What is it?
It is generally acknowledged that people are living longer these days. Advances in healthcare and a trend towards a healthier lifestyle have caused the older population to swell in number, and while this is obviously great news, there are some important social consequences.
Elderly people are often unable to look after themselves in the twilight years, and with more people living longer, the demand for resources to care for them is growing. Family and friends often help, but an increasing amount of the responsibility is being taken up by a growing sector of care providers. In fact, the figure of older people in care homes now approaches 500,000 in the UK alone.
The elderly care industry can be split into two categories – nursing homes and residential care homes. Nursing homes are basically private hospitals for elderly residents requiring high levels of care, staffed by managers and nurses with advanced levels of medical and care training.
Residential care homes, on the other hand, are old people’s homes. They provide a place to stay for elderly people who perhaps cannot do everything for themselves, yet nevertheless enjoy a degree of independence and require little hands-on care. They are staffed by qualified carers whose level of training need not be as advanced as those working in nursing homes.
In April 2002 the Registered Homes Act was superseded by the Care Standards Act. Under the new system, both nursing homes and residential care homes are regulated by the same body – the National Care Standards Commission.
The residential care home sector is open to a wider range of people but much of the information on residential care homes will also be relevant for nursing homes.