CARE: Choosing a care home

The excellent Independent Age website has a very useful series of guides to choosing a care home. Particularly useful is their “Choosing a care home checklist”

You can download their checklist and use it when you visit a care home. It doesn’t cover everything and you don’t have to answer all the questions. It is designed to help you remember what you want to ask and to record your impressions.

If you’re looking at a care home for a relative, try to put yourself in their shoes and think about what would make a good home for them.

Where to start

A lot depends on what care you need – now and in the future – and what you can afford but you should also be guided by what matters to you. You will probably want to know:

  • how you will settle in
  • whether it will feel like home
  • what will happen if your circumstances change.

It’s a good idea to draw up a list of things that are important to you and how you want to live and divide it into:

  • essential
  • desirable

You may be worried about losing control and independence and you will probably have to make some compromises.  But the clearer you are about your wishes at this stage, the more chance there is of achieving them.

Before you go

There are some things you can find out before you go, such as:

  • the names of the manager and key staff
  • fees and additional costs
  • if they have places available
  • their Care Quality Commission rating.

When you visit

There will be a lot to take in when you visit, which is why it’s a good idea to have a checklist. If possible, go with someone. They can give you moral support, make notes and give you a second opinion.

The sort of things you will be considering include:

  • the location and facilities
  • your room
  • social activities and entertainment
  • the staff
  • whether the home can cater for any special requirements, both now and in the future, such as dementia care.


If you like the care home you will want to find out more about:

  • fees
  • any extra costs, for services such as hairdressing, chiropody
  • insurance
  • contracts
  • complaints procedures

What if you forget something?

Don’t be afraid to call and ask follow up questions or go back and drop in unannounced. A good care home will welcome you and be prepared to answer all your questions.

Related info on the Independent Age website – How to find the right care home

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