Understanding the Different Types of Adult Care Facilities

To help you find a fulfilling career in adult social care, it helps to know about the environments and facilities on offer. From the elderly to people with disabilities and special needs, discover the different types with insights, descriptions and expectations.  

Different needs require specific types of care within the different types of facilities. So, just as clients choose the appropriate environment to receive care, adult social care workers can decide which care facility best suits their preferences and skills.

In this piece, we discuss the different types of care facilities available and what roles and responsibilities each environment requires from a staffing perspective.

8 Types of Care Facilities for the Elderly

With 23% of the UK population 60 or over and a further 3.2 million aged 80 and over, a vast proportion of adult care facilities are assigned to elderly care.

Generally speaking, we can divide the types of care facilities for the elderly into two categories:

  • Nursing homes
  • Residential care homes.

Of the 17,100 (2022) UK care homes, 70% are residential care facilities, while 29% are nursing homes.

The only difference between the two is that residential care doesn’t require registered nurses (RN) but can call on nursing services if clients have specific needs. On the other hand, nursing homes come with constant care from a qualified nurse on duty 24 hours a day.

Here are the types of care facilities we have for the elderly in the UK:

Residential Care Homes

We define residential care homes as facilities that provide live-in accommodation with 24-hour care and staff supervision. As a support worker, you would provide everyday personal care to the clients to support their mobility, washing, dressing, and taking them to the toilet. Along with providing emotional and social support.

Other duties within residential care facilities can include:

  • Supporting residents with social and physical activities.
  • Booking or accommodating residents within residential settings at appointments.
  • Monitoring/supervising client conditions and undertaking clinical observations, such as temperature readings, pulse, weight, and respiration. (Training is provided.)

As a live-in accommodation providing 24-hour supervision, you may get asked to sleep overnight to fulfil your duties as a competent, experienced and reliable team member.

Nursing Homes

Nursing homes help elderly or those with chronic long-term conditions who have more complex physical and mental health conditions.

Legally, providing medications in nursing homes is administered by a qualified practitioner, such as a doctor or Registered Nurse (RN), in line with an official occupational health scheme. However, competent senior support workers with suitable training can assist with certain medications and controlled drugs when appropriate.

The facilities are similar to residential care homes in providing in-house accommodation with 24-hour staff supervision and can support clients permanently or temporarily. Due to these nursing care needs, a nursing home environment may have more facilities and equipment to manage the client care needs.

Retirement villages

Despite most residents living in retirement villages having greater independence, some employ care workers to support their clients while others may hire care providers. Alternatively, clients can privately hire support workers.

Therefore, retirement villages offer a more flexible approach to care, with the levels dependent on the individual needs and wishes of the clients.

Retirement village facilities tend to be larger, with residents owning apartments or living quarters. With retirement homes tending to be more expensive than nursing or standard residential care, you can expect improved facilities with clients having more access to leisure or luxury features like swimming pools, hair salons, gyms, libraries and restaurants.

Daycare centres

Unlike residential care and nursing homes, some daycare centres offer personal care to clients during the day with no in-house accommodation. Clients get picked up or dropped off at the centre, where they can enjoy activities and be part of a community and supports them to feel less isolated.

Some daycare centres can be specialised in specific conditions and provide activities that support these needs. For example, dementia support workers can work in daycare centres for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s and provide reminiscence sessions or activities that help stimulate the mind.

Despite not being in-house accommodation, daycare centres will have bathrooms and washing facilities where clients can be assisted to wash as part of their support.

Mental health care facilities

Some residential and nursing home facilities are for elderly clients with specific or varied mental health conditions alongside mental health hospitals like acute wards, rehabilitation wards, specialist wards and Psychiatric Intensive Care Units.

As an adult social care worker looking to specialise in mental health for the elderly, you will be helping those with more advanced mental illnesses that may provide intense physical, psychological, and social needs.

Therefore, the facilities should be equipped with the appropriate features to match these needs and support the quality of care you aim to provide. Staff would have specific training to work and support individuals who have a mental health condition.


A hospice is a free facility dedicated to providing end-of-life nursing and medical care for clients with terminal illnesses or life-limiting conditions. It offers a warm and inviting environment to ensure individuals and family members feel comfortable.

If you work at this type of care facility, you’ll be accommodating people at different stages of their terminal illness.

  • Inpatient care – This means the person is staying in the hospice, whether it’s for a few days or a matter of weeks.
  • Outpatient care – As the name suggests, the person doesn’t stay overnight. They might come during the day to attend support groups, exercise programmes, therapies, counselling or art/music therapy.


Dementia care facilities

Dementia affects more than 850,000 people in the UK, with one in 14 people over 65 with the condition.

Therefore, many residential care, nursing homes and daycare centres are established as devoted dementia care facilities. Alongside standard personal and nursing care, staff working in these environments provide care and activities specifically suiting and supporting dementia needs, such as dancing, swimming, and arts-based activities.

Dementia care is based on routine with scheduled mind-stimulating activities for clients. An ideal dementia facility will have outdoor areas for the clients to enjoy nature and comfortable indoor areas to rest and socialise.

Dual-registered care homes

Dual-registered care homes support clients who need both personal and nursing care. These facilities suit clients who may start only needing personal care but whose conditions deteriorate over time until they need nursing care.

These facilities help avoid moving clients from one facility to another or support couples with personal and nursing care conditions so they can stay together.

Due to our ageing population, numerous opportunities are available for aspiring adult social care workers to work in a facility that supports elderly clients with varying needs.

If you’re looking to specialise in a specific field of care work, such as becoming a Dementia Support Worker or Palliative Care Assistant, elderly care options offer a wide range of career opportunities within the adult social care industry.

Types of Care Facilities for Adults with Special Needs

Most care facilities for adults with special needs are residential care homes or daycare centres. The types of disabilities you will look to support will be:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Asperger’s Syndrome
  • Down’s Syndrome
  • Williams Syndrome
  • Rett Syndrome
  • Prader-Willi Syndrome
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Tourette’s Syndrome
  • Brain Injury

Care facilities for adults with special needs offer safe spaces for people, where clients receive similar care as other support worker duties such as standard personal or nursing care. Like any form of care, the goal is to help clients become more independent while boosting their general health, happiness, and wellbeing.

Residential care homes for special needs should have various facilities and equipment to accommodate learning activities across vocational, social, educational and life skills.

Levels of care vary depending on the severity of disability or needs. A client with more severe learning difficulties may require constant support with mobility, speaking, eating, etc. Clients with minor or moderate special needs may only need standard and personal care.

Find Your Ideal Working Environment for Your Career in Care

Hopefully, this blog has given you a snapshot of what a career in care will look like. If you’re keen to embark on a new career path or are in the market for a fresh role within the care industry, you’re in the right place.

At Herefordshire Cares, we showcase numerous social care jobs available in the Herefordshire region.

From Support Worker roles to Deputy Manager and Operation Team Leader positions, you’ll find an exciting range of opportunities to explore.

For any assistance or guidance, please get in touch.