carer and patient sharing a laugh together

Nursing Home Life – A Guide

I am very content here. The atmosphere is friendly, caring and homely. I feel safe and secure, unlike when I lived on my own. Here one has no responsibilities. Others are there to care, comfort and advise if necessary. Care and kindness are at a premium. The food is tasty, varied and served with a smile. A nurse bids me good night and God bless every night. There is lots of activity to keep us entertained and I love the friendships and bonds that develop between us all – residents and staff.

NHI member home resident


The decision to move to a nursing home is a hugely positive one

A person’s move to a nursing home signals the beginning of a new stage of their life. Understandably, the move carries with it some anxiety and uncertainty. Such emotions are understandable and natural. This is a move to a new living environment and a transition to a new way of life. It is important to realise that the move opens a new way of living and opportunities. The decision to move to a nursing home is a hugely positive one.


Nursing home life is centred around residents

A care plan is drawn up on your move the nursing home and reviewed on an ongoing basis. The plan focusses on ensuring all your living and care needs. Important life considerations such as the foods you like or don’t like, dietary requirements, what time you get up or go to bed, your likes and dislikes, your clinical and therapeutic care needs, are all detailed in each resident’s care plan.


Nursing homes are comfortable and relaxed places to live in

As is evident from talking to residents, there is an abundance of happiness, fulfilment, fun and activity to be found within the nursing homes. Residents share friendship, warmth, love and hope with other residents, staff, relatives and visitors. Such engagement not only supports but prolongs general health and wellbeing.


As a resident of a nursing home, you can expect to:

  • Meet new friends with shared interests and life stories
  • Receive expert nursing care and support from dedicated staff
  • Be invited to take part in a range of social and recreational activities
  • Be encouraged and supported to enable you to learn new skills
  • Take pleasure in continuing to enjoy your favourite pastimes
  • Be supported to live independently

What else can you expect in a nursing home?

Nursing homes are designed to let you live as independently as possible. Before you move into the nursing home, staff will meet you to talk about your health and general needs. This meeting will focus on your abilities and preferences. Staff will advise you if you need any aids or adaptations and assist you in obtaining such supports, if required.

All nursing homes prepare a comprehensive care plan that covers your health, psychosocial and spiritual care needs. The plan is based on a thorough assessment of such needs and is undertaken upon entry to the nursing home. It enables staff to meet your day-to-day living requirements and is reviewed regularly.

Visitors are very welcome to nursing homes. All have comfortable visitor rooms where you can meet family and friends, often in private. In addition, nursing homes can arrange other ways of keeping in touch such as telephone, email and Skype.

Nursing homes will facilitate your wishes for holidays or overnight stays outside of the home, wherever possible, and will help you to prepare for these.

Nursing homes allow you bring treasured possessions such as photos, paintings, ornaments and, in some cases, furniture to the home. Nursing home staff want you to have your personal belongings around you because they understand how precious they can be.

Nursing home staff create happy, lively environments to live in. Activities are focussed around the residents’ interests and designed to bring enjoyment and enhance quality of life. Activities include gardening, baking, arts and crafts, music, film, shopping, exercise, celebrations, outings and reminiscence sessions. Many nursing homes employ specialist staff to organise activities to match residents’ needs, abilities and interests.


As far as possible, staff make sure that you continue to enjoy the pastimes you love. Nursing homes also give you the opportunity to try new leisure activities and learn new skills. Homes are also very pro-active in engaging with their local communities to bring local people and residents together for social activities.

Nursing homes generally have separate rooms for activities, for you to meet visitors and watch TV with others. Many have rooms for reflection and gardens where you can relax. You can even help in the garden, if you wish. Some nursing homes have education centres, gyms, spa areas, salons and shops.

Nursing homes employ chefs and catering teams to prepare tasty and nutritious meals. They change menus regularly to give greater variety – guided by residents’ likes and preferences. Some nursing homes have their own restaurants and can arrange for you to speak with a dietician about your dietary and nutritional needs.

Most nursing homes have residents’ and relatives’ councils that afford those living in the home a say in its running. Many also have volunteer advocates who speak on behalf of residents who cannot speak for themselves. The councils meet to discuss issues that affect residents’ daily lives in the nursing home. Their suggestions and comments are given to management to improve services.

Your views and opinions are very important to the nursing home. Managers and staff need to know what you are happy (or not happy) so they can improve the care you receive. Each nursing home has a formal policy on complaints management, and under the regulations that govern nursing homes, you have the right to make a complaint and have it dealt with.


The nursing home will inform you of its complaints policy. If you are concerned about your care or that of a family member, you should initially raise it through the nursing home’s Complaints Policy – a requirement under the National Standards for Residential Care Settings for Older People in Ireland. If you are unhappy with how your complaint is handled, you can refer it to the Office of the Ombudsman.