Choosing a Care Home
Caring for people

Your Guide to Choosing a Care Home

If you, or a relative is looking to find residential care it can be a very challenging and stressful process. From practical considerations such as the care services they can provide to the less tangible (but equally important) factors such as the ‘feel of the home, the attitude of the staff and the ethos of the organisation, it all needs considering and can be very daunting.

For that reason we have put together this guide which gives you practical advice and handy tips to help you make this very important decision.


First of all you need to see what is available in your local area. Search the internet, look at local papers, ask your GP, drive around the area and ask people who may have relatives already in a care home.

You should look at their websites, maybe request a brochure, but do pay them a visit as nothing can replace a first-hand experience of the environment. Don’t forget to factor in things like the location, do you or a relative want a quiet rural location or something a bit more in the centre of things. How easy are the transport links for those all important trips out and also allowing easy access for visitors?


Shortlist the homes and arrange a visit and meeting with the Home Manager. Different homes provide different care services so make sure they can provide the care you or a relative require such as dementia care or nursing care.

Make sure you have a list of questions you want to ask and don’t be afraid to go through them and make sure any specific concerns you have are addressed.

If you are looking on behalf of your loved one, it would be wise to do this initial visit without them to make sure you are happy with the first impressions before they visit. It will be a very emotional time for them, so sparing them show-arounds in places that are not appropriate is wise.

Day to day life

This will be the new home for you or a loved one, so make sure you understand and are happy with the details of everyday living in the environment.

Think about what is important for you and make sure you ask plenty of questions about these areas. For example, can you bring your own furniture? Can you choose to dine in your own room? Do they have access to the internet? Can you keep up your hobbies and interests?

It may be helpful to complete a checklist. We have created one for you to download here.

One thing that often gets overlooked is to consider how the family will integrate into the home. Considering they will be spending a great deal of time there, you need to make sure you are happy with any arrangements such as visiting times and what provisions there are for family members to take part in daily life such as meals, or if there are places where residents and their families can spend private time.

Visit the homes

Once you have a shortlist, now is the time to visit the home with your loved one. You shouldn’t decide on just one visit. Much like when looking at a house to buy, go back at a different times of the day and try and spend some time in the home. Ask if they will allow a trial visit so you can get a real feel for what it will be like as a home and give yourself the chance to talk to other residents, sample the food and maybe take part in some of the activities.