We have produced the following questions as a helpful guide to choosing a suitable care home. Always question the person in charge, look for evidence of what you have been told. Inspect the bedrooms, living rooms, toilets and bathrooms. Talk to other residents or their relatives if possible.

The Building and First Impressions

  • Are the buildings and grounds well maintained?
  • Is there an accessible garden or courtyard?
  • Do the home and garden feel inviting?
  • Are there pleasant views surrounding the home?
  • Do the staff seem welcoming?
  • Are the rooms a comfortable temperature?
  • Are the rooms well decorated?
  • Is the home well maintained, clean and fresh smelling?
  • Are the toilets and bathrooms accessible and fitted with adaptations for individual disability.
  • Is there a telephone facility to make or receive private calls?
  • Is it the sort of home I could live in?

Things to Consider

  • Is there a warm and friendly atmosphere?
  • Do service users in the home appear happy, contented and active?
  • What possessions can I take with me?
  • Are there any facilities to keep my valuables safe?
  • Can I visit my relative privately?
  • Can residents choose their routine, such as when they get up and go to bed?
  • What social activities are there?
  • What arrangements are made for religious and/or cultural needs?
  • How are my affairs kept confidential?
  • What security arrangements are in place to make sure residents are safe
  • Is there a resident’s call-bell system?
  • Can residents choose what they wear?
  • Can staff ensure that clothes don’t get mixed up between residents?
  • Can residents bring their own furniture and belongings?
  • Is there secure storage in the bedrooms?
  • Are there arrangements for handling personal money?
  • Would you have to share a bathroom or bedroom?
  • Can residents choose whether they have a bath or shower and how often?
  • Is there a mix of female and male residents?

Having visitors

  • Are there any restrictions on visiting times or numbers of visitors?
  • Are there facilities for visitors to stay overnight?
  • Are young children welcome?
  • Is there a space for residents to spend time with visitors?
  • Are visitors able to visit during meal times and can they have meals with residents?

 Staffing Arrangements

  • How many trained staff, care assistants and ancillary staff are on during each shift?
  • Is there a suitable ratio of staff to residents during the day, at night and at weekends?Is there a manager in post and a senior member of staff on duty at all times?
  • Do the staff get to know about residents’ lives and experiences?
  • Are the staff welcoming, friendly and interested?
  • How long have the staff worked there?
  • Are they experienced in caring for older people?
  • Is there evidence of training programmes?
  • Do the staff have care qualifications?
  • Are all staff trained in caring for residents with dementia?
  • Are the care assistants employed to look after the personal needs of the client, or do they undertake other duties?
  • What levels of care are available?
  • Does the home have a philosophy of care?

Meeting care needs

  • Does the home assess new residents’ situations and needs before agreeing to accept them?
  • Do residents have a named member of staff who is particularly responsible for their care?
  • Are residents and their families involved in decisions about their care?
  • Do residents seem to have a similar level of needs as you?
  • If your needs change or increase, can they still be met in the same home?
  • Do the bathroom facilities meet your needs?
  • Are accessible toilets available in all parts of the home and easy to get to?
  • Are residents helped to the toilet, if needed?
  • Do toilets have handrails, raised toilet seats and mobility aids?
  • Does the home link with a specific GP practice for residents?
  • Do health staff such as opticians and chiropodists visit regularly?
  • Who decides when a health check-up is needed?
  • Are there travel arrangements for regular hospital and clinic visits and do staff accompany residents, and is there a charge for this?
  • How does the home support those with sensory impairments or dementia?
  • How does the home let family or friends know if a resident is taken ill?
  • Can the home offer support for end-of-life care?

Medical Matters

  • If I need attention what is the procedure?
  • Can I keep my own GP?
  • What arrangements are made concerning visits from the dentist, optician, or hearing specialist?
  • Is physiotherapy and occupational therapy available?
  • if I need to go into hospital will my bed be kept open?
  • Will the care staff consult me regarding treatment?
  • How are standards of care maintained?
  • What equipment is available for my needs, e.g. Beside rails, pressure relieving mattresses, and nebulisers, etc.?
  • Does the home have all the facilities to meet my changing medical needs?

Social activities

  • Are residents encouraged to stay active and do as much as they can for themselves?
  • Who is responsible for arranging activities?
  • Do residents seem happy and occupied?
  • Are there lounges or social areas with furniture arranged to allow small groups to socialise?
  • Are staff sitting and chatting with the residents?
  • Would you feel comfortable socialising in the home’s common areas?
  • Do staff read to those with sight impairment?
  • Does the home have its own pets, or can residents bring their own pets?
  • Are there facilities such as: a radio, reading room, TV room, newspapers, books or a mobile library, public phone, shared computers, internet reception and hairdressing services?
  • Are there regular social activities such as: music or singing, reminiscence groups, exercise classes, gardening, celebrations for special occasions and visits from entertainers, and outings to shops, entertainment venues or places of worship?

Meals

  • What time are they served?
  • Are the menus interesting and balanced?
  • How often does the menu change?
  • Is there a choice of food and can you see sample menus?
  • Can the home meet your dietary needs?
  • Do residents usually eat together, or can they choose to eat in their rooms?
  • Are snacks available during the day or at night?
  • Is food prepared on the premises?

Financial Arrangements

  • What are the fees and what does this include?
  • Is it clear how the fees are structured, calculated and collected?
  • Are any fees payable after a resident’s death?
  • Is a deposit or advance payment required?
  • Are fees reviewed each year?
  • Are there any extra charges for laundry, chiropody, hairdressing, incontinence products etc.?
  • What is the difference between local authority funding and the fees?
  • How are the payments to be made?
  • Who will administer my money and fees?
  • Will I be able to keep my banking arrangements confidential?
  • How often are rates of payment reviewed?
  • What insurance is in effect?
  • Do I need a policy to cover my belongings?

Contracts

  • Can you see a copy of the home’s contract and terms and conditions?
  • Is there an agreed trial period following admission?
  • If I decide to leave, how much notice will I have to give?
  • In what circumstances could I be asked to leave? If so, how much notice would be given?
  • Are valuables covered by the home’s insurance?
  • What are the terms for keeping the room if you have to go into hospital?

Feedback and complaints

  • Are you encouraged to give feedback?
  • Is the complaints procedure readily available?
  • Are families encouraged to be involved in the life of the home?
  • Is the manager accessible and approachable?
  • Can staff explain the procedures if there are serious incidents, complaints or safeguarding concerns raised?
  • Is there a procedure for suggestions, comments and complaints?