Five Things to Consider When Choosing a Care Home

Jun 8, 2023

Choosing the right care home can be challenging, especially if this is your first experience with such facilities. You want to find the best care home for your loved one, so we’ve put together some of the best tips to help you make the right choice.


When to Consider a Care Home?

This is a common question we often hear. You may want to consider a care home if your loved one:

  • Struggles to live alone, even if they have help from family, friends, and paid carers
  • Had a needs assessment that suggested a care home is the best choice for them
  • Has a complex medical condition that requires special attention during the day and at night


Step One: Consider All the Options

The first step is to make sure you’ve considered all the options. Keep in mind that moving to a care home is not only about changing your loved one’s environment; it also costs quite a bit.

So, it’s best to think about the least disruptive and expensive options first. These may include support to live independently at home or in sheltered accommodation.


Step 2: What Kind of Care Homes Are There?

As you start searching for a care home, you’ll find there are basically two types to choose from:

  • Residential homes: include accommodation, and help with washing, dressing, taking medications, and going to the toilet. Some may also have activities, such as day trips.
  • Nursing homes: these provide personal care but also include 1 or more qualified nurses on duty to offer nursing care. They may help people who have severe learning disabilities, severe physical disabilities, or both. They may also work with patients who have more complex medical conditions that require qualified nursing assistance.

Some care homes offer both residential and nursing care facilities. The care homes may be run by private companies, volunteer or charity organisations, and sometimes by local councils.

Both residential and nursing care homes usually offer permanent residence and offer care for their residents. Some care homes focus on supporting patients with specific conditions, such as dementia.

You can find more information about each care home on the site of the Care Quality Commission (CQC). This organisation regulates all care homes.


Step 3: Be Clear About Who Will Fund Your Care

Next, it’s essential to consider how to pay for your loved one’s care. If they need support, their local authority may be able to help with the costs involved. The amount they receive depends on your needs and how much they can afford to pay.

The first thing they/you need to do is contact the social services department of your loved one’s local authority. They can tell you whether your loved one’s eligible for funding or not. Be sure to let them know your loved one needs some help.

The local authority has the legal duty to carry out an assessment to find out what you need. The process is called a “care needs assessment” and involves an occupational therapist, nurse, or social worker. The assessment may be done over the phone, or it may be necessary to complete a self-assessment form with help from your local council. It may also be done in person in your loved one’s own home.

During the assessment, your loved one will be assessed on how well they can carry out daily activities. This may include washing, dressing, and managing their toilet needs, as well as living safely in their home.

If your loved one has a complex medical condition, they may qualify for free NHS continuing healthcare funding. This also requires an assessment to see if they’re eligible for assistance.


Step Four: Find the Right Home

Next, it’s time to search for a suitable care home for your loved one. You may be wondering what to look for in a care home. That’s OK! We’ve got you covered there, too!

Here are some helpful questions and things you can do to determine whether the care home is right for your loved one:

  • Ensure the home provides the level of care they need or may need in the future
  • Read the facility’s brochure or website; if it seems like a suitable place, call or email to arrange a visit.
  • Read the most current inspection report for the home. You can find this on the CQC website (see above).

We suggest making a list of at least 3-5 facilities during your search. After reading about each one, you can call to arrange a visit. The last question to ask is whether the facility has vacancies. If not, ask how long their waiting list is.


Step 5: What Makes for a Good Care Home?

During the researching phase, you may be wondering how to tell a quality care home from a low-quality facility. We’ve got you covered there, too.  You can use our list below to determine whether a care home is good or not.

Use these questions to determine if a care home is quality or not:


The Facility’s Quality

  • Are the buildings and grounds well maintained?
  • Is there an accessible garden or courtyard?
  • Are there pleasant views surrounding the home?
  • Do the staff seem welcoming?
  • Is the home clean, and does it smell fresh?
  • Are the rooms kept at a comfortable temperature?
  • Are the rooms well decorated?



  • Are family and friends able to get there easily?
  • Are there enough parking spaces at the care home?
  • Are facilities such as shops, parks, and places of worship within easy reach and accessible?
  • Is there good wheelchair access into and within the building, including wide doorways?



  • Are staff welcoming and interested?
  • Do the staff get to know about residents’ lives and experiences?
  • Is there a manager available and a senior member of the staff on duty at all times?
  • Is there a suitable ratio of staff to residents during the day, at night, and on weekends?
  • Do staff have care qualifications?
  • Is there a high staff turnover? (Definitely not a good sign!)


Other Considerations

  • What activities are on offer for residents?
  • What is the ratio of staff to residents?
  • Do they offer the healthcare your loved one needs?
  • Does the facility offer a trial period?
  • What is the home’s visiting policy (for family & friends who want to visit loved ones)?
  • What do the facility’s contract and terms say/require?

If you’re visiting care homes on behalf of your loved one, it’s a good idea to ask them what questions they may have about these facilities. Be sure to go over your questions with your loved one to get their input. Ask them which things are more important to them.

As you visit each place, it’s a good idea to ask if you can take photos and record your thoughts on each care home. Be sure to write down any answers each facility supplies to your questions.


Concluding Thoughts

Searching for the right care home for your loved one can be challenging. There’s a lot to consider and you want to choose the best facility.

You can use this article to find a quality care home for your loved one. Just follow the steps we have here. And remember to keep your loved one in mind. Be sure to find out what’s important for them in their new care home.

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