A trial run has been proposed involving about 30 hospital patients waiting to be discharged being placed with local hosts who have a spare room or annex.
If successful, the scheme could be rolled out across the country in a bid to free up much-needed hospital beds.
The company behind the plan, CareRooms, is recruiting householders who could earn up to £50 a night putting up people recuperating from a hospital stay.
They do not need any previous care experience.
But the hosts, who will be paid up to £1,000 a month from NHS coffers, will have to be security checked before they are approved.
The firm said it will transform spare rooms into “secure care spaces for patients who are waiting to be discharged”.
But critics have attacked the idea, labelling it absurd and possibly dangerous.
Former Labour minister Lord Clark of Windermere warned that “vulnerable patients” would be allocated into homes where the host had no “medical expertise”.
He added: “Won’t the Government listen to the medical opinion and drop this preposterous scheme?”
Spencer Gardner, of law firm Coffin Mew, said: “Offering beds in private residential homes raises a range of issues about safety, quality and even financial and emotional abuse, with some dubbing the scheme as social care on the cheap.”
And an NHS England spokesman said: “While it’s good to hear innovative ideas, this suggestion is a long way from being implemented and would first need to be very carefully assessed and tested.”
Homeowners would have to heat up three microwave meals a day for patients and supply drinks.
They will be offered a helpline and training.
The news comes amid a crisis in delayed discharges in hospitals.
NHS figures show that 2.2 million hospital bed days in England were lost last year due to delayed transfers of care.
The new trial is earmarked to take place in Essex, where NHS bodies and local authorities are in preliminary discussions over the project.
The scheme would begin with 30 willing and eligible patients placed with hosts over a three-month period.
Dr Harry Thirkettle, chief medical officer for CareRooms, said: “We are looking to find patients who are medically fit for discharge, who don’t have any cognitive impairments.
“The reason they would come to us is because they either live alone and don’t have support or have mobility issues.”
Last night, one Essex hospital linked to the trial scheme rejected the idea.
Tom Abell, of Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “There is no intention and there never has been for the hospital to support this pilot at this time.”