Choosing the right care home for a loved one

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Choosing a care home is huge step and you need to be sure your parent or partner will be comfortable, happy and well looked after. But where do you start? This check list of questions will help you to get the answers you need and make the right choice of care home.

Care homes are mainly for elderly people who can no longer live independently in their own homes. There may be a number of personal and health reasons why moving into a care home should be considered including needing increasing help with day-to-day tasks, easing damaging strains on the family, chronic ill health, frailty and confusion.

Choosing a care home

There are over 21,000 care homes in the UK. To select the appropriate care home, create a shortlist - three or four - and visit them to answer the following questions:

  • Is the location convenient - can family and friends get to it easily?
  • What are the times and rules for visitors?
  • Does the atmosphere, the temperature, the condition of the rooms, equipment and facilities give the right impression?
  • Are the staff friendly, efficient, calm, positive?
  • What specialist training do staff have, and how many of the current staff have had specialist training?
  • What is the home’s recruitment policy - staff on the payroll or agency staff, or if both, what ratio?
  • Is the home convenient for access to local amenities, such as shops, parks, social venues?
  • What are the common rooms like?
  • Does the home have adequate disabled access?
  • Do the residents seem happy and content?
  • Is security good?
  • Are there set bed times and getting up times?
  • What are the daily menus, and does the food seem of good quality and appropriate portions?
  • What times are meal times?
  • Can residents choose to eat together or in their room?
  • What are the daily routines, how are residents kept occupied and interested?
  • What outings and in-house events are organised and how frequently?
  • What personal belongings can be brought into the home?
  • What health services such as chiropody, podiatry are available?
  • How are medicines prescribed, administered and stored?
  • Is there a designated GP?
  • What is the procedure for hospital/medical visits?
  • Is the latest Care Quality Commission report available?
  • What is the complaints procedure?
  • What are the fees, and what do they include and exclude?
  • What are the possible extra costs?
  • Is there a deposit to pay?

Useful guides

Better Caring is a useful guide to over 21,500 care homes in the UK, and Directgov has advice on all aspects of care homes.
Age UK also provides useful information.

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