Choosing a care home

The decision to move into a care home is not one to be taken lightly. You may have lived in the same house or flat for a long time, with a circle of friends and relatives living nearby. You may have brought up a family in that home and never thought you would leave. Moving into a care home is, nevertheless, the right step for some people. Choosing a care home can be difficult, as no two are alike. There are important advantages such as security, being looked after, greater comfort and perhaps new friends but you may, however, have to make compromises in living with other people.

The following questions are general suggestions of what to look for when choosing a care home. There will be other things important to you, do ask about them too - this is the way to find out and help you make the right choice. If possible visit more than one home.

Location

  • Can your relatives and friends easily visit the home?
  • Does the location suit your needs?
  • Is the home close to local facilities, such as shops, parks, post office?
  • Does it feel homely and welcoming and do you like the look of the home? Is it clean?
  • Is there a lift?
  • Can you move about easily in the home?
  • Is it too luxurious or too basic, too big or too small?
  • Can you use the garden or other private outdoor area?

Personal Needs

  • Can you have a single room or can you share if you wish?
  • Can you bring your own possessions and furniture into the home?
  • Can you use your room at any time of the day?
  • Will your valuables be kept safe?
  • Can you have your own telephone and can you have a television in your room?
  • Can you lock your bedroom?

Personal Care

  • Does the person in charge make you feel at home?
  • Do the staff seem friendly and talk to you?
  • Do the staff talk to the resident and how do they talk to them?
  • How would you be addressed and how do you address staff?
  • What personal care is provided?
  • How often can you have a bath and can you choose a bath or a shower?
  • Is there specialist equipment such as hoists and assisted baths?
  • How far is it from your bedroom to the nearest bathroom and/or toilet?
  • Are peoples' clothes cleaned and ironed?
  • Will your own doctor be prepared to visit you in the home?
  • What happens about hospital outpatients, dental and opticians' appointments?
  • How much independence will you have?

Life within the home

  • Do residents seem happy?
  • Do residents hold meetings?
  • What are the meals like? Are special diets catered for? Is there a choice of food?
  • Can you make drinks or snacks for yourself?
  • What is the daily routine, for example, will you be able to go to bed and get up when you want?
  • Can you make private telephone calls, are there any restrictions about making and taking calls?
  • When can people visit and can visitors stay overnight?
  • What restrictions apply to smoking and/or e-cigarette use, are there 'no smoking' areas?
  • Would you handle your own money and if not, what arrangements are made?
  • Is alcohol served or permitted?
  • Are there any house rules or restrictions, for example, on going out, time or return from visits?
  • Can you bring your pet with you?

Recreation

  • Will you be encouraged to follow your hobbies/interests?
  • Are outings and holidays arranged? Are there any extra costs?
  • Are religious leaders and other members of the community encouraged to visit regularly?
  • Is a library provided?
  • Are escorts available if needed?

Points to note

  • Can you spend time in the home before admission, how long is the trial period?
  • Are there any extra charges, such as laundry, continence aids, hairdressing, chiropody?
  • What happens if you become more dependent, for example, frail, ill, incontinent, lose your sight or cannot walk unaided?
  • How will the home cope if you become more dependent, especially if you are in an upstairs room?
  • What would happen if the home felt it could no longer cope with your care needs?
  • What happens to your room if you are away for a short time on holiday or in hospital?
  • Are your needs regularly reviewed?
  • Does the home cater just for residents or does it offer services to other people? (some homes offer day care to non-residents)
  • Can you get a written record about the standards of care available?

If you are funding yourself

  • Can you afford the fees over a long period?
  • How often does the home increase the fees?
  • Are the fees payable in advance?
  • What part of the fees are payable in the event of temporary absence (such as holidays or hospital admission)?
  • Have you sought independent advice about your finances?

Contact for Adult Care Connect and Direct