Introduction to residential care and nursing homes

If you need a level of support that cannot be provided in your own home, a residential care or nursing home may be the answer. This page will give you an overview of what’s available and some issues you may need to think about.

Choosing a residential care or nursing home

Your local Health and Social Care (HSC) Trust can provide information about what services are available and how to get them. The Trust has a duty to assess your care needs and make sure that these are met within the resources available to them. Charities may also support people with a specific disability and are a good source of information.

You have the right to choose your residential care or nursing home. Finding one that is right for you might take some time. You should make sure the home you choose has the facilities, equipment and staff with the right training to meet your needs.

The Trust will be able to advise you of the amount that they normally pay for someone with your assessed needs. If you want to move into a home that is more expensive, you may need to find a way to pay the difference.

Types of residential care or nursing home

There are different types of homes. Some offer full time nursing care, others support people with a specific disability or medical need. Staff from your local Trust will advise which type of home is best for you.

Covering the cost

Many people worry about covering the cost of home fees as sometimes residential care or nursing homes that provide services and facilities appropriate to particular disabilities can be expensive. HSC professionals will assess your needs and help you find a home that meets those needs.

You will have a financial assessment to work out how much you can afford to contribute towards your needs.

Temporary stays in a residential care or nursing home

You may need a temporary stay in a home to recover from an illness or as a break for you and your carer. You should also be able to stay on a temporary basis for a trial period to see if the home suits you. Some people also go to homes for day care.

Will my benefits be affected?

Moving into a home can affect the benefits you receive. Most of your benefits will form part of your contribution to your residential care or nursing home fees so it is important to make sure you are claiming all the benefits you are entitled to. Your benefits can also be affected by a temporary or trial stay in a home.

Residential care and nursing homes and hospital

In exceptional circumstances, you may have to move to a home directly from hospital. On discharge from hospital, you have the right to choose the residential care or nursing home that best meets your needs.

You cannot be moved directly into a home against your will. Sometimes a hospital stay becomes necessary whilst living in a residential care or nursing home.

Residential care and nursing homes standards

In Northern Ireland, the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) registers and inspects residential care and nursing homes. When you move into a home you should be made aware of the complaints procedure.

If you have any problems you can complain in the first instance to the home directly or to your local Trust. If you are then still not happy with the response you can contact the RQIA.

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