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What’s the Difference Between Care Homes and Nursing Homes?

November 16th, 2023

When starting to consider long-term care options for yourself or a loved one, you might question the difference between a care home and a nursing home. The two are often used interchangeably, but there are some key differences that will affect the option you choose.  Deciding whether to choose a nursing home or care home will come down to several factors, including cost, level of care and staff training. 

Understanding the difference between residential and nursing care will help you to make an informed decision, and will aid in the process of narrowing down the nursing home or care home facilities near to you. This guide will explain the differences and provide gentle guidance on which care provision may be the most suitable for you or your family member.

What Is A Care Home?

someone making a cup of tea in a care home

A care home is the more commonly used term to describe a residential care home. There is no difference between care home and residential care home provisions. A residential care home is a place where seniors move to when they require extra assistance with daily living needs. When living independently or managing personal care becomes more difficult, elderly people can choose to move into a care home where their needs will be met and they will be supported by on-site staff. The extent to which residents can live independently is a key difference between residential and nursing care, as those requiring nursing care are more likely to need assistance.

Residential care still allows residents a good deal of independence and so is an ideal choice for those who need a little more assistance than a home carer would offer, but still want to do things for themselves and be active and social. A care home environment is organised to encourage residents to move around freely, join in with planned activities and get outside to enjoy things such as gardening or gentle exercise.

Some of the things to expect in a care home include:

Homely Interiors

Care homes are designed to recreate a homely and comfortable space similar to the households residents are used to. In this respect, there is no difference between a nursing home and a care home. New Care home interiors also feature signage and subtle zoned areas to encourage a natural flow throughout. There are private bedrooms with en-suite facilities too, to make it a relaxing and private place for residents.

On-Site Support 

Depending on the individual needs of residents, care homes have on-site support for tasks like dressing, bathing and eating. It’s a more basic level of care that, when choosing a care home or nursing home, allows seniors to also look after themselves as much as they are able to, or want to.

Social Spaces

Care homes plan activities and events for residents, and have thriving communal areas where people can spend time together. This aspect of a care home is very important, and can help seniors to stay young at heart. With a care home vs nursing home, a care home gives residents more autonomy over the activities they take part in, as those who live in a nursing home may be slightly less able to join in certain things and might require more help to do so.

Medical Care 

Staff in a care home will help residents with medication, administering the correct dosages at the correct times each day. There may also be some medical professionals on site, but specialised medical care is more limited, and this can be a clear point of difference between care home and nursing home services.

What Is A Nursing Home?

carer holding hands with elderly person in a nursing home or care home

A nursing home is a place where residents require more supervision and tailored care. A nursing home is able to provide a higher level of medical attention and is a middle ground between hospital care and the independence of living that’s possible in a care home. Nursing homes usually have a team of healthcare professionals on hand. This can include nurses, doctors and therapists, as well as highly trained and skilled care home staff to tend to daily needs.

The level of care required is often the starting point for deciding whether to move a loved one into a care home or nursing home. Other reasons to opt for a nursing home are:

Round The Clock Care 

Caring for an elderly relative can be a 24/7 responsibility. A nursing home takes on this role, offering monitoring and supervision day and night from dedicated care staff.


By its very nature, a nursing home means that there are nursing staff available to manage medical procedures, such as wound care, medication management and IV therapy. A care plan will detail the exact care needed by each resident, so that nursing staff can ensure they get the medical care they need. There is no difference between care home and residential home care planning, as care plans are used in both settings.


A notable difference between nursing and residential care is that nursing homes have medical equipment and supplies that help to make residents’ lives more comfortable. Equipment like oxygen masks, mobility aids and specialised beds are usually readily available in a nursing home. 

Staff Ratio 

To allow for the more specific and attentive care needed, there are more staff needed in a nursing home. A nursing home or care home will always have an adequate staff to resident ratio, but as those in a care home generally need less help, staff levels needn’t be as abundant.

The Difference Between Care Homes and Nursing Homes

image of a stethoscope in a care home or nursing home

As we’ve established with a care home vs nursing home, the difference primarily boils down to the level of care. A nursing home is better suited to those who need round-the-clock care and medical supervision, while a care home is often chosen by those who still want an independent way of living with some help for trickier tasks. This means that the level of staff training is also a difference between care home and nursing home provisions. All staff in both types of home will have received in-depth training for their role. However, with a nursing home, the staff will have had medical training to be able to deliver the medical care required. 

In light of this, the other main difference between a care home and a nursing home is the cost. A nursing home can have additional costs due to the medical equipment, the number of staff and their qualifications. Any nursing home or care home will be able to tell you the costs so that you can factor this into your decision when choosing a specific nursing home or care home. 

Many care homes are dual-registered, meaning they offer both residential care and nursing care. This can be particularly beneficial for couples who want to move into the same home but have different care needs. One partner may only require residential care, while the other needs nursing care, but in a dual-registered home they can still live in the same place.

Cost Of Care Home Vs Nursing Home

Typically, the fee you pay for a care home or nursing home will include accommodation, meals, utilities and personal care, for example washing and dressing. Most activities will be covered as well, although there may be an extra charge for excursions. The difference between residential and nursing care costs is in the extra medical care provided in a nursing home. This means the cost of a nursing home will be higher than that of a residential care home. 

Residential & Nursing Care From New Care Homes

New Care homes has multiple locations across the UK offering both residential care and nursing care to seniors. We offer a high standard of care whether you’re looking for a nursing home or care home, and all of our homes feature luxurious interiors and a host of other features, such as fine dining, hair salons and stunning outdoor spaces.

We’d love to show you around a care home near you in Manchester, Cheshire, Nottingham or Leeds, and explain more about the residential and nursing care we offer. Please contact us to arrange a visit.