When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Care homes

Residential or nursing homes are also known as care homes.  For more information about finding a care home and what to do if you have any problems regarding a care home, contact Age NI.  Care homes are slightly different to sheltered or supported housing. 

Moving into a care home

You may want to move into a care home if you find it difficult to look after yourself and it is not possible for you to receive the care you need in your own home.
Some care homes just provide personal care while other provide nursing services. Personal care includes:

  • help with washing, bathing and showering
  • help to manage continence
  • help to take medication.

If you are very frail, bedridden or you have a serious medical condition you may be better off moving into a home that has on site nursing care.

Permanent or temporary

Care homes don't just provide permanent accommodation. Many care homes cater for people who only need to stay temporarily. This could be to:

  • allow you to convalesce after an illness
  • give you and your carer a rest from each other
  • let you try out living in a care home to see how you like it.

You may be able to get the housing costs for your main home covered by Housing Benefit or Universal Credit if you move into a care home for a short period.

First steps

If you are considering moving into a care home you should contact social services. They will carry out an assessment of your needs. It might help to get advice from Age NI before your assessment. Contact AgeNI on 0808 808 7575.

Social services will suggest the best form of care for you. This could include:

  • having care provided in your own home
  • moving to a care home for a short period of time
  • moving to a care home permanently.

If social services believes that you need care they will arrange somewhere for you to go.  They will carry out a financial assessment to see if you need to contribute to the cost of this care.  The financial assessment will look at your savings and any assets (including your home) and your current income.

You can find out more about the financial assessment on NI Direct.

Do I have to move into a care home?

You do not have to move into a care home if social services suggest it following an assessment. If you are capable of looking after yourself, you can refuse to go into care or refuse to accept care in your home.
Your wishes should always be taken into account when any suggestions are made and the final decision should be yours. Get advice from Age NI by telephone on 0808 808 7575 if you think your feelings are being ignored. The Elderly Accommodation Counsel website is a good source of information on housing options for older people.

Choosing a care home

If you are going to move into a care home, you should be allowed to decide which one, so long as it:

  • is suitable for your assessed needs;
  • does not cost much more than the care homes that social work already pay for in your area;
  • is prepared to accept the contract from your social work department.

The Elderly Accommodation Counsel's website has a handy tool which allows you to see what kind of accommodation is available in your local area.
If you want to move outside your local area, social services will still have to arrange this for you. If you wish to move to another council's area or to another country within the UK, social services can make a special arrangement for you to do so.