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Care homes and hospices

There are many types of care homes. These include permanent care homes for older people, homes for younger adults with disabilities and homes for children, and they may be privately owned or run by the voluntary sector or local authorities.

Choosing between residential care and independent living

Social services normally encourage younger adults who they assess for support to be as independent as they can. Supported living may be an option for younger adults. This allows people to live independently in the community but with basic support. The support offered includes help with setting up a home and managing finances, and assistance with cleaning and shopping. 

For older people there are various alternatives to residential care. These include sheltered housing and extra care housing schemes, which offer independence with an increased level of care and support.

For many people there is also the choice of living independently at home with community care support.

More information is available on the NHS Choices website.

The Care Quality Commission registers and inspects care homes. You can search their website for all registered care homes.


The aim of hospice care is to improve the lives of people who have an incurable illness. Hospices provide care for people from the point at which their illness is diagnosed as terminal, to the end of their life. Hospice care places a high value on dignity, respect and the wishes of the person who is ill, and aims to look after all their needs. A hospice, as well as providing care in the hospice itself can also provide hospice care to people at home, in a care home or in hospital.

Hospice care provides for medical, emotional, social, practical, psychological and spiritual needs, as well as the needs of the person’s family and carers. Hospices aim to feel more like a home than hospitals do, and can provide individual care more suited to the person, in a gentler and calmer atmosphere than a hospital.

Most hospices will be happy to show you around their facilities if you are considering hospice care.

Complementary therapist Joan with patient Rose

When does hospice care start?

Some people think that you only go into a hospice when you are dying, but this is not true. You might go into a hospice for a few days early on in your illness to help control symptoms such as pain or breathlessness, and then go home again. Or you might go into the hospice so that your family or carers can have a break from looking after you for a short while. This is called respite care.

Hospice care is free of charge. You can contact a hospice directly yourself, but the team will usually also ask for a referral from your doctor or nurse. Hospice places are limited, but you can contact your local hospice to see what is available.

Find your local hospice.

Page last updated 23 January 2018