Care homes & continuing health care

Care homes are live-in facilities which provide food, accommodation and personal care for residents, as well as access to 24 hour medical care from trained medical professionals when required. There is usually an on-call doctor in case of emergencies, and other therapies and treatments such as physiotherapy are sometimes offered. Residents usually have their own bedroom with an en-suite bathroom and toilet, as well as access to a communal sitting room, dining room and often a garden.

Some care homes also offer short-term places, which might be useful for you if you are recovering from an illness or a hospital stay, or to give the person who usually looks after you a break (known as respite care).

Different care homes provide different types of support depending on your needs.

Care homes without nursing
Also known as residential homes, these differ from care homes with nursing (known as nursing homes) in that they provide a lower level of support, and are for people who don't have complex needs and are less likely to need regular or urgent medical attention. The staff in a such homes will generally be trained care workers rather than trained nurses, but should have all the skills required to provide the necessary support.

Some homes provide both residential care and nursing care. This means that if someone's care needs increase after they move into residential care they can continue to receive the right level of care without having to move again.

Care homes with nursing
These differ from care homes without nursing in that they support people with higher, more complex levels of need. A percentage of the staff on duty at any time will be trained nurses working alongside the trained care workers.

Care homes with nursing cost more because they provide a greater level of support. You will want to be sure that you are choosing a home with the right level of support for you. Some of the reasons which could mean that someone is more suited to a nursing home:

  • an inability to stand or walk without the support of two people and specialist equipment such as a hoist
  • incontinence of faeces or double incontinence (incontinence of both urine and faeces)
  • complex medical needs such as the need for a PEG feed to receive all food and fluids, or the need for regular (several times per day) medical treatment from a qualified nurse
  • particularly challenging behaviour such as a tendency to be aggressive towards others

Specialist care homes for dementia, learning disability or mental health problems
Some care homes, with or without nursing care, are also registered to provide specialist support for people with a diagnosis of dementia; this is known as EMI (Elderly Mentally Infirm) Care. Other care homes specialise in providing support to people with complex mental health problems, or to people with learning disabilities.

It is important to note that no-one with dementia, a mental health problem or a learning disability can legally be made to move into a care home against their will unless it can be proved:

  • that they lack the mental capacity to make a decision on their situation
  • that a move to a care home is the only way in which the necessary support can be provided to them
  • that the move is therefore in their best interests

You can go to our pages on mental capacity and deprivation of liberty for more information.

Dual-registered care homes
Some care homes provide care both with and without nursing. These are known as dual-registered homes. The advantage of these homes is that if someone's care needs increase after they move into the home they can continue to receive the right level of care without having to move again.

Finding a care home
When choosing a care home, it is important to make sure that you choose one that will be right for you now and in the future.

Care homes are run by a variety of organisations, including private firms, voluntary sector organisations and local councils.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) allows you to search for all registered care homes in a particular area. All care homes should be registered with the CQC, an organisation appointed by the government to monitor the standards of care provided. The CQC visits registered homes regularly to inspect the facilities and the standard of care, and writes a report about the home which is published online. This means that you can find out what a home is like and what services it offers, and decide if it's the right one for you. 

You can also get advice and information to help you make this important decision from a district nurse, a health visitor, your family doctor or your social worker - don't be afraid to ask.

Sutton care homes directory is your local guide to care homes in the Sutton area.

Search for care homes with bed vacancies in Sutton at

HousingCare provides a searchable independent directory of care homes in your area.

Once you've identified a few homes that you think might suit you, you will probably want to go and visit them to see what they're like, and meet the home manager, nursing staff and other residents.

Arranging a move to a care home
You can approach most homes directly to organise your own care. You may be eligible for financial support from your council to move to a care home; this will be decided following an assessment of your needs. Sutton has produced a guide to the financial assessment process.

You can visit our section on paying for a care home for advice on how you might pay for a move to a care home. Sutton has produced a guide for people needing financial help for permanent care in a care home.

There is usually a six-week trial period after you move into a care home, to make sure that it is the right place to meet your needs, and that you are happy there. If during this period you decide that it's not suitable for you, you can consider other options.

Accessing Community
Support whilst in a Care Home If an individual is living in a Care Home and wishes for some of their eligible needs to be met within the community these arrangements should be reflected in the individual's care plan. If the Council is also funding the services being accessed in the community the contract with the care home may need to be amended.

Other information and advice
Independent Age provides a short leaflet called Care Homes - What to Look For with good advice on how to choose a care home, and a larger Care Home Guide.

AgeUK has a fact sheet and a guide on finding a care home. It also has a series of videos in which people talk about their experiences of living in care homes.

AgeUK Sutton has a guide to housing in the borough.

Services such as CareHome and GoodCareGuide invite people to review or rate care homes based on their experiences as residents or relatives or residents.