Care Guides > Your Guide to the Different Types of Care Homes

Your Guide to the Different Types of Care Homes

The different types of care homes

Estimated Reading Time: 12 minutes

If the time has come for you to find a care home, you may be wondering what all the different types of care homes are.

Luckily, Lottie is here to clear up any confusion and provide a clear guide to the different care homes. Read on to learn more.

Kickstart your care search

Discover the best care home for your loved ones through Lottie.

Find your nearest care home

Different Care Homes for Different Needs

Care homes are special buildings that provide accommodation, meals, care and support for those who are finding daily life difficult.

This can range from needing help with personal care such as washing, getting dressed and eating, to providing medication and assistance with daily tasks such as laundry or getting around.

Illustration of an elderly care checklist

Care homes vary in size and style, but their overall aim is the same; to help residents enjoy their lives in peace and comfort, while promoting independence as much as possible.

Most care homes offer an activities programme through their activities coordinator to keep residents entertained, as well as day trips and excursions in the local community and its surrounding areas.


Care homes are usually owned by private companies, but you’ll find lots of care homes that are owned by local councils, charity organisations and voluntary organisations.

Matching your requirements

Care seekers all have unique needs and care requirements; so the type of care home they go into will need to be able to meet these needs and requirements.

Care homes range from residential care homes for those who need light care and support with day-to-day tasks, to homes that deliver specialist nursing care, dementia care, palliative care and respite care. Carry on reading to learn more about each type.

Residential Care Homes

Residential care homes provide care and support for people who do not need 24-hour care, but do need help with daily tasks; from washing and getting dressed to doing laundry and mealtimes.

Residential homes sometimes offer short-term, long-term, emergency, respite and even palliative care to the elderly who cannot be cared for in their own homes.

You’ll find that residential care homes vary in size; with smaller homes housing just a handful of individuals, to much larger care homes providing care for hundreds of residents at a time!

Care home residents and workers

Depending on your preferences, you might find that a larger care home offers more opportunities to socialise and make friends; whereas smaller care homes provide a greater level of peace and quiet, ideal for those who like solo activities.

In a residential care home, you might be given a furnished or unfurnished room, which you can then decorate with items of your choice. Some homes also allow shared rooms, or pets - so check with the care home provider if you are interested in this.

As well as basic meals, housekeeping and laundry services, some residential care homes have on-site hair and beauty salons, cafés and communal gardens.

Residential care isn’t just for elderly people either - it can also be offered to young adults and people with physical or learning disabilities, mental health issues, alcohol or drug dependence and other such care needs.

Young people may be given help with basic life skills such as cooking, shopping, budgeting and employment.

Nursing Homes

Nursing care homes are often similar to residential care homes, with the main difference between the two being that a nursing home always has qualified nurses on site.

Nursing homes are therefore able to offer higher levels of care; such as caring for those with a mental or physical disabilities, or people with long-term health conditions whose needs would not be met in a residential care home.

An illustration of a nursing home

People who might need nursing care include those who have had a stroke, people who are unable to eat on their own, or people with long-term conditions like cancer or dementia. Nursing homes might also have specialist facilities on site to care for those with dementia, alcohol or drug dependence or terminal illnesses.

Although individuals in a nursing home might not be as physically active as residents in a residential care home, staff still try to organise fun events for them, such as visits from entertainers and activity sessions.

Respite Care Homes

Respite care homes are a temporary living arrangement to give carers and those they care for a break. It gives residents a change of scenery, the chance to meet new people and enjoy new activities while their carers have a rest, or go on holiday.

Some different types of respite care include:

  • Adult day care centres
  • A short stay in a care home
  • Sitting services
  • Home care from a different carer
  • Help from family and friends

People can also use respite care after a stay in hospital, where they are well enough to be discharged but not well enough to return home.

Respite care services can be vital to preventing carers from becoming exhausted and run down. Although a carer’s job is very important, we must remember that carers are people too - people who need holidays and their own self-care or pampering time. The job can be very physically and mentally demanding, so taking regular breaks is a key part of being a good carer.

It’s not just carers who can go on holiday - respite holidays mean that the person being cared for can also enjoy some time off.

Organisations like MindforYou offer supported holidays in the UK for people with dementia and their carers, while charities like Revitalise offer subsidised holidays for elderly or disabled people.

Dementia Care Homes

Dementia is a condition that gets progressively worse over time, so those with the condition need increasing levels of care as a result.

There are lots of dementia care homes out there to provide specialist care for those living with the condition.

Dementia care homes often have special sensory equipment to help residents feel safe and secure, in addition to having increased security to prevent confused residents wandering off-site or getting lost.

Common features in dementia care homes include:

  • Simple building plans
  • Smaller zones within building
  • Special use of colours on doors, carpets and hallways
  • Secure front door and grounds
  • Sensory gardens
  • Memory boxes for each resident
  • Props and photos in residents’ rooms to jog memories
  • Soft furnishings, carpets and curtains to reduce noise

Palliative Care

Palliative care homes are for those with a terminal condition, who are nearing the end of their life. Palliative care can be delivered in nursing homes, hospitals, outpatient palliative care clinics or at home (this is known as palliative home care)

Residents are given the care and support they need to manage their symptoms as comfortably as possible and ensure their quality of life is as good as it can be. Patients in a palliative care home are given round-the-clock care in a peaceful and quiet environment.

If you choose to receive palliative care at home, this means you can stay in familiar surroundings with your furniture, possessions and loved ones.

Specialists will visit your home - or live in the home with you if needed - to help with things like:

  • Personal care
  • Pain management for neurological and physical symptoms
  • Administering medication
  • Preparing meals
  • Companionship

Your team of palliative care specialists may include doctors, qualified nurses, social workers, nutritionists and other professionals.

Dual-registered Care Homes

Dual-registered care homes take in residents who need a combination of personal care and nursing care.

Where someone living in a residential care home might need to move to a different home if their care needs change, dual-registered care homes enable people whose care needs change to stay in the same home, without the possible stress of moving.

Dual-registered care homes are ideal for couples with different care needs - for example, one person needs nursing care - as they then may be able to stay together rather than having to go into separate homes.

Other Care Options

When it comes to care, care homes might not be your only option. Here are some examples of other routes you can take.

Assisted living

Also known as extra care housing or sheltered housing, with assisted living, care seekers move into a self-contained flat rather than a care home.

Meals will be prepared for them, as well as any personal care needed from staff, such as help with washing, dressing, toileting and medication management.

Assisted living properties usually have shared communal spaces such as lounges, dining rooms and gardens to help residents stay connected and engaged, plus 24-hour emergency help systems and a scheme manager warden living on or off-site - warden controlled housing - to offer advice and help when required.

Assisted living is ideal for those who don’t want to go into a home, but still need personal care to be able to live an independent and happy life.

Retirement villages

Retirement villages are special developments where elderly people can live in their own property as part of a community.

Retirement villages mean that care seekers can enjoy independent living and live with their partner and any pets they have while still being safe and cared for.

Illustration of a retired lady at home

Retirement living is becoming increasingly popular in the UK and is a great choice for those who are about to stop working and want to live independently in a community environment.

You can buy or rent your retirement property and you will usually be able to furnish and decorate it as you please. Some retirement communities allow pets too.

Retirement villages vary, but some of the features you might commonly find include:

  • Different styles of accommodation, from houses and apartments to retirement bungalows
  • Leisure facilities such as gyms and swimming pools
  • Restaurants, pubs, bars and cafés
  • Communal gardens
  • Communal lounges and dining rooms
  • Guest suites for visitors
  • Libraries
  • Activity rooms and shared activities calendars

Adult day care centres

Run by local councils, the voluntary sector or private firms, adult day care centres provide a place for elderly people to spend the day, doing activities, socialising with others and enjoying light refreshments or a cooked meal.

Adult day care centres should be run by qualified staff, with some day centres specialising in care for those with disabilities or recovering from illnesses.

Activities at the day care centre might include gentle exercise classes for over 60s, arts and crafts, games, outings, entertainment and how-to classes on cooking and laundry. Some day care centres offer hairdressing, assisted bathing and pampering services like pedicures and massages.

Some day centres offer training or work projects for people with disabilities. Others help those recovering from illness, such as a stroke. They usually provide light refreshments such as tea, coffee, cakes and biscuits. Some may offer a cooked lunch.

Home care

If your care needs have changed but you don’t want to go into a care home, home care is probably a good option for you.

With home care, you’ll be assigned a carer or care team who visits your home on a regular basis to help you out with tasks you find difficult. The duration of these visits will depend on your individual care needs and can range from just half an hour to several hours a day.

Examples of these tasks include:

  • Help with washing and dressing
  • Getting in and out of bed
  • Cleaning
  • Cooking
  • Shopping

Having home care means that care seekers can stay in their own home, close to their friends and family. Home carers also provide companionship care for those who experience feelings of isolation or don’t see their family often.

If your loved one looks after you, did you know that they might qualify as a carer? If they do, they may be eligible for a carer’s allowance. If this is the case with you, you should get your carer to do a carer’s assessment.

If you are going to receive home care, you may be required to make special adaptations to your home, such as installing handrails, a walk-in shower or an alarm system that detects a fall or an emergency and contacts someone for help.

For those who need round-the-clock care, live in care can be arranged.

Mental health hospitals

Mental health hospitals are there to support individuals with various mental health issues. Expert staff are on-hand to assess each person on an individual basis to decide on the best care plan for them; whether it’s therapy or rehabilitation.

Individuals in mental health hospitals are supported to become more independent through developing their skills and confidence to better deal with their condition.

Someone might be admitted to a mental health hospital if:

  • The person needs to be further assessed
  • The person is a risk to their own safety, or the safety of others
  • The person has no safe option for being treated at home
  • The person needs more intensive support than they can get a home or anywhere else


Hospices are there for people with a terminal illness or condition who are coming to the end of their life. Providing patients with dignity in care, and peace and quiet, hospices care for people with conditions like cancer, MS, Parkinson’s and motor neurone disease.

Individuals in hospices are given pain relief and care to make their symptoms as manageable as possible, with emotional and practical support available to loved ones. Counselling and complementary therapies may be offered to families and friends.

If the person with the condition is no longer able to make healthcare decisions for themselves, their family members or a caregiver may have to step in to make those decisions on their behalf.

Caregivers have several factors to consider when choosing end of life care, including whether the person would want to use life-extending treatments, how long they have left to live, and what their preferred care setting would be; for example, in a hospice or at home.

Choosing the Correct Type of Care Home

Illustration of different types of care

Choosing the best care home for you is a very important decision - and not one to be taken lightly.

Make sure you take all the time you need to assess the different types of care homes, speak with friends and family as well as expert health professionals and research different care homes to see what might be a good fit.

Remember, if you are struggling with the decision you can always use Lottie’s helpful guides and FAQs to find more information on how to choose a care home.

Or, why not get in touch with one of Lottie’s care experts who will guide you through the care home search process for free! Contact us here.

Similar Blog Posts

Based on your selected criteria and the activity of similar individual's using Lottie.