Residential care

This page has technical information about residential care - accommodation and support shared with other people.
A residential care home is an 'establishment' providing accommodation together with personal care.

We have put residential care in our series on rented housing however strictly speaking an inclusive fee is paid rather than a rent. The resident is not actually a tenant.

Residential care means having a room in a building shared with a number of other people. Twenty four hour care will be provided on site as will meals.

In the past there could be 20 or more people and services were inevitably institutional. More recent care homes are usually smaller, 4 – 8 people.

Residential homes are owned and managed by public, private sector or charitable bodies. Some specialise in particular forms of provision, for example for people on the autistic spectrum or those with sensory impairment in conjunction with a learning disability.

Care homes are registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) under the Care Standards Act 2000.
Homes have to meet certain physical standards; they are inspected by the CQC whose reports are published). Staff are required to be trained to a certain level and staffing ratios are laid down.

How to access

The Adult Social Care department of the local authority undertakes an assessment of needs and ìplacesî the individual in a suitable home when there is a vacancy.Better run homes will make some effort to ensure the person being placed is compatible with existing residents and vice versa however there is always some pressure to fill empty rooms.

Homes advertise on various websites. Three of the biggest are:

Self funders or those with insurance settlements may find a place themselves.

Pros and cons


  • A familiar form of provision widely available – 66,000 places (2007) for adults with a learning disability according to Care Quality Commission.
  • Regulated by CQC which gives some guarantee of quality in both building and services
  • Meals provided
  • Activities may be arranged on or off site
  • Other people to befriend and share social activities with
  • An inclusive fee for accommodation, care and support and all household expenses – clear and simple
  • Can be purpose designed for disabled people and may include additional facilities such as a sensory room
  • Seen as a secure environment.


  • Inevitably institutional to some extent; life governed by rules. Often required to do things at set times with other residents en mass
  • Those shared with may not be compatible e.g. noisy or aggressive behaviour of some residents may upset or intimidate others
  • Limited living space and private space
  • A good care provider may not be good at property management and maintenance and vice versa
  • Limits personal choice and control, little say over who live with, who staff are, life style
  • No security of tenure.

How the money works

If placed by a local authority following as assessment under Fair Access to Care (FACs) the authority will normally fund the place under a ìspot contractî with the home provider.

The individual will not be eligible for Housing Benefit or any other income support based benefits except:

  • The mobility component of Disabled Living allowance (DLA) if eligible (Lower rate £18.65, Higher rate £49.10 in 2009-10)
  • A small allowance intended for minor personal items like cosmetics (£21.90 in 2009-10).

Other issues

Residential care is a less popular option than in the past. Most local authorities are seeking to reduce their dependence on residential care and national policy favours alternatives than can offer a more personalised approach.
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Learning Disability England
Birmingham Research Park
97 Vincent Drive
Birmingham, B15 2SQ, England
Tel. 0300 2010455
Learning Disability England
Registered company: 4233275
Registered Charity No. 1092587