Many people have to make a decision about a care home in a crisis, perhaps after a fall or illness, or the death of a carer.

Looking back they often wish they’d had longer to look around. So if you think you or a relative might need a care home in the future, it’s a good idea to do some planning now, so that you’ll know what to do should the need arise.

Browse information on choosing a care home by clicking on the boxes below.

To decide which homes to visit, it may be useful to speak to:

  • friends and relatives, for their recommendations
  • your GP
  • your local Social Services department, which should be able to provide a list of registered homes in your area

Choosing care for a relative can be a difficult and emotional decision please contact one of our managers for a confidential chat to see how we can help.

You may also find it useful to look at inspection reports for individual homes which are produced independently by:
The Care Quality Commission – www.cqc.org.uk

In many ways, choosing a care home is like choosing any other place to live – within a few seconds you know whether it ‘feels right’. To help ensure you pick the right home, we have made a list of some questions which you should find answers to when visiting all Care Homes.

Can the home offer care suitable for your needs?
How often will your care needs be reviewed?
Will the home be able to provide any future care needs?
Will you/your relatives be involved in making decisions about the care?
Which doctor can a resident see?
Are there visiting dentists and opticians?
How often does the hairdresser visit the home?
Can the home provide other services such as chiropody, physiotherapy and occupational therapy, if required?
Does the home have suitable assisted bathing facilities?
Can residents get up and go to bed when they want to?
Will relatives be advised as soon as a resident is taken ill?

Communal areas
Is there more than one room where residents can sit or see visitors?
Is there a quiet lounge without a television?
Are there safe outdoor areas?
Is there easy access for wheelchairs and walking frames?
Are there toilets within easy reach of all parts of the home?
Are there handrails in the toilets and corridors?

Did you see the room that is available?
Can residents bring their own possessions and furniture?
Was it bright and well decorated?
Are en-suite facilities available?
Do bedrooms have a television point?
Do bedrooms have a telephone point?
Can residents lock their room?
Is there a lockable drawer or cabinet in the room?
Does each room have a call system?
Can you change rooms if you want to?

Can residents eat when they want to?
Can meals be taken in a resident’s bedroom?
Is there a choice of menu for each meal?
Can special diets be catered for?
Are snacks available at all times?
Are copies of current menus available for you to look at?
Are the menus rotated?
Does the chef consult the residents on their preferences?
Can residents choose who they sit with in the dining room?
Can relatives and friends have a meal with you?
For residents who need help with eating, are staff trained to do this sensitively?

Is there a weekly plan of activities?
Did you see an example?
Are residents consulted on what hobbies/interests they have?
Are special events, eg birthdays celebrated in the home?
What form of exercise, if any, are residents encouraged to take?
Does the home take residents on trips outside the home?
Are daily newspapers available for residents?
Can residents be taken to places of worship?
Can residents take part in the daily activities within the home, if they wish, eg cleaning, gardening, cooking?
Can relatives/friends help with activities?
Did you see any photographs of activities in the home?

Did you observe staff being friendly and caring towards residents?
Do staff look as though they’ve got time to spend with residents?
What training do staff receive?
How do staff get to know about a new resident’s background, likes, dislikes?
Did you feel that individual needs and preferences could be met by the home when you visited?

Are there set visiting times or are visitors welcome at all times?
Can children visit?

Was the home’s statement of purpose made available?
Was the latest home’s inspection report available?
Is there a waiting list?
Is there a complaints procedure?
What’s included in the weekly fee?
What’s charged as ‘extras’?

If you’ll be paying all the care home’s fees, you can contact homes directly yourself. Once you have found a home you like, the home will make an assessment of your needs, so that they can be sure they can offer you the right kind of care.If you will be asking the local authority to help with all or part of the fees, you should speak first to your GP and your local Social Services department. They will carry out an assessment of your needs, and produce a report called a care plan that outlines the care, including any nursing care, they think you need.
Many people think that care homes in the independent sector are only for the wealthy. You may be surprised to know that the majority of care homes in the UK are owned by the independent sector, and that 70 per cent of residents have their fees paid partly or wholly by their local authority.If you are paying all the fees yourself, you can choose whichever home you find suitable for your needs.If your local authority is assisting with funding, it doesn’t mean you have to choose one of their homes. You can request any home that accepts residents funded by the local authority. However, the local authority will want to be sure that the home is suitable for your needs and doesn’t cost more than it would usually pay for that type of care. If you want a more expensive home than the authority is willing to pay for, you are allowed to ‘top up’ their contribution from another source.
There was a time when we thought the state would look after us ‘from cradle to grave’. These days, the state still provides a level of care for the least well off. But if the state thinks you can afford to pay, you will have to pay at least some of the costs of accommodation and personal costs in a residential nursing home.Briefly, there are three bands of support:

  • 1. Your local authority may pay for the cost of your residential or nursing home care if your capital is less than:England – £13,500
    Wales – £19,000
    Scotland – £13,000
  • 2. Your local authority will still pay for your accommodation and personal care, but not fully, if your capital is between:England – £13,500 – £22,250
    Wales – £19,000 – £22,000
    Scotland – £13,000 – £21,500For every £250 you have over the lower amount, they will subtract £1 per week from the money they contribute.
  • 3. You will have to pay the full costs of your accommodation and personal care if your capital is over:England – £22,250
    Wales – £22,000
    Scotland – £21,500If your capital falls below the upper amount while you are in a care home, you will become eligible for help from the local authority.If you want a more expensive home than the authority is willing to pay for, you are allowed to arrange a ‘third party contribution’ from another source.

Your home would be included in your assets only if you live alone, or you are both moving into a care home. In addition, the local authority will disregard the value of your home for 12 weeks after your admission to permanent nursing or residential care.

You will be expected to use all your income – including your pension, benefits, and so on – to fund your care. However, you can keep £21.15 (£20.00 in Wales) a week personal allowance.

There are primarily two types of Homes. Those which provide mainly personal care (previously called residential homes) and those which also provide nursing care.People who can no longer cope with their day to day activities alone in their own home, even with a carer or outside help need the support offered and personnel care of a Care Home including accommodation, personal care (such as help with bathing and dressing) and meals.People whose infirmity, illness or injury require nursing care on a regular basis, which cannot be provided for them at home by the District Nursing Services, also need a Care Home (these used to be called Nursing Homes). This sort of care, the law says, can only be provided by a Qualified Nurse or under the direct supervision of a Nurse.Nursing care generally requires higher fees than personal care because of this care being by Qualified Nurses, on top of the personal care, accommodation and meals.

In addition, for those elderly people who are mentally infirm with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, some homes are classed as ‘Dementia’ Care Homes.

It is important to make sure that the home you choose is the right kind for your needs, both now and in the future.

Yes they are. The purpose of registration and inspection is to guarantee the standard of care you are entitled to receive. In order to be registered, a home has to comply with the law and also with the registering Authority’s own guidelines. These specify the high standards required, for example the room sizes, number of bathrooms and toilets, staffing levels, food, services and facilities, fire safety and records to be kept.Each home is regularly inspected. All Homes are required by law to display their Care Quality Commission reports in the reception areas. For further information please go to www.cqc.org.uk
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