Everything you need to know about nursing care

Live-in home care, care homes, residential facilities, nursing care – when you’re struggling to find support for a relative the language can be confusing. It may seem impossible to understand the differences in the type of care offered so that you can work out exactly what is right for your family – so we've explained what is meant by nursing care, and how to find it. If you think your loved one might need nursing care or clinically-led care, please get in touch with a Care Advisor – they'll be happy to help you find the care they need.

What is nursing care?

Simply put, nursing care is care that is provided and supervised by a registered qualified nurse. Technically it goes beyond the supportive home care provided by most domiciliary and residential caregivers. It involves clinical care that can allow people with complex conditions and care needs to be safely supported.

Nursing care is routinely offered in hospitals and hospices, but this level of care can also be provided in the home or in a nursing home. Nurses are able to deal with:

  • Tracheostomies
  • Monitor ventilation
  • Complex continence issues
  • Stomas
  • Catheters
  • PEG feeding or tube feeding

Qualified nurses have the training, experience and expertise to manage these challenging issues, so that the person they care for can live comfortably and with dignity.

If your loved one has no complex medical conditions and simply needs support to live independently in their own home, a home carer may be the solution you need.

What is the difference between a nursing home and other residential care?

Care homes and nursing homes (or care homes with nursing) are not the same thing. Although both describe residential facilities offering accommodation, meals, personal support and around-the-clock staff supervision, there are significant differences in the level of care provided.

As well as care assistants and other ancillary staff, nursing homes have registered nurses on duty 24 hours a day. This means that they’re able to safely care for people with complex and advanced diseases needing regular nursing assistance.

Find out more about the different types of care.

Who needs nursing care at home?

Home carers are able to help with everything from chores to feeding, toileting and self-care. Live-in carers can provide around-the-clock support, which can be invaluable in the later stages of dementia. However, for more complex conditions or advanced illnesses, more specialised support is necessary. Nursing care can be vital for people with progressive neurological conditions. These include MND or multiple sclerosis as well as individuals with severe strokes, brain and spinal cord injuries, advanced dementia or terminal cancer.

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Funding nursing care

If someone has a healthcare rather than a social care need, they may be entitled to NHS continuing healthcare funding. This covers the full cost of care in their own home, or in a nursing home. People with dementia are often assessed as having social care not healthcare needs but they may be eligible to receive a weekly contribution towards funding for a lower level of nursing care.

Where to access nursing care?

You can find nurses through an agency or through private advertising. Private employment can be cost-effective. However, complex care requirements make the need to arrange illness cover and to check paperwork and qualifications even more pressing. For this reason it is usually advisable to use a reputable agency for nursing care. The agency will vet all nurses, check references, oversee all aspects of care and take the hassle away. At hometouch, we specialise in sourcing experienced carers, including specialist nursing carers. If residential nursing care is needed, the NHS and Which? offer more information and search facilities.

If your loved one needs care, but not nursing care

As nursing care is specialised it might be that your loved one simply doesn’t need it. Unless they have a specific medical condition that requires specific medical expertise to ensure safety, an experienced home carer will answer your needs.

Home carers are often experienced in dealing with all sorts of ongoing conditions and are able to support your loved one in their own home. Whether they need companionship, help around the house, help using the bathroom and getting dressed, or in keeping to their medication regime, a home carer can answer their needs.

What is a nursing care plan?

As the name suggests, a nursing care plan is a document outlining a strategy for providing appropriate care to someone.

There are a couple of different types of care plan – either drawn up by a hospital team, social services team or care provider. It’s a record of your preferences, your abilities, equipment you might need in care, nutritional and medical requirements, next of kin, points of contact if you have questions, information on the care itself and your personal budget (the amount allocated to you weekly for your care by the local authority).

It’ll be reviewed and updated to reflect any changes and possible improvements as time goes on. Initially, there’ll be a regular review to make sure the plan is performing as it should, and this will be gradually reduced to annual checks.

How does it help?

It’s an important tool for the care recipient and their family, and for the person giving care. It’s a place where the care recipient’s wishes (for example Do Not Resuscitate orders) can be logged. At hometouch, our Nursing team will work with the recipient and their family to develop a care plan, incorporating clinical needs as well as preferences and other points like dietary requirements and recreational interests. Schedule a call with a hometouch Care Advisor to find out more about how we can help your loved one with exceptional care.

How do you get a care plan?

You can request an assessment from your local council’s social services. They’ll find out what support you need, and write this up into a care plan. The assessment will decide your level of need and eligibility for care, and then address the steps to offer appropriate care. You can apply for a needs assessment from your local council here.

Carer’s assessments

Carer’s assessments are slightly different, and are focused on the person giving care (often a friend or relative) as much as the care recipient. They’re primarily to decide on the level of support a carer will need when looking after someone. Which? have put together a checklist on how to prepare for a carer’s assessment.

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