We compared antibiotic prescribing to older people in different settings to inform antibiotic stewardship interventions. We used data linkage to stratify individuals aged 65 years and over in Northern Ireland, 1st January 2012–31st December 2013, by residence: community dwelling, care home dwelling or ‘transitioned’ if admitted to a care home. The odds of being prescribed an antibiotic by residence were analysed using logistic regression, adjusting for patient demographics and selected medication use (proxy for co-morbidities). Trends in monthly antibiotic prescribing were examined in the 6 months pre- and post-admission to the care home. The odds of being prescribed at least one antibiotic were twofold higher in care homes compared with community dwellers (adjusted odds ratio 2.05, 95% CI 1.93–2.17). There was a proportionate increase of 51.5% in the percentage prescribed an antibiotic on admission, with a monthly average of 23% receiving an antibiotic in the 6 months post admission. While clinical need likely accounts for some of the observed antibiotic prescribing in care homes we cannot rule out more liberal prescribing, given the twofold difference between care home residents and their community dwelling peers having accounted for co-morbidities. The appropriateness of antibiotic prescribing in the care home setting should be examined.