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Explaining the difference between a care home and a nursing home

Many people do not realise the differences between care homes and care homes with nursing, as nursing homes are now called.

Both types of home provide accommodation, supervision from staff 24 hours a day, meals and help with personal care needs, but nursing homes also have registered nurses on duty at all times.

This means that they can provide care for people with more complex needs and those who need regular nursing interventions.

Care Homes

Care homes are staffed 24 hours a day and a proportion of the staff will be qualified care assistants with NVQs (National Vocational Qualifications) at Level 2 or 3.

Care home managers are required to have a Registered Manager’s Award or similar management qualification as well as experience in care, but do not need any nursing experience.

The kind of assistance with personal care that can be provided in all care homes includes help with washing, dressing, toileting and mobility.

Members of staff in care homes often also help residents with eating and drinking, communicating and joining in social activities. They have to keep records of the residents and devise and follow an individual care plan for each resident.

If nursing interventions such as the administration of medicines by injection or complex dressings are needed, the district nurses are usually called in to carry out these tasks.

This can be somewhat disruptive, as the district nurses have lots of visits to carry out and are unable to specify what time they are likely to arrive.

If their visit coincides with a mealtime, it may not be convenient for them to wait until the resident has finished eating.

Care Home Resident with staff

Nursing Homes

A nursing home will provide all the day-to-day care that you would expect from any care home, but the care is supervised by registered nurses who are on duty all day and all night.

People who have an illness or medical condition requiring frequent medical attention will be better off in a nursing home, where nursing care is available 24 hours a day and planned interventions can be carried out at convenient times.

Another benefit is that nursing staff are trained to recognise symptoms and changes in a person’s condition, so are better qualified to decide when to call a doctor or other health professional.

Nursing homes are often better equipped with specialist beds and a range of equipment for moving and handling people, and are usually the best choice for those who have severe mobility difficulties or who are unable to get out of bed.

Some nursing homes provide specialist care and support for people who have been diagnosed with dementia and whose needs cannot be met in a simple care home. These homes may have specially trained care staff as well as RMNs on duty.

The physical surroundings are also very important for people with dementia, and include things such as signs to help them to find their way around and a calming decor to help them to settle more easily.

All care homes have to specify exactly what level of care they can provide and demonstrate how they can meet each resident’s needs. When choosing a home, it is important to consider not only current care needs, but also how much help is likely to be needed in the future.

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