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Adult residential and nursing care  

Sometimes people find living in their own homes no longer possible because of frailty, ill health or disability. Leaving your own home to be cared for by someone else, requires careful consideration.

What is the difference between residential and nursing care homes?

Staffed by trained care staff, residential care homes provide a safe place to stay for people who require substantial assistance with personal care tasks day and night. Nursing care homes are suitable for people in need of more intensive care provided by qualified nursing staff. 

Respite or permanent care?

Respite care is usually provided to give your carer(s) a break from their caring responsibilities. This can last from a few days to a number of weeks. Nursing, residential, specialist dementia and disabled adult respite is available following an assessment of need. Permanent care is only considered when it is agreed that it is no longer safe and practicable for you to live within your own home.


If you think you, or a person you care for, may require residential care, contact your local Health and Social Care Partnership office. A member of staff will carry out an assessment of need to determine whether it is safe and practicable for you to remain living within your own home. 

We will ensure that all avenues are exhausted before an application for permanent nursing or residential care is made. This could include:

  • increased Care at Home 
  • a period of Reablement
  • additional respite
  • a move to sheltered housing

Where will I be placed?

If you are able to make your own arrangements and completely fund the costs of your own care, you can apply directly to a care home of your choice. The Care Inspectorate provides a search facility which allows you to view registered care homes throughout Scotland.

If you are eligible for public funding, you will be placed within a local residential or nursing care home as close to your family and friends as possible. We will try to give you as much choice over your preferred placement as we can.

What will I have to pay?

If you are assessed as requiring residential or nursing care you will undergo a financial assessment to determine how much you can contribute towards your care costs and whether you are entitled to free personal care or public funding.

North Ayrshire Council applies the Scottish Government's Guidance for Charging for Residential Accommodation. This document is updated by the Scottish Government annually and is underpinned by the National Assistance (Assessment of Resources) Regulations 1992. It is available at the following link: Revised guidance for charging for residential accommodation - 2014 (PDF, 855kb).

Free personal and nursing care

If you have capital over £26,250 (2016/17) you will not be eligible for funding towards your care home fees. You will be deemed as 'self-funding'. However, you may be entitled to claim free personal care from the council as follows:

Free personal and nursing care rates from 11 April 2016 to 9 April 2017
Care typeAge(Weekly amount)
Residential Care 18-64 £0
Nursing Care 18-64 £78
Residential Care 65+ £171
Nursing Care 65+ £249

Any payment of free personal/nursing care requires an assessment. The council will pay the free personal/nursing care amount direct to the care home. You will be responsible for paying the remainder of the care home fees.

Any payment of free personal/nursing care will not be backdated prior to agreement of eligibility through your assessment.

See the Scottish Government’s booklet – Free personal and nursing care (PDF, 1.5mb).


The self-funding threshold is the amount of assessable capital, defined by legislation (£26,250 from 11 April 2016) that a service user has, above which they are required to meet the full cost of their care and accommodation, excluding free personal and free nursing care.

If you self-fund and your capital subsequently falls below the threshold you will become eligible for public funding. This is from the date of notification that the threshold has been reached, providing that the need for this level of care is confirmed by an assessment. Notification must be no earlier than the date the threshold has been reached, and a financial assessment must be completed.

Public funding

If you have capital below £26,250 you will be entitled to public funding. You will undergo a financial assessment based on your income and savings. 

If you have capital between £16,250 and £26,250 you will be expected to contribute £1 towards your care home fees for every £250 of capital you have in this range. For example:

Savings of £19,144

  • less lower self-funding threshold = £19144 - £16,250 = £2,894
  • divide by £250 tariff unit= £2,984 / £250 = £11.57
  • weekly contribution rounded up to the nearest £1 = £12

Savings of £16,560

  • less lower self-funding threshold = £16,460 - £16,250 = £210
  • divide by £210 unit =£210 / £250 = £0.84
  • weekly contribution rounded up to the nearest £1 = £1

Financial assessments are carried out annually.

Your personal allowance

Once your capital falls below the lower threshold of £16,250 we will only take into account your weekly income from pensions and benefits when assessing your charge. The minimum amount of income you will be left with is called your personal allowance. This is £25.80 per week (from 11 April 2016). This is intended to cover all personal items.

How are standards of care monitored?

All care homes are registered which means that they must meet certain standards of care. The Care Inspectorate regularly carries out inspections. You can request copies of inspection reports from care homes or the Care Inspectorate. They are also available in public libraries.

More information

Finding the care that is right for you (PDF, 347kb)