Choosing a care home

There are many features and services to consider when looking for a care home. It is important that you choose a home that will be able to provide the right type of care as well as accommodating individual lifestyle needs and preferences.

Visiting Care Homes: when you have made a list of homes to visit, you can visit the home unannounced or make an appointment. An appointment will ensure that you can speak to the manager directly (this is important if you wish to discuss fees and funding). Make a list of questions and take them with you. 

The home should have a copy of the Care Quality Commission inspection report available as well as a Statement of Purpose, Service Users Guide and a copy of a resident’s contract.   Do not hesitate to ask for copies of these documents to take home and read at your leisure.

Speak to staff, residents and families at the home. Are the staff wearing uniforms, are they friendly and approachable?   Are staff engaging with the residents? Do the residents have drinks available?

Is there a happy atmosphere; are the residents in communal lounges engaged in activities during your visit? Can residents help with everyday tasks such as dusting or folding clothes?  Look around to see if there is a notice board with information or pictures of social events. Ask to see a copy of a typical menu, ask if the food is home cooked.

Useful Questions:

  • Can residents keep their own GP? Can you choose your new GP?
  • What are the staffing ratios, ask to see the staffing rota.
  • What training do the staff receive? What additional training have the trained nurses undertaken?
  • What activities are available, can residents engage in activities outside the home?
  • Is there a resident’s and relative’s association, do they hold regular meetings?
  • Is the home a member of NAPA (National Association for Providers of Activities for Older People)
  • What activities do they offer for those residents who wish to remain in their rooms?
  • Do they have regular religious services?
  • What are the visiting times?
  • Can a visitor stay for lunch?
  • Is there a trial period?

Take your time and do not be rushed into making a decision; return for further visits if you are unsure which home you should choose or to ask further questions.