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What Is Complex Care?

Fonthill House, St Albans, Hertfordshire

Living with, or caring for someone with complex care needs can be incredibly challenging – and struggling to find a suitable carer can only make matters more difficult. Complex care offers an alternative approach to health and social care for those with long-term health conditions. This includes complete medical support from a trained professional, without the removal of the patient’s independence.

What is complex care?

Complex care is a person-centred approach that offers specialist care for someone with long-term or chronic health conditions. It’s best suited to those who require additional assistance, or those who depend wholly on a caregiver to manage their symptoms, medications and other daily activities, in order to maintain a high quality of life. 

Unlike domiciliary care, complex care involves a high level of medical intervention with clinicians, doctors and nurses who specialise in a particular health condition. These conditions will vary across individual patients but are often progressive illnesses or chronic diseases, with severe or challenging symptoms. Some examples include: Parkinson’s disease, minor or severe brain injuries, neurological conditions, strokes, spinal cord injury or even learning disabilities.

Complex care is completely individualised to the patient, so there’s no set length of time that an individual may require these services. Some individuals may only require complex care for a few weeks, for example, if a patient has been dismissed from hospital, or for others, it may last years if they are living with chronic conditions.  

How do you care for someone with complex care?

Caring for someone with complex care needs requires carers to be proficiently trained in specific care techniques, such as PEG feeding, gastrostomy care, oxygen therapy, or other specialist care methods. These skills are usually learnt and taught in nurse training centres. 

In terms of how to care for someone with complex care needs, one of the first steps involved is developing a care plan by assessing activities of daily living. Essentially, all basic requirements that allow someone to remain as comfortable and physically healthy as possible need to be considered. Plus, all of these will need to be manageable by the carer alone. These include:

  • Nutrition: preparing and serving meals for the individual, and assisting with feeding where required. This type of care is often organised through meetings with dietitians and nutritionists to ensure suitable nutrition is being provided – as well as the patient’s personal preferences being written into meal plans. 
  • Mobility: keeping as active as possible is important, especially for patients with restricted mobility. Carers may need to regularly change their position and provide pressure area care to prevent injuries or joint pain. Physiotherapists often contribute to a safe mobility plan which is passed on to the carer to ensure all movement activities, outside time and social interactions are delivered. 
  • Cleanliness: carers must help with routine washing, dental care, haircare and other hygiene practices.
  • Continence: assisting with any continence aid and maintaining bowel and bladder care. 

How can a nursing home support people with complex healthcare needs?

Nursing homes can support people with complex healthcare needs by offering the professional, qualified healthcare they need. Complex care nurses are often trained to specialise in specific health conditions – being able to administer medical treatments and support general wellbeing. 

Nursing homes will help to coordinate complex care across a range of services. For example, a clinical nurse will work alongside a care manager to create an individualised complex care plan, which includes all of the details relating to an individual’s healthcare needs, diagnosis and treatments. They may also be in contact with dietitians, physiotherapists and any other specialists that assist with the wellbeing of the patient. This thoroughly planned complex care routine ensures the carer is equipped to provide efficient care to the patient. 

These plans will be reviewed on a regular basis – with the assistance of clinical professionals – and if treatments or medications need to be changed, the nurses will be informed and be professionally trained on the updated procedures.

Benefits of complex care management in a nursing home?

There are many benefits of organising complex care management in a nursing home and it often helps to relieve the pressure on families caring for their loved ones.

Receive person-centred care

One of the main benefits of complex care within a nursing home is that it’s an incredibly person-centred care approach. This means that along with healthcare requirements, the individual’s wishes are at the forefront of decision-making. Patients’ values, preferences and personal wants will be considered when shaping their care plan which positively supports more realistic health and life goals.

Care is designed around a bespoke care plan

In terms of how complex care works, the in-depth care plan helps to ensure every element of health and social care is addressed and properly managed by the carer. When the care plan is first created, it must include all medical information that could contribute to how care should be handled. This includes but isn’t limited to: patient history, current medication, doctors names and any other information about the patient’s individual diagnosis and the health condition as a whole. Records of medication and symptoms will need to be documented in this plan, so carers can report back to doctors when symptoms are improving, or worsening. 


The benefits of complex care in a nursing home aren’t limited to medical care assistance, but also provides the individual with company – boosting social interaction that often is deprived from patients with serious health complications. Everyone deserves the right to continue socialising between families and friends and enjoy their personal hobbies on a day-to-day basis. Carers working within complex care can help support this. 

Complex care, as the name suggests, is a complex and very specialised type of care. With each individual requiring slightly different treatments – whether it be medication, physiotherapy or physical support, it’s important that care is provided by trained professionals. 

At Fonthill Care, we offer an enhanced level of support, ensuring that our 1-2-1 complex care is carefully tailored to a person’s needs and bespoke care plans are crafted to provide quality and consistent care. Speak to our team to find out more about our specialist 121 care, or contact us here.

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