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How we choose a care home?

Choosing a care home for someone you love is possibly one of the most difficult things you’ll ever face. Will they be happy? Will the staff treat them with the same care and compassion as you?

It’s an emotional time, and can easily be overwhelming. You need to take a deep breath before you make any lasting decisions. Talk to your loved one about their needs and wishes (if that’s possible) and make a list of what’s important to them. Find out about homes in the area, put together a short list and pay each one a visit. You’ll be surprised how different they are.

Have you had to look for a care home for your parent or a relative? How did you decide? Share your tips with members of the Forum.

Best wishes,

SimplyHealth Care for Life team

3 Replies

My mother is in a care home. Before she went in, we looked at all the homes in the area and chose the few we thought were best. Unfortunately she had to go in at very short notice so it was more a case of finding one with a spare room. Luckily she has been contented there but beware - the management that you see when you visit may not be there long, a change of manager could mean standards change. We had this problem and once an elderly person is settled it is difficult to move them. Luckily a further change has improved things for us. Also be aware of costs - her home was already one of the most expensive in the area. After 6 months the fees went up by 6%, a year later another 6% and this year a further 8.5%. Do make sure that you are going to be able to finance the home in the future in case they need care for longer than expected.

When you visit, don't make an appointment (but be sensible and don't go during a mealtime), just go in and see what things are like when they aren't expecting anyone. Do the people look clean and well cared for - nails trimmed, hair cut and things like that mean that they are taken care of. Are call bells ringing for ages without being attended to. Have a look at the list of activities (and check that they actually take place, often the list is just for show). Do they have outings, how often and does everyone get a chance to go? Look at the menu, is it varied and do the residents say they enjoy the food. Is the structure of the home good, decent decoration, tidy grounds, etc.

All these things will help you decide if it is the sort of place you want to leave your loved one.


I didn't have to choose a care home for my husband because I put off doing it for so long that our home hospice team did it for me and brought me the paperwork to sign. I trusted the team members, so I signed to have my husband transported to the only nursing home in our area that would take Medicaid Pending and had an available bed. It was an excellent place, and I wished I had done it sooner. My tip is learn what Medicaid Pending is and find out if the patient will be eligible to enter the nursing home under that arrangement, or whether the patient has sufficient assets to self-pay.


I agree with the points made below. There are many things to think about.

My starting point is talk to family and friends in the area. You'll be surprised how many people will have some experience or knowledge of a home or even know staff who have worked in them.

Look at the Care Quality Commission (CQC) website to review ratings and when last inspected.

Look for reviews and check dates on them.

It is true a change in management can have a positive or negative impact. I recently visited a home for a client and was pleasantly surprised at how much it had improved from when I saw it last year, when I wouldn't consider it at all.

You do need to visit yourself and not just takes everyone's word. This is a personal thing and we all want and need something different.

Think about the environmental the person is coming from. What is their home like is it large, spacious or cosy?

It's hard moving someone into a home that looks like a 5 star hotel but that not something they feel comfortable with.

The ultimate - how do you feel when leaving and closing the front door? Would you be happy (as you can be under the circumstances) leaving your loved one there ?


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