Eldercare - Care Homes and Care Homes with Nursing

Information on Care Homes and Care Homes with Nursing (also known as Residential Care in Ireland), and a guide to how to set about choosing the right one, is detailed below. Please note that every individual’s situation is unique, and for help tailored to your specific needs we recommend that you seek professional advice.  

Care Homes

Good care homes should provide care and security within a comfortable setting. Assistance with personal care is provided by trained carers. Limited nursing care, if needed, is provided by the District Nurse.

Care and community spirit within a care home may vary. In some homes, residents are encouraged to have an active role within the home, to some extent it depends on the type of residents at the home and the attitude of the Manager and their staff. Most residents have their own room, furnished as they wish, often with their own toilet and sink. There may be a choice of communal areas and a garden for residents to enjoy.


  • Activities/outings organised
  • Company and companionship
  • Safe environment
  • Meals provided
  • No worries about maintaining house/garden and paying household bills.
  • 24 hour assistance available
  • Help with personal care if needed


  • Some loss of independence
  • Rooms sometimes small therefore not able to take many personal belongings / items of furniture
  • The home ownership may change or the home may close
  • Other residents may not have similar abilities or interests
  • Would have to move to a Care Home with Nursing if care needs increased.

Care Homes with Nursing

Care Homes with Nursing provide care for the more infirm elderly. Residents usually require a high level of care and medical attention. The homes are usually bigger than care homes and are often purpose built.


  • 24-hour assistance available
  • Qualified nurses on duty at all times
  • Assistance with personal care
  • Safe/comfortable environment
  • Stimulating activities organised
  • Meals provided
  • Can provide a home for life
  • No worries about maintaining house/garden and paying household bills. 


  • Loss of independence
  • Rooms can sometimes be small
  • Expensive
  • May be in company of those significantly more frail
  • Not suitable for active alert older people who need very little assistance.

Dual Registered Homes

Some homes have dual registration, which means that they are able to provide both residential and nursing care.

The main advantage is that if an older person does not need nursing care now but may in the future, there will be no need to face the upheaval of a further move.


Whichever setting is most appropriate to the older person, they are advised to view a number of homes and to discuss their requirements with the Manager. An assessment will be required to ensure that care needs can be met, prior to acceptance into care.

The older person should consider their own criteria such as location, accommodation, facilities offered and of course any budgetary constraints. If you are thinking of looking for a care home, there are several factors you should consider. However, above all, you should always remember that you are the customer – a good care home will provide what you decide you need.

The care home will become the individual’s home. It should promote independence, privacy and choice whilst providing the peace of mind of 24 hour care. Visitors should be welcome at any reasonable time of day. You should visit several homes to see what they are like. But, before you do, try to think about what your priorities are:

What level and type of care do you need?

Think about the things you need help with - and see what advice your family or hospital doctor has to offer. You may need nursing care rather than just personal care or you may have specialist care requirements that not all homes can meet.

Where do you want the home to be?

The individual may want it to be as near as possible to their present home, or there might be a good reason to move. Perhaps they would like to be closer to members of their family, or in a favourite town or seaside resort. They might like to be close to a bus stop, library, pub or shops nearby.

What facilities would you like?

The individual may prefer to have a choice of communal areas, a room with en suite toilet and sink or pleasant grounds to walk in. Depending upon how fit they are, they might want to go on doing things they enjoy - some gardening, painting or playing the piano. 

What level of fees can you afford?

Even if the individual can pay all the fees from their own resources, they may still be entitled to financial assistance for the Local Authority, NHS, HSE or Benefits Agency. If the individual or their family is comfortably off, they may have a wider choice of homes but it is important to establish what may happen if private funds do run low.

Make a short-list

When you are ready to visit some homes, make a list of those you think might be suitable. It is a good idea to visit three or four at first, provided they seem suitable. If possible, ring up and speak to the matron or manager. Make an appointment with them, so you know the right person will be on hand to answer your questions.

Looking around a home

How you are received and the way you are shown round can often give a good idea of how good the staff are. You should not be rushed and you should see all parts of the home, including the bathrooms and kitchens. The home should be clean and free of unpleasant odours. Look for respectful interaction between the staff and residents and consider whether the residents look well cared for. Do you have confidence in the home manager? A lot of information may be given, but you and your dependant relative are likely to have some questions.

Questions to ask

Again, remember you are the customer. When you ask questions you should feel satisfied with the answers. We suggest some basic questions below. Add your own questions too. As you look round, you may see some of the answers yourself - but if not, never be reluctant to ask.


  • Is it available day and night?
  • Does the home provide nursing care?
  • Does the home specialise in a particular category of care e.g. dementia?

My Room

  • Would it be single or shared? (Shared with whom?)
  • Can the individual bring their own furniture?


  • How much are the fees?
  • Are there any extra charges?
  • What happens if the individual decides not to stay?


  • What facilities are there when family and friends visit?
  • Can visitors come at anytime?


  • Could the individual get to their room easily?
  • Is there a lift?


  • What is the food like?
  • Is there a choice?
  • Could the individual have meals or drinks brought to their room?

The people living there

  • What are the people who live in the home like?
  • Can the individual meet some of them? The staff
  • What are they like?
  • What training do they have?


  • Are toilets and bathrooms situated conveniently?
  • Are there good public rooms and areas for privacy?
  • Is there a garden?
  • Could the individual have their own telephone?


  • Are pets allowed?


  • Would the individual have a key to their room?
  • Is there a safe for valuables? Registration
  • Is the home properly registered? (The registration certificate should be displayed near the entrance.)

Sources of information

  • Ask your local authority for a list of care homes
  • Search websites on the internet
  • Ask at the library or citizen’s advice bureau
  • Ask at your doctor’s surgery
  • Ask your social worker.  
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