Abundant research has focused on handovers among nurses and/or doctors in hospitals; far less is known about handovers among care providers in non-clinical contexts, such as care homes for the elderly or the disabled. Focusing on handovers in a residential care home for persons with intellectual disabilities (RCHID), this study argues that handover communication in non-clinical settings is equally important. Ineffective handovers can lead to the deterioration of the residents’ health conditions, chaotic situations and even injuries to both care providers and care recipients. Staff in RCHIDs rely heavily on handover communication to obtain information about the residents’ needs and to offer appropriate care services. Combining discourse analysis with interactional sociolinguistics, this study analyzes written and spoken discourses involved in handover communication among care providers in a typical RCHID in Hong Kong to investigate what and how communicative functions were achieved through the participants’ language use. The data were collected by convenience sampling, including handwritten notes and handover recordings of twelve sessions. Then a group interview of seven care providers was conducted to obtain supplementary data. Findings suggest that handover communication includes informational and interpersonal functions. While information delivery is the main purpose, care providers also establish relationships with one another through small talk about care home residents. The results suggest potential drawbacks of the handovers, including illegible notes, inconsistent information collection, and low interactivity. This study proposes a model that elucidates the correlation between discourse, handover communication and healthcare services, and suggests strategies to enhance such communication. Copyright © 2023 Informa UK Limited.