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If you’re trying to figure out the best senior living situation for yourself or an elderly loved one, two options you’ll likely consider are residential vs nursing home. Both provide assistance with daily activities for older adults, but there are some important differences you’ll want to understand before deciding which route is best. This guide from the caring folks at Serene Care will break down the key distinctions so you can make the most informed choice.

What Exactly is a Nursing Home?

A nursing home, sometimes referred to as a skilled nursing facility, offers 24-hour supervised care from licensed nurses and is equipped to provide a higher level of medical care, similar to what you would receive in a hospital. Nursing homes are ideal for those who need ongoing, intensive medical attention and help with most basic daily tasks.

Nursing homes have caring staff available around the clock to provide assistance with things like:

  • Administering medications and other treatments
  • Helping with mobility, including transfers in and out of bed
  • Bathing, grooming, hygiene, and using the toilet
  • Getting dressed and ready each day
  • Eating meals and assisting with feeding if needed

In addition to constant medical care, nursing homes also provide amenities like:

  • Private and shared rooms to live in
  • Communal dining rooms for meals
  • Activity programs to keep residents engaged
  • Transportation to and from medical appointments
  • On-site rehabilitation services such as physical or occupational therapy

To qualify for nursing home care, individuals typically need help with 4-5 “activities of daily living” such as bathing, getting dressed, eating, moving around, and using the bathroom. Nursing homes have registered nurses supervising care and adhere to strict regulations from governmental health agencies.

What’s the Deal With Residential Care Homes?

Residential care homes, also known as assisted living facilities, provide senior housing along with care, meals, supervision, and assistance with daily tasks. They’re designed for older folks who want or need some extra help but do not require round-the-clock medical attention.

Some of the services offered in residential care homes include:

  • Providing meals and snacks throughout the day
  • Gently reminding residents to take medications and helping them manage prescriptions
  • Assisting with bathing, dressing, grooming, and using the toilet
  • Helping residents move around and providing transportation
  • Monitoring safety and responding to emergencies
  • Organizing social activities, entertainment, and recreational outings
  • Doing housekeeping, laundry, and keeping things tidy

While nurses are on-call if health concerns come up, care is usually provided by home health aides, personal care assistants, medication technicians, and other trained but non-medical staff. Most residents need help with 2-3 daily activities.

Residential facilities offer private rooms or shared suites, common living areas, dining halls, courtyards, salons, fitness centers, and other home-like amenities. The setting is designed to be comfy instead of clinical.

When should you choose a residential care home?

Knowing when to transition to a residential care home is never easy, but it may be the right time if your elderly loved one needs more help than home care can provide. Though residential facilities aren’t medical in nature, they offer support with daily activities that become difficult with age-related issues like reduced mobility and frailty. This level of assistance and community can provide a better quality of life than struggling alone at home. Look for a residential home like Serene Care that will meet both your loved one’s health needs and their social and emotional needs. Seek a nurturing environment where they can receive compassionate care, while still enjoying visits with family and friends. With the right residential facility, you can have peace of mind knowing your loved one is comfortable and cared for.

Key Differences to Consider Between Nursing Homes and Residential Care

While nursing homes and residential facilities both meet senior living needs, there are some notable differences:

  • Medical Involvement – Nursing homes serve those with intensive health issues requiring hands-on care from nursing staff. Residential facilities help with non-medical daily assistance.
  • Staffing – Nursing homes have registered nurses supervising 24/7. Residential homes have some nursing but more non-medical caregivers.
  • Regulations – Nursing homes must follow strict federal guidelines. Residential care rules differ more by state.
  • Cost – Nursing home care is more expensive, averaging £3,500 monthly. Residential care is £3,000 on average.
  • Environment – Nursing homes feel clinical with hospital beds and shared rooms. Residential homes emphasize privacy and homey features.
  • Activities – Nursing homes focus on medical care while residential facilities have robust calendars of social events.
  • Rehabilitation – Nursing homes offer occupational, physical, and speech therapy on-site. Residential homes provide some rehab but residents may travel off-site.
  • Length of Stay – Nursing homes serve long-term needs. Residential facilities can adapt if health situations change.

Regulations for service providers and managers

When evaluating residential care homes, an important factor to consider is whether the facility is registered with and regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The CQC is the independent regulator of health and social care in England that inspects and rates care providers based on standards of safety and quality. They provide inspection reports to help consumers make informed choices about care services. Only facilities that register with the CQC and meet their standards are legally allowed to operate. So be sure to choose a residential home like Serene Care that is registered with and regularly inspected by the CQC. This helps ensure the environment and level of care meets quality benchmarks and legal requirements.

What are the costs for home care?

Navigating the financial implications of choosing between a care home and a nursing home can often seem like a daunting task. Unfortunately, nursing homes tend to be considerably expensive, with the average cost surpassing £3,000 per month. For those who meet specific financial criteria, NHS Continuing Healthcare may partially cover these costs. Additionally, private insurance policies may offer coverage for short periods of skilled nursing care following a hospital stay, albeit with some restrictions. More often than not, long-term stays in nursing homes necessitate arrangements for private payments or the utilisation of a long-term care insurance policy.

In contrast, residential care homes, which generally offer fewer medical services, might present a more affordable option. However, it is vital to meticulously evaluate the potential costs and the services provided to ensure it meets your needs or those of your loved ones.

Determining the right senior living option hinges heavily on individual health requirements and lifestyle preferences. As you contemplate this significant decision, consider your medical care necessities, the level of independence you aspire to retain, the amenities that are important to you, and your budget. By taking these factors into account, you can make a judicious choice that aligns with your personal needs and circumstances.

If you or your aging loved one requires some daily living assistance but not round-the-clock intensive medical care, a residential facility like Serene Care is often an excellent option.

To better understand how a care home can support the needs of those requiring care and to enquire about a care home within Serene Care contact us today.

What's the difference between nursing homes and residential care homes?

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