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Understanding care: a handy guide to care types

Residential care, respite care, nursing care – what’s the difference? With so many variations when it comes to the types of care on offer in care homes, it’s helpful to understand what each of these terms mean if you’re beginning your search. Sarah and Paige from our care home admissions team explain how it all works…

What is nursing care?

You might have heard the term ‘nursing home.’ Though often used quite broadly, this in fact refers to a care home that offers nursing on site – typically with Registered Nurses present 24 hours a day and additional support provided by visiting General Practitioners (GPs). This type of care is best suited for those who require regular medical support. The best nursing care environments acknowledge that a person’s medical needs are one part of their overall well-being and best complimented by other important forms of support. This might be supporting them to build and maintain relationships, keep their independence, express themselves in ways that suit them, make decisions based on their preferences, and so on.

What is residential care?

Confusingly sometimes used as an umbrella term for all care offered to live-in residents in a care home environment, residential care in the strictest sense is for those who would benefit from the assistance and security of living in a care home but don't need regular nursing support.

In these environments, care is delivered by trained Care and Support Assistants, rather than nurses, and usually includes assistance with everyday tasks such as getting up and ready in the morning, washing and taking medication. Again, the best environments support a person’s whole well-being and it’s common to have various support staff dedicated to doing just that (pastoral care, activities coordinators, etc.).

What is dementia care?

Dementia care provides specialist support for individuals living with dementia in its various forms. Broadly speaking it can be divided into (a) residential dementia care or (b) nursing dementia care.

a) Residential dementia care

If a person has a diagnosis of dementia but no regular nursing needs then residential dementia care may be the best fit. It’s important when selecting a care home to ensure that, should the resident develop nursing needs, the provider has the capacity to meet their needs without too much upheaval, the need to move, etc.

b) Nursing dementia care

If the resident living with dementia also has nursing needs then nursing dementia care will offer them the right kind of support, as nurses are available 24 hours a day. People with dementia usually require different support to those with other care needs. Though one person’s experience may be very different to another’s, memory loss and sensory challenges are common. The most beneficial environments support the resident as an individual, exploring their interests and what makes them tick. This knowledge can enable staff members to create plans for activities, conversations and so on that will really suit them.

What is respite care?

When talking about the care of older people, respite care usually involves a temporary stay in a care home environment. It can offer some valuable time for primary caregivers to rest and take part in important aspects of life that might otherwise be hard to access, such as seeing friends and travelling. For the older person, the stay offers a chance to access services on offer within the home and meet potentially likeminded individuals. Respite care is common also if returning from a stay in hospital and needing support to regain confidence before moving home full-time.

Find out more about St Monica Trust’s care homes

We hope that you’ve found this helpful. Choosing a care home can feel a bit overwhelming at times – hang in there! The St Monica Trust offers 4 care homes in Bristol, Keynsham and North Somerset. To find out more and arrange a virtual tour please visit our care homes page.

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