Care homes in the United Kingdom

1. Which laws apply to opening care homes?

The regulatory laws applicable to the operation of care homes differ across the four jurisdictions that make up the United Kingdom. Broadly speaking, the legislation will set out which regulatory body the service provider is obliged to register with before the care home can legally operate. Accompanying regulations and guidance will also set out the standards and requirements which the service provider must continue to meet in operating a care home. Key legislation includes, but is not limited to, the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (England), the Regulation and Inspection of Social Care (Wales) Act 2016, the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 and the Health and Personal Social Services (Quality, Improvement and Regulation) (Northern Ireland) Order 2003.

2. Is the care home operator required to have a presence in the local jurisdiction?

As healthcare is increasingly delivered remotely, regulators are seeking to adapt. Rather than requiring a care home operator to have a presence in the local jurisdiction, regulators are focusing on the country in which the regulated activity is taking place. Care home operators are likely to require registration with the relevant healthcare regulatory body in the jurisdiction in which the care is being provided.

No. Operators run their businesses through standard corporate vehicles. The investors in the operator business may dictate whether or not a nominated individual and / or registered manager is required for care services eg. the Care Quality Commission in England requires service providers who are corporate organisations to appoint a nominated individual, but this is not a requirement for service providers who are a partnership.

4. How are the governing bodies of the care home regulated?

Within the UK, the relevant regulatory body according to jurisdiction will routinely undertake inspections of service providers to monitor how well they are meeting the required regulations and standards. During inspections, care homes will be evaluated against a specific framework and will be given feedback. If any breaches of regulations and standards are identified, the regulatory body will often work with providers to help them to improve. The regulatory body has the legislative authority to take regulatory action against the service provider for any material breaches which could include suspending or cancelling the service provider’s registration, and preventing the care home from providing care to service users (either temporarily or permanently).

5. Is a concession or approval by any regulatory authority required to open a care home?

Yes, the providers of the care home must register with the appropriate regulatory body according to jurisdiction. These are the Care Quality Commission (England), the Care Inspectorate Wales (Wales), the Care Inspectorate Scotland (Scotland) and the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (Northern Ireland).

6. Is a care home restricted in the performance of activities on the local market?

No, it will depend on the care home’s CQC registration, and the business use of the home as regulated by the Town & Country Planning Use Classes Order. From a regulatory perspective, care home providers must ensure that they only provide activities which are in keeping with the terms of their regulatory registration. During the process of registration, the provider will be asked about the type of activity they intend to provide and to how many service users, amongst other queries. The registration will then be granted on this basis and the provider must ensure they operate within the confines of the registration.

7. Are there any restrictions on how care homes may use their profits?


8. Does the government provide any type of subsidy?

Care Home individual clients are means tested on admission by their Local Authority. Currently, if the client has more capital than £23,350 in England, £28,000 in Scotland or £50,000 in Wales, they will be responsible for paying their own care costs. People with capital less than £14,250 in England, £17,500 in Scotland or £50,000 in Wales, will have their fees funded in full by the Local Authority and in nominated care homes.

9. Is there a supervisory authority in relation to the activities of the care home?

Yes – the Care Quality Commission (England), the Care Inspectorate Wales (Wales), the Care Inspectorate Scotland (Scotland) and the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (Northern Ireland).

10. What is the number of inhabitants?

67,610,000. (source: UK Gov)

11. What is the number of inhabitants older than 65 (in %)?

17.75% (source: UK Gov)

12. What is the number of care homes?


13. Is there a waiting list?

 There is not a UK wide waiting list, but individual homes may have waiting lists.

Portrait of Candice Blackwood
Candice Blackwood
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Natasha Ricioppo
Senior Associate