Like choosing any home, choosing a care home is a big decision. People often find themselves doing this in a hurry when there’s a health crisis, but it’s a good idea to think about what you’d like sooner rather than later and discuss this with your family or friends.
Call our Helpline for urgent advice
If you're under pressure to find a care home quickly, call our free Helpline on 0800 319 6789 to arrange to speak to an adviser.
Where to start
You should start by having a care needs assessment. This will give you more information about the care you need, and help you think about what support would be best for you. See Getting a care needs assessment for more information.
You can also download or order our free guide How to find the right care home. It can help you understand where to start and what to consider if you're choosing a care home for yourself or a relative.
Choosing a care home to suit your care needs
There are various types of care home available, depending on the level and type of care you need. The outcome of your care needs assessment should give you an idea of which one would be right for you. If you’re moving as a couple, it can be more difficult to find a home to cater for both your needs.
Residential care homes
These offer personal care, including help with washing, eating and drinking, going to the toilet and taking medication.
Care homes with nursing care
These offer personal care, but also have qualified nurses on duty at all times. They may specialise in particular illnesses or disabilities, such as dementia.
Care homes offering some residential and some nursing care places
These might be a good option if, for example, your condition is likely to deteriorate and you don’t want to move twice.
Deciding your priorities
This will be your new home, so it’s important to think about how you want to live. You might have to compromise, so consider your priorities in advance:
- Location – Do you want to stay locally, to be close to family or friends, and in an area you know and like? Do you want to be in the city centre or countryside? How important are good transport links?
- Cost – How much can you afford to spend?
- Living space – Do you want to be in a large home or a small one? Do you want to be able to take some of your own furniture? Would you want your own bathroom? Is there a garden?
- Independence – Will you be able to make decisions about your own routine, such as when you get up and go to bed? Will you be able to make your own food or drinks when you want to?
- Visitors – Do you want visitors to be able to come and see you whenever they like?
- Cultural or religious requirements – Can all your cultural needs be accommodated? Do any staff members speak your first language?
- Access to healthcare – How easy is it to see a GP? Is there mental health support available?
- Pets – Do you need a home that accepts pets?
- Entertainment and socialising – Do you want outings and social activities to be available? What sort?
- Food – Can they cater for certain dietary needs? Do you want to be able to take certain meals in your own room rather than in a communal dining room?
Take a look
It’s always best to go and visit before moving in. Talk to staff and residents, and ask lots of questions. Take a list of your priorities and things you want to know more about. See our guide How to find the right care home for more information and a list of questions you might want to ask.
You might want to use our Care home checklist to help you make notes and remember what to look for when you visit a care home.
Where to look
Social services should be able to provide a list of homes. If your council is paying some of your care costs, keep in mind that not all the homes on the list may be at the council’s standard rate. There are also organisations that have online directories of care homes, such as carehome.co.uk. You can use these to search for one near you.
There are organisations in charge of regulating care homes. These organisations regularly inspect care homes to check whether they meet government standards. You can search for local care homes on their websites and check how they've been rated.
- In England, this is the Care Quality Commission (CQC) (03000 616161, cqc.org.uk/care-services/find-care-home).
- In Scotland, this is the Care Inspectorate (0345 600 9527, careinspectorate.com/index.php/careservices).
- In Wales, this is the Care Inspectorate Wales (0300 7900 126, careinspectorate.wales/find-care-service).
Also of interest
Also in this section
Call our free Helpline on 0800 319 6789
By calling Independent Age's free and impartial Helpline, you can get information and advice from one of our friendly advisers, or order our free guides.