The following guide to Choosing a Care Home lists our specific stages from a to z – covering everything from researching the best local care homes, sorting the finances to settling into a new home life.
The groundwork

When you decide a residential care home might be the best solution to meet the needs of your loved one, this will be the first of many tough decisions. This is the time for research, the more thorough you are, the better.

  • Search the internet to find care homes in your area. The local paper is a good place to start, as many homes advertise.
  • Ask your local GP for recommendations, as well as friends and family. Word of mouth is powerful – a great care home will have a good reputation.
  • Call each home and visit their website to gather information, plus order a brochure.
  • Broach the subject about finding a care home with your loved one. Keep them involved in the decision-making process.
Viewing homes firsthand

Once you’ve sifted through the literature, you will start to get an idea of which care homes you may like to visit. Don’t discard homes purely on the material itself. The only way to get a real feel of a care home is by paying a visit.

  • Shortlist the best homes and make appointments to see the managers.
  • Do your homework – take a list of questions you want answered to the visit. It will ensure specific areas get addressed.
  • Take in everything – the décor, level of staff, quality of food, facilities, activities to occupy residents and how families integrate into the home.
  • Go to the ‘show round’ without your loved one initially to ensure your first impressions our good before they visit.
Making the numbers work

Paying for the care of your loved one is a big commitment and will require sound financial planning. Keep on top of this from the start to ensure care fees are within your budget and there are no surprises later.

  • Check the literature you receive includes fees. If they are not clear, then clarify this at the initial meeting.
  • Confirm whether the care fees listed are the total amount, whether they increase on a year-by-year basis, and if so, by how much.
  • Check whether your loved one is entitled to state benefits or funding to support paying for the care.
  • Explore whether the home has care fee payment options, and if so, which one works for you.
The personal care plan

Every good care home should produce a comprehensive individual care plan detailing everything about the resident, from care to dietary needs.

  • Check the care home will produce a personal care plan and ensure you are involved in the compilation of this.
  • Give the care home as much information as possible, as this is incredibly valuable to ensure care is tailored to your loved one’s needs.
Life at the care home

The role of a care home should not just be to provide great care. It should be about creating new memories, having lots of fun and making friends for life.

  • Find out whether the home has a varied activities programme
  • Check how the care home settles new residents in and helps them to get to know fellow residents
  • Make sure the home has access with the outside world, like regular outings or links with the local community.
Family life

Family time should be part and parcel of any care home. Considering you will be spending a great deal of time there, you need to ensure there are provisions made to do so.

  • Check there aren’t specific visiting times.
  • Check how families are integrated into the home.
  • Make sure there are designated spaces, so if and when you want to spend some private time with your loved one, you can do so.
The right home

Now is the time to take your loved one and family to the shortlisted homes, before making a decision on the best one.

  • Narrow down the homes to the one or two you are really happy with.
  • Go with your gut instinct – you will know when the home is the right one.
  • Once you’ve decided on the one, visit them again and at different times of the day.
  • Sample the menu.
Moving home

Once you’ve chosen the right care home, then comes the preparation to move your loved one out of their home and into the new one.

  • Find out from the care home what belongings can be accommodated and make preparations to organise this.
  • Work closely with the home to help your loved one settle into their new surroundings.
  • Make sure personal mementoes and prized possessions are integrated into the new environment.