Choosing the right care home

Choosing a care home is all about finding the right care in the right place. Choosing is very personal and incredibly important residents’ long term health, safety, comfort and well-being.
Staff, location, facilities, services and atmosphere are what make each of our homes unique. The best way to find out which home has the correct combination for you is by looking around, talking to staff and asking lots of questions.
It is advisable to visit several homes before making your final choice. Our homes have an open door policy and are happy for you to visit at anytime. It is important, however, to ensure you meet with the home manager, so we would encourage you to contact the home in advance to make an appointment.

There are many things to consider when choosing a home and it is imperative that you concentrate on the areas that you feel are most vital to your well-being. The questions below are designed to help you as you look around a potential new home. Personally however they can be summarised into how does it look, feel, sound and smell.


First Impressions

  • What are your first impressions of the home as you arrive?
  • Is the outside area well kept and tidy with flowers, hanging baskets or pots?
  • Is the home and reception area welcoming when you first enter?
  • Is the home odour free?
  • Is the home clean and well maintained?
  • Are staff friendly and welcoming?

The location

  • Is the home in the right location for you?
  • Can relatives and friends easily visit?
  • Is the home easily accessible by public transport?
  • Is there a car park for you to use?

The Atmosphere

  • Does the atmosphere feel right?
  • Do the staff acknowledge you?
  • Are you offered a trial stay e.g. to visit for lunch or to spend an afternoon at the home?
  • Is there evidence of independence being maintained where possible?
  • Is everyone’s dignity and privacy being respected?
  • Are relatives and friends encouraged to visit?
  • Does the home feel homely?
  • Are you encouraged to talk with residents/visiting relatives/staff?

The Bedroom

  • Are you able to look at an available bedroom?
  • Is the bedroom clean and bright?
  • Are bedrooms redecorated before new residents arrive?
  • Does the bedroom have ensuite facilities or is there a toilet nearby
  • What furniture is provided by the home?
  • Are residents encouraged to bring some of their own possessions?
  • Does each room have a nurse call system?
  • Can residents change rooms if they want to?

The Facilities

  • Does the home have suitable facilities for your needs?
  • Is there a variety of Living Spaces e.g. – lounges, quiet rooms, dining room(s), outside sitting areas?
  • Does the home have a number of bathrooms with showers or specialist baths?
  • Is there a lift to any upper floors?
  • Does the home provide easy access for people in wheelchairs?
  • Are there handrails around the home?

The Care

  • Does the home provide the right type of care for your needs?
  • Can the home cope with any future changes in needs?
  • Are residents registered with the local GP Surgery / dentist / optician?
  • Are residents and relatives encouraged to contribute to review of resident’s care plan?
  • We encourage you to get feedback from health care professionals regarding the quality of care a home provides.

The Staff

  • What training do the staff receive?
  • What qualifications do the staff have?
  • What is the staffing ratio on each shift?
  • Does the Manager / Head of Department give you confidence?
  • Can the staff be seen around the home?
  • Do staff interact well with residents e.g. show respect, knowledge of the residents?
  • Do the residents seem occupied, interested, and happy?


  • Does the home have important equipment such as:
  • Hoists?
  • Wheelchairs?
  • Electrically operated beds?
  • Pressure relieving mattresses?
  • Pressure cushions?
  • Furniture suitable for older people?

Policies and Procedures

  • Does the home have written policies and procedures?
  • Is the home’s statement of purpose available?
  • Is there a welcome booklet for new residents?
  • Are quality audits carried out in the home?
  • Is there a resident group that meets regularly?
  • Did you see an example of a contract between the home and the resident?
  • Is it clear what is included in the fee and what items are extras?
  • Does the home make available their latest inspection report?


  • Is there a regular activities programme?
  • Are residents consulted on the activities programme?
  • How do staff find out about residents’ hobbies and interests?
  • Are there individual activities for people who are not able to join in group activities?
  • Are there any outings for residents?
  • Are external groups and entertainers invited to the home on a regular basis?
  • How are residents’ religious needs met?
  • Are special events such as anniversaries and birthdays celebrated by the home?
  • Are there regular exercise opportunities for residents?
  • Are relatives and friends encouraged to participate in activities?
  • Does the home display details and photographs of recent activities?

Dining Services

  • Is there a current menu on display?
  • Is there a choice of menu at all meal times?
  • Can residents choose the time they have their meals?
  • Can meals be taken in a resident’s room?
  • Are there snacks and drinks available at all times?
  • Is food freshly prepared in the kitchen?
  • Does the chef speak to the residents regularly to discuss their preferences?
  • Are special diets catered for?
  • Can family and friends join the resident for a meal?
  • How are residents who need help with eating assisted?
  • Does the home display details and photographs of recent activities?
  • Is there a current menu on display?