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Whether you're choosing a care home for yourself or a relative, our free guide How to find the right care home can help you understand where to start and what to consider. Download or order a copy now.

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Where to start

You should start by having a care needs assessment (see Getting a care needs assessment). This will give you more information about the care you need.

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

Offer personal care, including help with washing, eating and drinking, going to the toilet and taking medication.

Care homes with nursing care

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. For example:

  • Do you want to stay locally, to be close to family or friends, and in an area you know and like?
  • How much can you afford to spend?
  • Do you want to be able to take some of your own furniture? Would you want your own bathroom?
  • Do you want to be in the city centre or countryside? How important are good transport links?
  • Do you want visitors to be able to come and see you whenever they like? Do you need a home which accepts pets?
  • Do you want to be in a large home or a small one?
  • Do you want outings and social activities to be available? What sort?
  • 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 things to ask and your priorities. See our guide How to find the right care home for a list of questions you might want to ask.

Some organisations have online directories of care homes. Try CareHomeAdvisor to search for a care home near you.

Where to look

Social services should be able to provide a list of homes – if your council is paying some of your care costs, note that not all the homes on the list may be at the council’s standard rate.

Other places to look are:

The Care Quality Commission in England is the independent regulator of care homes; it regularly inspects them to check whether they meet government standards. There are other authorities that register care homes in the rest of Britain.

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