GrownUpMoney understands that when you’re looking to find a care home, you want to be sure you find the best care home for you or your loved one’s needs.
Choosing a care home isn’t a quick-fire decision; you should be looking at care home reviews, directories, and registered care home websites to make an informed choice about where you or your loved one is going to live. If you’re still at this stage, check out our Care Home Guide, designed to help you find exactly what you’re looking for.
Already got a list of care homes to choose from? Once you’ve drawn up a short-list, contact the homes to arrange a visit and consider popping in unexpectedly as well, taking a relative or friend with you. Prepare some questions beforehand using the list below to help you so you don’t get side-tracked. This will enable you to make an informed decision when the times comes to move.
- Where is the care home and can others get to you quickly?
- Are there good transport links and local facilities such as shops, pubs, parks, places of worship, a doctor’s surgery, dentist and library etc?
- Is it easily accessible with parking facilities, is it easy to enter and leave, is there wheelchair access and a lift, how simple is it to move between floors and rooms?
- Is there a garden and smoking/non-smoking areas?
- Can you easily go outside or are the external doors locked?
- Are there any unpleasant smells, how warm or cold are the rooms and is there outside noise from traffic etc? Is there a nice atmosphere, is it clean and would you feel comfortable here? How do the other residents look – do they appear to be well-cared for?
- How are the chairs arranged – in groups for socialising or around the edge of the room?
- Is there one main social room or separate ones for reading etc?
- Is there a separate room for visitors and are visiting times and numbers restricted?
- Can visitors stay overnight and are young children welcome?
- Are the bedrooms a good size, will you have one to yourself and is there space to store things?
- Are there wash basins and en-suite facilities?
- Can you choose your room and are they available in sunny, shady or quiet areas?
- Are personal possessions and pets allowed?
- Can you wake up/go to bed when you choose and make choices about what you do in the day?
- Is there help with dressing and can you choose what to wear?
- Is there a communal phone and what’s the mobile signal like?
- How about computer use – is there a shared space with computers and internet access or can laptops be used in the bedrooms to go online?
- Are magazines, newspapers and books easily accessible and does a mobile library visit?
- Are outings regularly arranged and if so, how often, where to and are additional charges made for these?
- And what about physical activities for people, how do you encourage them to stay active?
- How do you promote events or activities held either in or outside the home?
- Is the home right for your culture or religion and do members of staff speak your language?
- Will your dietary needs be met and is there a choice of food which can be eaten when and where you choose?
- Are special diets catered for and can you prepare your own food?
- Can you try some of the food currently being served?
- Where is your complaints procedure information and are you encouraged to give feedback?
- Is there a residents committee and access to advocacy services?
How is care care provided?
- Is the home registered to provide the level of care you need and are residents’ needs similar to yours?
- Homes must not accept residents if they don’t have the staff or facilities to meet particular needs. How will the home accommodate your needs if they change?
- What are the bathing facilities like, are you offered help with this and do you have a choice over how often you bathe or shower?
- Where are the toilets, are they easily accessible in all areas, are there mobility aids and hand-rails and are you offered help if necessary?
- Can you continue using your own GP or does the home have access to one and other health services such as opticians, chiropodists, hearing specialists and dentists?
- Who co-ordinates GP appointments and how are family or friends alerted to illness?
- What’s the resident to staff ratio and how are staff trained, monitored and assessed?
- What are the staff retention levels and is there a manager on duty 24/7?
- If the home specialises in dementia care, ask what specialist training the staff have had, how they get to know the residents, how do they find out about their likes/dislikes, personalities, and routines and what activities are available?
Contracts and fees
- If you haven’t already, ask for a copy of the home’s brochure, plus recent inspection reports, its contract and terms and conditions.
- Find out about the fees, how they’re calculated, what they include (is NHS nursing costed separately) and the payment structure.
- How are fees collected, do self-funding and local authority-assisted residents pay the same and is a ‘top-up’ payment for state-funded residents required?
- Where and how are valuables and money kept secure?
- What are the notice conditions, are fees payable after death and how quickly is a bedroom cleared? What does the monthly fee include?
- It should cover all essential care, but may not include hairdressing or clothing. Community care services, such as district nursing will be included.
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