Choosing a care home

Your needs assessment may have recommended that care is provided in a care home; for some people, it is a decision they have come to themselves.

Choosing the care home is important: it should suit your individual physical and emotional needs.

If the local authority is going to help with your fees, you can still choose the care home as long as it provides suitable care for your needs, there are rooms available, the authority can agree a contract with the home for the care you need, and the cost is not more than the authority would normally pay for someone with similar needs.

If you are paying for your own fees you will have to agree your own contract with the care home.

It is important where possible for you, a friend or a relative to visit a number of care homes to help you decide the right one for you.

A care home checklist can help you decide and prioritise which factors are most important to you. For example:


  • Is the home in a location that is close to the shops?
  • Are there public transport links for you and your family?
  • Is there a lot of noise from traffic?
  • Is there an area or garden for you to sit outside in the summer?


  • How were you greeted when you arrived?
  • Is it clean and well presented?
  • Did it feel homely?


  • Is the manager passionate about the care provided?
  • Are the staff friendly and supportive?
  • If you suffer from a form of dementia, are the staff experienced and trained in caring for such people's needs?
  • Do they treat the residents as individuals and try to understand their likes, dislikes and interests?
  • Do they respect the residents' dignity and privacy?


  • Is there a choice of meals available?
  • Do they cater for residents' different dietary needs and their likes and dislikes?
  • Can you have a cup of tea or coffee when you want one?
  • Will the staff help you eat your food if this is needed?


  • Is there a range of activities that are varied and engaging?
  • Do they have a delegated member of staff who has responsibility for arranging activities?
  • Are the residents encouraged to exercise to aid mobility?


  • What is the procedure when residents are unwell?
  • Which surgery is the care home registered under?
  • Can the staff help with the taking of medication?
  • Are the relatives notified, when would they be allowed to come and for how long could they stay?


  • Some homes welcome visitors at all times, others have specific visitor times
  • Are there facilities for relatives to stay overnight?
  • Are children permitted to visit
  • Can visitors have a cup of tea or coffee and are they encouraged to feel at home?

Your room

  • Do you have an en-suite bathroom or do you have to share?
  • Can you have your own phone?
  • Can you have some of your own furniture, ornaments and pictures?
  • Is there a safe place to put any valuables?

Your contract

If the home is being arranged through the local authority, then the authority will have a contract with the home.

If you are arranging a care home independently of the local authority you should have a contract with the home or a statement in writing.

If you are asked to sign a contract you should make sure you are happy with what you are signing and if in any doubt, seek advice from a solicitor or suitable organisation such as Age Concern or the Citizens Advice Bureau.

You should understand and be clear about:

  • The weekly fee and what it covers
  • What extras residents pay for or are expected to pay for
  • What happens if a resident's health deteriorates: can they stay in the home, will the home be able to provide for this? How much notice are the residents required to give if they are moving out?