Information for Families: Types of Care

There are many different types of care available to you, probably more than you realise. All have their positives and negatives. We recognise this is a major decision for you so we have tried to describe each type of care below and give a flavour of who it would best be suited to. The types of service available are developing and we will modify this information periodically to reflect these changes.

Home Care / Support at Home

Home Care, otherwise called Domiciliary Care or Home Based Care, is care provided to you in your own home, enabling you to remain as independent as possible in an environment you know and love.

Domiciliary care is usually provided in chunks of time to help with a specific activity, such as getting up and dressed, assistance with bathing, preparing a meal, be a companion, accompany you to the shops or on outings or someone to pop out for a bit of shopping for you. It can include a 'live in carer' that stays with you 24 hours a day.

Domiciliary Care Agencies employ care or support workers and nurses, and are regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). All employees have to undergo a suitability check (Disclosure and Barring Service) and have to achieve a minimum level of training, but many are trained to a much higher level.

You can purchase as much or as little care as you require, and you can adjust the level of care you receive as your needs change.

Housing with Care

Sometimes called Extra Care housing, Assisted Care or Supported Living, allows you to retain your independence by having your own front door, while knowing care is on hand if you need it.

It is a stepping stone between being a practical solution to stay in your home, and the decision to go into residential care.

Extra care housing is generally purpose built flats or bungalows, often close to or in the grounds of a care home.

Extra Care housing can be purchased, allowing you to remain a home owner, or rented on a lease basis for a period of time, or a mix of the two. They generally provide an emergency call system within your accommodation giving you piece of mind that you can contact a care worker or warden in an emergency.

Extra care housing schemes also offer 24 hour ‘personal care' services to assist with personal care needs, such as getting up and dressed, or bathing, you can purchase as much or as little of these services as you need in addition to your accommodation costs.

Many facilities also have restaurants, communal areas to socialise with others, hairdressing and laundry facilities, as well as organised activities and outings.

Supported Living

Supported Living schemes are usually for people with learning disabilities or mental health problems (but now emerging for older people as a variant of Extra Care options), allowing you to remain independent by having your own front door, but to know a support worker is available should you need them. The individual flats or accommodation within a shared house, are based within the heart of communities. Most accommodation in Supported Living schemes is leased by the tenant. It offers a viable alternative to full residential care to people with learning disabilities and mental health problems.

Supported Living schemes can offer so much more than secure comfortable accommodation and personal care services. They can offer guidance on daily living skills in order to increase independence, and can support someone into employment or education.

Care Home

A well run care home should feel like a home from home, with the benefits of companionship, outings and activities. Previously called Residential care, a care home provides 24 hour care staff to assist with personal care needs, and administer medication. All your meals are cooked for you and assistance is given to eat them if you need it.

Additional services may be provided at the care home such as hairdressing, and podiatry services. There will normally be an additional charge for these. The types of services offered differ from care home to care home.

Age UK offer the following advice & guidance:

Finding the right care home for you or your loved one can be a tricky issue. There are some key things that you need to think about before taking the next steps.

Do I actually need a care home?

What type of care home do I want?

What should I look for in a care home?

Care Home with Nursing / Nursing Home

This is very similar to a care home, but as the name suggests with the additional benefit of 24 hour qualified nursing care. This level of care is most suited to those who have health as well as personal care needs. Companionship of others is also very beneficial in this environment; meals are cooked for you and assistance given to eat them if required and special dietary needs are catered for. Medication is administered by qualified nurses, as well as dressings, oxygen therapy, nutritional support and other health needs are dealt with.

Additional services such as physiotherapy, podiatry and hairdressing may be offered at an additional charge.

Short Breaks / Respite Care / Short Term Care

Residential care is normally considered long term care, but some people just need care services for a short period of time, perhaps after a hospital stay, or whilst a carer is on holiday. This is known as respite care.

Respite care is generally offered in either a care home or care home with nursing, depending on your care needs.

In services for people with a learning disability there is a decreasing use of care homes for short breaks and a variety of alternative solutions are developing.

The same benefits apply to respite care as to long term care in a care home, such as 24 hour care workers or nurses able to assist you with your care needs, meals cooked for you and companionship of others.

Respite stays can be from just a few days, up to a number of months dependent on need.

Intermediate Care / Reablement Care

Intermediate care or Reablement care is generally provided and paid for by the NHS specifically to support someone for up to 6 weeks after a hospital stay or to avoid a hospital admission. The intention of intermediate / reablement care is to rehabilitate someone to be able to return home independently or with a level of home care support.

Intermediate / reablement care is normally offered in a care home, or care with nursing. Services offered by individual care homes vary, but may include intensive physiotherapy or occupational therapy.

Day Care

Day care may just be the level of support you need to stay in your own home that little bit longer. Day care is offered in a variety of settings to meet a wide variety of needs. Day Services may be provided by local councils in Day Centres often with transport available, some charities provide day services for specific conditions, such as The Alzheimer's Society provide day care centres to allow people with Alzheimers to socialise together and enjoy a meal cooked for them, and to give family and carers a few hours break.

Care homes or care homes with nursing sometimes provide day care services. These are generally a bit more structured than day centres and can offer additional services such as bathing and foot care, as well as socialising and enjoying a meal.

We hope that we have now provided you with the information to choose which type of care or combinations of care packages best suit your needs. Unfortunately, you now need to consider how your care is going to be funded. See our page Funding for Care.


Find a Residential Care Service

Find a Home Based Care Service

Funding Options for Care

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