Post No3…5 Differences Between Purpose Built and Converted Care Homes

Post No3…5 Differences Between Purpose Built and Converted Care Homes
Photo by Rachel Nickerson / Unsplash


After previously writing about the difference between nursing homes and residential homes it seemed a good idea to discuss this particular topic further. It’s always worth looking at both when seeking a potential care placement, which is why I wanted to write about the 5 key differences between the two options available on the market.

To clarify, a converted care home is what I term the ‘old model’ and describes care homes that were once something else, like a large Victorian house for example. Purpose built homes (the new model) will vary in age but are mostly more modern and are designed specifically for the service they provide.

As previously noted, the difference between a residential home and a nursing home can be bit of a grey area, where as the differences between purpose built and converted homes is a bit clearer:

1)     Operations

In a purpose-built care home you will often find a more structured team matrix, with different departments having their own line managers. This includes a management team, care team, domestics team, maintenance team, kitchen team, admin team and an activities team. All teams will have their own remits, and the work load is divided to those with skills in those areas.

In a converted care home this may not always be the case, particularly the role of the Home Manager and the care team. In a converted home, the Home Manager will be responsible for viewings, for marketing, for family liaisons etc on top of their own workload. The care team may also be involved in doing domestic work, laundry and activities.

Without designated teams, the care team may become overrun if they are not fully staffed on the day, meaning other tasks will be prioritised over things such as domestic or activities.

Did you home fee's will vary simply because on their location across the UK

2)     Space / Size

Open | Instagram: @timmossholder
Photo by Tim Mossholder / Unsplash

Purpose built care homes are much larger than converted care homes, as a general rule. They will have spaces for multiple lounges and dining rooms, and will likely have facilities such as a bar, a cinema room, a café and outdoor gardens.

The rooms will also be a good size and more consistent in their facilities, for example they will all be en-suite and mostly come furnished with bed, chair, TV and wardrobes. Purpose built homes can be anywhere from 50 up to perhaps 80 or 90 beds, where as most converted care homes tend to be around 30 beds or so.

Converted homes normally have one living space and dining room but do mostly have decent size gardens for the residents to enjoy. The rooms will vary in size and facilities, with not every room having en-suite and not all of them will necessarily come fully furnished.

3)     Segmentation of Care Types

This leads on from the space and size difference, because purpose-built homes have more space they are able to segment the care types within the home. This means specific areas are created and staffed to match the needs of the residents. A good example is a dementia setting, which will often have items of memorabilia or old pictures that could stimulate memories. Staff can also receive specific training for the type of care they are providing.

In a converted care home they do not always have the space to do this, which means all care types and residents are in one setting. As sad as it maybe, there is still quite a stigma around dementia care, and so these settings may affect some people as they are more likely to be exposed to behaviours associated with dementia.

4)     Activities

This was touched upon earlier, but is an important difference and so I wanted to elaborate it further. For me, providing stimulation is almost as important as providing good care, being isolated is not pleasant and can cause a person to become lonely, but the activities a home offers can play a huge part in preventing this. Activities also lead to social interaction, which we all need no matter what age we are.

Purpose built homes will have a designated team for this, but they do need make sure the teams are working well together and are fully staffed, which is not always easy. If the team is fully staffed and working well, they will provide meaningful activities 7 days a week.

Converted care homes will also run activities although this needs to be pushed by the Home Manager and normally provided by the care team, and many of them do a great job at providing the stimulation the residents need. The risk in converted homes is that if they do not have a designated team to provide activities, and if staffing is light, other things will be prioritised above providing activities.

Top Tip: Sometimes dropping by unannounced is a good way to see what happens day to day.....(Covid permitting)

5)     Cost

Historically, the difference between the two types of home was large, perhaps around £700 per week. However more recently this has shifted slightly which I believe can be linked to the supply and demand issue within the industry, with analyst suggesting the industry year on year is not building enough beds to meet demand and this is pushing up care fees.

Many converted care homes in Hampshire are now charging anywhere between £800 - £1300 per week, with purpose-built care homes charging roughly between £1350 - £1700 per week. It is important to note that every care home in every area will have a different pricing structure, and these figures are a rough guide in Hampshire homes only.


To summarise this topic I’ll say something that I’ll probably say a lot, which is that visiting care homes remains the best method of identifying the differences between them and getting a feel for the home. Purpose built homes will offer more modern facilities, but the main driver in a successful home is its people and its ethos, and if a home has both, either purpose built or converted, it will be a good home worth considering.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, The Care Whisperer, talking about care in a way that no one else is. If you would like to be made aware of future content, please hit the subscribe button and I’ll look forward to seeing you next time