When considering elder or dementia care for a loved one you enter a whole new world which can seem confusing. There seem to be so many different types of care available, how do you know which is the right sort for your family member? Here we explain everything you need to know about residential care and briefly mention the other types of care available so that you can more easily make comparisons and make the best decision.

What is residential care: the definition

Residential care is simply care that is provided in a dedicated residential setting. The accommodation is part of the care service, and this ensures that 24-hour personal care and support is available. As such, this is a safe home-from-home environment whereby a team of carers look after multiple people simultaneously. This brings the benefit of community, continuity and better amenities and services.

Residential care differs from nursing care. Nursing care is also residential care, but in addition to care support, nursing is available e.g. for the administration of medication or changing dressings.

More about residential care

Residential care is ideal for elderly people who are finding it difficult to manage independently at home. Carers are trained professionals who are experienced meeting the needs of their elderly residents. This doesn’t mean there is a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, residential care is one of the best ways of providing individual-centred care. The care that is provided to the individual is tailored to the unique needs of that individual.

In residential care, residents are given help with the activities of daily living as they need. For example, there may be help with washing and dressing as well as toileting and mobilising. In addition, residential care extends to socialisation and companionship.

Residential care is an excellent way of ensuring that those who are unable to live independently, but don’t need the full provision of nursing care, get the support they need to live a rich and meaningful life. It is also a way of reducing the care responsibility of family members and loved ones. Even with visiting carers, the responsibility on loved ones can be overwhelming. Residential care ensures that everyone can manage and cope.

How does it work?

Residential care is 24-7 care. However, whilst this can be long term (and is most commonly so), it can also be short-term, used as respite care (to give regular carers a break), or emergency care. Some residential care settings offer palliative care.

The term ‘residential care’ can technically apply to any residential setting providing care to someone over 18. At Eastleigh, our residential care is for elderly people.  Do check the type of residential care provided by the setting. Some residential care settings offer wide ranging care to adults of all ages, for various reasons, such as physical disability, learning disability or old age. Others will specialise in a particular area of care, for example, dementia care.

Residential care homes are staffed by care assistants. These are professional carers qualified to provide care and help with various tasks throughout the day and the night. There’s also the benefit that using a residential care home removes the need to maintain (both practically and financially) a personal home. There are no domestic tasks to be done at all. All laundry and cleaning is part of the care. There is typically a garden, with no gardening required (but can be done for pleasure if a resident enjoys this hobby!).

Unlike carers at home, residential care has the benefit of multiple people with care needs being catered for in one place. This often means that additional things can be provided onsite from regular social activities to hairdressers and chiropodists.

The space

Residential care homes do vary in size and in terms of the services and amenities they offer. However, each resident will have their own room. This will have all the furnishings needed for sleeping as well as a sitting area. Many have en suite bathrooms. The individual space can be personalised to feel homely, for example with the resident’s own bedding, soft furnishings and accessories like photographs. Many residential care homes even enable residents to bring small items of furniture.

In addition, there will be communal spaces such as lounges, dining rooms and gardens. There should be plenty of different areas for social events and entertainment, as well as quieter areas such as a reading room.

All meals are typically included in residential care, so do make sure that looking at the menu and catering facilities is high on the list when choosing a setting.

You can gather some idea of how good a residential care facility is by looking at their CQC rating and report.

Types of care

We are often asked what care is provided in residential care. The easiest way to answer is that all care is provided, except nursing care. If nursing care is needed, then a nursing care facility should be chosen instead. Often there is bridge between residential and nursing care, like we have at Eastleigh.

So, what can you expect in terms of care in residential care?

  • Personal care, including washing, bathing, hygiene, oral hygiene, support with shaving, and nail care.
  • Assistance with dressing and undressing, brushing hair.
  • Meeting continence needs and assisting with toileting.
  • Provision of all meals, snacks and drinks throughout the day.
  • Assistance with eating and drinking.
  • Medication administration (but not full treatment).
  • Help getting out of bed and getting back in, as well as repositioning in bed as needed.
  • Social activities and stimulation.

In addition, care staff should generally keep an eye on the wellbeing and safety of each resident, liaise with family and ensure that the level of care is still suitable for the individual.

Paying for care

Residential care can seem expensive because it covers everything: food, utilities and care. The average cost of a UK care home at the moment is in excess of £700 per week. Remember that this covers the vast majority of living costs. Many pay privately for this care. You may be eligible to some help from the local council depending on your savings, income and property value.

See residential care for yourself

If you are considering residential care for your loved one, please do get in touch to arrange a visit to one of our Somerset or North Devon homes. We would be pleased to showcase all of the benefits of residential care.