In many occasions, families with an older relative admitted in a hospital often have to deal with the patient being discharged into full-time care. No one takes the time to explain to these families on the steps taken, why they have been taken or who has recommended full-time care.

This has led to the assumption that hospitals can force patients into nursing care. However, this assumption is not correct. A hospital cannot force you into nursing care. But in isolated cases, the hospital can work with the family to get you into a care facility. These instances include:

You need 24-hour care or supervision

Patients with conditions like dementia require round the clock care. If you can’t live with a family member or afford professional care at home, then the hospital in consultation with your guardian can recommend you go into a care home to receive the care you need.

You don’t have the mental ability to make sound decisions

Patients suffering from severe mental issues or disability can’t make decisions about their care. In such instances, the medical team, along with your family can decide what is best for you. This could be a care home.

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Before making this decision on your behalf, you must be deemed unsuitable to make decisions through proper medical assessment as per the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

Respite care after a hospital stay

After staying in the hospital for a while, it is common for doctors to release older persons into care homes for some time. This is because your needs have changed. Although you don’t need hospital care, you need social care for some time as you recover. This type of arrangement is common for patients recovering from intensive surgery.

Financial challenges

Most older or disabled people rely on the local authority to pay for their housing and support. Suppose you’re unable to pay for professional home care, the local authority might make the financial decision to pay for residential care because it is cheaper and safer to keep you at home. However, even if local authorities or the NHS is funding your care, you still have the right to choose which care home you move into as long as it is within budget.

Why is our loved one being released into full-time care?

Hospitals are obligated to provide medical care to all patients. Although the patient doesn’t seem healthy and requires medical attention, the hospital can classify their needs as social care needs.

This can be confusing because sometimes, the care needs of the patient are not any different from when they were admitted and could even be worse.

But if the hospital says you have social care needs, then the patient becomes the responsibility of the local authority.

The local authority has a duty to care, and they have to assess your needs as an adult and ensure you have easy access to the services you need. This assessment is called a “means test.”

Do I have to go into residential care?

After the Means Test is complete, and it determines you need special care, it doesn’t mean you have to go into a care home. There are various options available to you that you can consider.

Live-in care

Your first and perhaps the most preferable option is live-in care. Under this option, a carer will come to your home at regular intervals to provide you with the care you need. However, this option is only available for individuals that still have some mobility and can manage to complete various tasks on their own when the trained carer is not available.

Respite care

If you’ve recently undergone a surgery or any other intensive procedure that requires special attention as you recover, you can consider respite care. Using this option, you have access to professional care you need while you overcome an illness or procedure.

Respite care also gives you an excellent opportunity to get a feel of how moving into a care home permanently is like in case you’re considering this move.

Sheltered housing

Sheltered housing is a housing scheme comprising of self-contained units with an alarm system and a warden at hand. They have communal areas, and some go as far as providing meals and personal care. If you’re still independent, you could also consider this alternative.


You shouldn’t feel threatened about the hospital or the local authority forcing you, or your loved one into a care home. Each of these organs is supposed to act in your best interest while involving you and your family. Even in cases where financial constraints dictate that you move into a care home, you still have the right to choose the care home you want to go to as long as it is within the budget.