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Can a hospital force you to go into a nursing home in the UK?

We discuss your rights and the circumstances when a nursing home or care home may need to be considered.

January 20, 2022

Elderly woman in nursing home or care home

Moving into a nursing home is a big decision for all involved. Moving out of your home into a care home can disrupt any routine that you may have and the change can be difficult to adapt to.

To most, moving into a nursing home is a voluntary choice and as a result, the quality of life increases, as well as the standard of care compared to living in your home.

With that said many of us would prefer to stay in our homes and only have to move into residential care if we need it. However, there are some circumstances where older people will need to stay in a care home for either a short period or permanently.

In this article, we will take a look at the circumstances in which a person can be "forced" into a care home in the UK.


Can a person be forced into a care home in the UK?

You can not be legally forced into a care home in the UK if you are capable of making your own decisions.

Social services or the hospital may recommend that you should go into nursing care but you can't be forced to do anything against your wishes if you are mentally capable of making your own decisions.

With that said there are circumstances where a person will need to go into a care home. We will discuss those circumstances below.


You can no longer make your own decisions

Being able to make your own decisions and having the mental capacity to take in information and process it to make an informed decision is the main factor when it comes to being able to stay in your home or having to go into a care home.

If you don't have the mental capacity to make your own decisions because you have had an accident or you are suffering from a disease such as dementia then the hospital will work with your carers to decide the best place for you to get care, and this will often be a care home.

Under the Mental Health Act 1983, you could also be sectioned in a care home if it has been established that you could be a threat to yourself or others. If you are sectioned under this mental health act the local authority will need to pay for your care until your mental capacity improves or you are well enough to be discharged.


You need around the clock care

If you need around the clock care, as many dementia sufferers do towards the end of their illness, and you cannot live with a family member and your in home health care isn't going to meet your personal care needs then you may have to go into a care home.

Dementia care is difficult for families and seeing a loved one not get the care they need is tough. Some people may feel like they have failed if their elderly relative is too hard to look after, but don't feel this way as a residential care home will improve the quality of care given to your loved one.

Dementia alarms and devices

Monitored dementia devices help keep vulnerable people safer, reducing the support they require from health and social services and from the emergency services.

Dementia alarms


Respite care after hospital discharge

When an elderly person has stayed in hospital after treatment or a trip or a fall, the hospital may recommend that the elderly patient should continue their recovery in a nursing home if there is not sufficient support at home, such as having a personal alarm service in place.

Recovering from something like a trip or a fall can take a long time and can be difficult for your family members to cope with. Care home staff may be well suited to help with your recovery, although personal alarms and falls can provide additional support if you do stay at home.

The hospital will also discharge a patient into a care home when their needs have changed. When an elderly patient no longer needs continuing healthcare but needs social care, they will be transitioned into a community care facility until they have recovered. This is known as respite care.

Fall alarms

If you have had a fall or are worried about the risk of falling, a personal alarm with fall detection can provide peace of mind. Should you have a fall, it will automatically alert the 24-hour alarm monitoring centre.

Fall alarms


Funding issues

When care is provided by your local authority, you can sometimes end up in residential care if there isn't enough budget to care for you at home.

You may also have to go into nursing care if there isn't adequate care at home. Telecare systems and personal alarms can be fitted in the home which can provide not only support for yourself but give your loved one's peace of mind too.  Telecare and personal alarms can improve your quality of life at home and can be a contributing factor to cutting down hospital discharge times to your home. 


Your options when you need to go into a care home

If it is decided that you or a loved one will become a care home resident then there are a few things that you need to know.

Firstly, if a local authority is paying for your care and it's on their recommendation that you go into care it doesn't mean they can force you into one particular home.

Although you will need to stick to a budget you can look around for care homes in your area that you like the look of. If the care homes are more expensive than the local authorities are willing to fund then you can top up the payments yourself or have a family member do it for you.

You should also know that care homes and nursing care, in general, can be rather expensive. Care home residents can either get help from local authorities or can use their home as collateral. It's important to know you don't have to sell your home, as you can set up a deffered payment which means the local authority can take what they are owed from the value of your home when it is sold in the future.



A hospital or health care provider may “force” you into a care home if they believe you don’t have the mental capacity to make your own informed decisions.  You can also be forced into a care home if you are a danger to yourself or the people around you.  Finally, you can be made to go into a home if the local authority is providing you with care but doesn’t have the budget to pay for you to be cared for at home. 

When it comes to going into a nursing home don’t think of it as being forced, as often the health care providers are doing the best they can to provide you with care with the budgets they are constrained to.


Home care support with a personal alarm

A personal alarm can give you the confidence and support you need to recuperate at home and be part of planning home elderly care after hospital. Compare personal alarms online.

Personal alarms

Independent living products brochure

Learn how personal alarms and home monitoring solutions can keep you or your loved ones safe and independent at home.

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Ways to support independent living

Independent living products brochure

Learn how personal alarms and home monitoring solutions can keep you or your loved ones safe and independent at home.

Download brochure