How To Choose A Care Home

Choosing a care home for yourself or someone you love is never easy. Here are a few things you’ll want to consider.

Nursing homes versus care homes

Nursing homes have qualified medical staff on site; care homes may not, so do consider what type of service you’re looking for. It’s worth speaking to your GP about which type of home might be best and whether they can recommend anywhere. Your local council can also assess your care needs. Certain health conditions, such as dementia and Parkinson’s, will require specialist care, so you’ll need to check whether the homes you’re looking at have staff with suitable skills and experience.

Budget

You’ll want to check whether you’re entitled to any financial support towards the fees, so do contact your local council for a means test. Extra support towards nursing care may also be available from the NHS. Once you know what help you’re entitled to, you can work out which local care homes are within your budget. Remember to check exactly what the fees cover and how much notice you’ll be given when the fees increase.

What makes you happy?

Have a think about the type of care home you or your loved one would most enjoy living in. Do you want a garden? What kind of activities would you like to take part in? Do you want a small, peaceful home, or a larger, sociable one near to shops and cafés? Do you need one on a bus route to make it easier to reach for visitors? Do you need a home that will accept visits from pets?

Read reviews

Check the regulatory authority’s report for each care home that you’re considering and read reviews at www.carehome.co.uk and www.iwantgreatcare.org. It’s also worth asking for opinions on social media, for example on your local Facebook groups.

Visit each care home on your shortlist

Brochures and websites are useful for creating your shortlist, but you’ll want to visit a few homes before you make your final decision. When you visit, speak to a few members of staff and residents, as well as the manager. Prepare a list of questions before you go. Does the home feel dark and dated or light, fresh and inviting? How welcoming do the social spaces feel? Can you sample the food or at least see the menu? What’s the policy for visitors? If you or your relative has a physical impairment, how will the home manage that? What size rooms are available?

Extra information

You can search for local care homes at www.carehome.co.uk, where you’ll also find reviews and advice on financial support, care needs assessments and more.

Age UK (www.ageuk.org.uk, 0800 055 6112) has lots of advice about choosing and paying for a care home.

You may also want to seek advice from specialist health charities, such as the Alzheimer’s Society (www.alzheimers.org.uk, 0333 150 3456) and Parkinson’s UK (www.parkinsons.org.uk, 0808 800 0303).