Difference Between a Residential and Nursing Care Facility

When a person requires care, there are places where they can go based on the type of care that they need.  Most commonly, a person can go to a residential care facility or a nursing care facility.  Most people wonder what the difference between residential care and nursing care is. There are some main differences between the two that people need to be aware of.

Residential Care

When a person is receiving residential care, they will have their food provided and will have assistance with their basic personal care needs. This service is often used by seniors that need some help taking care of their basic needs and can no longer live alone. When a person lives in this type of facility, they often live in an area that resembles an apartment. They can get assistance, such as getting dress, eating, and even cleaning.  Residential care areas often do not have a doctor or registered nurse on their staff all hours of the day. They will have trained staff that can dispense medicine.   Most of the residents here can remain independent, and there is still that will support their freedoms. This is more like a home setting. Visitors can come at any time, and the services are individualized.

Nursing Care

When looking at the difference between residential care and nursing care, some people will benefit from nursing care. Those that are not able to live on their own due to a medical condition or debilitating injury will benefit from this care. These facilities have medical staff that is there full time to help the patients. They can provide physical or cognitive therapy too.  The setup of the nursing care facility will vary based on the type of program that a person is in. Some of the facilities are designed to be like hospitals. Others may be set up like an apartment building or even a dorm. These facilities often have visiting hours. A person may need to have a roommate. This will vary by facility and the type of care that is required.  There care is centered around the patient, and special medical equipment such as specialized beds are necessary to take care of the residents. There are often pharmacists on staff to make sure everyone is getting a high level of care.


Both of these options are expensive. Residential care and nursing care will charge a person a lot of money. Based on information from the American Health Care Association National Center for Assisted Living, nursing care can cost more than $50,000 a year. Residential care is not as expensive, but it will still require a nice amount of money. The average cost for residential care is around $24,000 a year. This will vary based on the amount of care needed and how long a person will need to stay. Medical and health insurance may not cover the cost of nursing care or the residential care facility. In some cases, the person receiving the care or their family need to pay the entire price for consideration.

How to Choose a Facility

When looking at what is the difference between residential care and nursing care, a person will need to make an informed decision based on the health of the loved one and the amount of care that they need. When looking at the residential care of a nursing care facility, a person needs to think about what they can do and what they need assistance with. If they are having trouble performing basic tasks and need a more intensive setting, they should go for the nursing facility. If they need minor assistance or just some general help, they may be better off in the residential care facility.  A person should also look at the length of their stay. If they are going to need long term care, they may be better staying in the nursing home and receiving nursing care.

They should also speak to those at the facility and find out what services are provided. Nursing care will also provide specific items if needed by the patient.


There is a difference between residential care and nursing care facilities. The main difference is the amount of care that is provided. Those that live in residential care are often able to remain independent but may need some assistance with daily activities. Those in nursing care may have medical needs that have to be cared for daily. Both of these care facilities will be expensive. A person should get a feel for the services that they need and the atmosphere of the facility so they can get the proper care that they need.

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