four people live together, with support staff on site to help with daily living activities.

Supported living can be a useful solution to someone who does not want to move into a residential care home but is struggling to manage at home. Supported living services can be provided by the local council or charities, or they may be run by commercial companies. Social services will let you know about local supported living services after an assessment, if it seems it might be needed.

Retirement villages

Retirement villages are private developments with a range of different housing types that promote independent living for older people.

Most don’t provide care services but a separate care agency can be used to provide any support required if needed. Retirement villages have activities and communal areas which help provide social opportunities for the residents.

Are you looking for care?

Care packages can start very small – it can be as simple as coming around and having a cup of tea and a chat, helping with the shopping, or helping to tidy up.  

Care Sourcer helps you find all types of care services, using a searchable online directory of local care agencies

If you need care urgently, our team of care experts are also available by telephone on freephone 0800 048 8618 to guide you through the process.