Like choosing any home, choosing a care home is a big decision. People sometimes make this decision in a hurry, but it’s a good idea to think about what you’d like sooner rather than later, and to discuss this with your family or friends.
Call our Helpline for urgent advice
If you're under pressure to find a care home quickly, contact our Helpline 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.
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 and also have qualified nurses on duty at all times. They may also specialise in specific illnesses or disabilities, such as dementia
Care homes offering some residential and some nursing care places – these might be a good option if you may need nursing care in the future and you don’t want to move more than once.
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 think about your priorities. Some things to consider include:
Location – Do you want to stay local, in an area you know and like? Are you planning to live near to friends or family? 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 and still do the things you want to do?
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 the care home accommodate all your cultural or religious needs? 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 visit any care home you're considering. Take a list of your priorities and things you want to know more about and speak to staff and residents. See our guide How to find the right care homefor 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.