Residential care

Whether you are arranging residential or nursing care yourself, or Adult Social Care is helping you, these pages explain what to look for in a care home and what to think about before you move.

What is the difference between residential and nursing care?

Both residential and nursing homes provide 24 hours a day, seven days a week care and support. As well as care staff, nursing homes have a qualified nurse on duty at all times.

If you have a medical condition that could require nursing care at any time of day, you will need a nursing home.

Choosing a residential or nursing home.

When choosing a home, you should check that the home can meet your needs. You will also need to consider how much it will cost.

Questions to ask

Visit the homes you are interested in. Talk to staff and residents.

  • are they positive about their experience?
  • are there other residents from the same sort of background as you?
  • are there activities that you'd enjoy?
  • how involved are the residents and their families?
    • through organising social activities
    • by consulting residents about any changes in the home
    • by involving the families of residents in the running of the home

Consider how easy it would be for you to get around the home on your own. Look at things like lifts, steps, handrails, grab rails in bathrooms and how the emergency call system operates.

If you have visual or hearing difficulties, does the home have any facilities to help with these? If you use a wheelchair, what is the access like?

For most people and their families, it will be important that the home seems to be well-run, welcoming and comfortable.

Take a checklist of questions with you:

  • How much are the fees and does the home charge extra for some services?
  • Can I keep my existing GP?
  • Can I keep and administer my own medication?
  • Can the home meet my dietary needs, language and culture?
  • Can I bring my own furniture or equipment into the home
  • If I bring my own TV will I be able to get cable/satellite channels?
  • Can I get the internet?
  • Is my bedroom lockable - how can I keep valuable items secure?
  • Can I adjust the temperature in my room?
  • What links are there with the local community?
    • How will I get to know what activities or outings are happening?
    • Is there public transport nearby?
  • Can I bring my pet?
  • Is there a garden or an area to sit outside?
  • Are there any restrictions about visitors?
    • can children visit?
    • can visitors come at any time?
    • can I take visitors to my room?
  • What are the arrangements for making or receiving telephone calls?
  • What standards can I expect?


All homes must be registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) which inspects, reports and rates them. You should ask the home for a copy of its latest report.

Each home must produce a service users' guide which includes a statement of the service provided. This will tell you what you can expect from a home and what to do if you have a complaint.


If you are arranging your care directly with the care home, you will need a contract with them. This should give you information in writing about the fees and what is included. 

If Adult Social Care has assessed that you need residential care, Adult Social Care will hold the contract with the home and send you a copy.

You should ask to have anything you do not understand explained to you.

What happens if my care needs change?

When you move into a care home, it will agree that it can meet your needs. If your needs change and the home can no longer meet your needs, the home has a duty to advise you of this and ask that you make alternative arrangements for your care. You should get in contact with us.

Adult social care is now provided by Northern Care Alliance

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