Families dealing with the emotional strain of putting a spouse or relative in care often tell us that they are perplexed by some of the language used to describe the various kinds of care homes.
In response to a recent request, we felt it would be beneficial to address some often held misconceptions.
The phrase 'care home' is a general term that refers to "a modest institution that provides housing and care for individuals who are unable to care for themselves." Thus, the phrase 'care home' encompasses all kinds of residential care facilities.
Some care facilities are privately held — by people or businesses – while others are managed by local governments.
If your relative qualifies for NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding (CHC), the NHS should cover all of their healthcare requirements and care home accommodation in full – and at no expense to them, regardless of their wealth! Costs associated with CHC-funded care are not means-tested. If your relative is denied CHC, he or she should be immediately evaluated for NHS-funded Nursing Care (FNC) — a weekly payment made by the NHS toward the cost of the individual's nursing needs in the care home. Whereas placement in a local government-funded care facility is means-tested. If your relative falls into neither category, they will be required to pay for their treatment out of pocket.
Residential care homes — offer 'home-style' live-in housing with supervised personnel 24 hours a day for senior people who may need additional assistance and support with personal care. For instance, assistance with washing, clothing, personal hygiene, medicine, toileting, communication, eating, and movement, to mention a few. Residential care homes offer eating facilities and often incorporate social programs and activities for their patients (e.g. music/yoga classes/art therapy/outings).
Nursing homes (alternatively referred to as Residential Nursing Homes/care homes with nursing) – provide the same level of 24-hour care and support as above, but with the addition of nursing care and assistance for residents who require input from and supervision by a registered nurse, who is on-site to develop and monitor care plans, provide and administer treatment (e.g. injections), and conduct timely medical interrogation. If your relative is experiencing a physical or mental ailment or frailty, trained nursing personnel are available to assess, interpret, and provide medical care. In a nutshell, a nursing home is for residents who need specialized medical care throughout their stay.
'Dual-registered' — some care facilities may accommodate people who need both personal care and nursing care. The benefit is that if your relative joins the care home with just basic personal (and social) requirements, but those needs evolve into nursing needs over time, the same care facility may continue to care for them throughout this transitional period and beyond. This prevents turmoil and disturbance to their daily routines caused by having to relocate to a new care facility.
Independent living — some care facilities also offer retirement housing, which is often a bigger self-contained studio or apartment inside the grounds of the care home, which you may rent or own and live in as if it were your own private house. Your house just so happens to be located inside the care facility's boundaries. Such housing is more suited to individuals who do not require nursing care and are capable of living independently while still enjoying all the benefits and luxuries associated with being able to ‘dip' into care home facilities, such as dining, use of the gardens, spa-type services (manicures and beauty salons, hair, and physiotherapy), and social activities.
Old Mentally Infirm (EMI) - refers to elderly individuals who have a mental health condition or problem, a vulnerability, or a disability, such as Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia. Certain care homes (referred to as EMI Residential Care Homes) and nursing homes (referred to as EMI Nursing Homes) provide specialized EMI Units for individuals with severe stages of dementia. Due to the increased degree of care and assistance required to look for residents, EMI nursing offers care in a more carefully monitored and secure setting for their own safety.