Please note that every individual's situation is unique. For advice tailored to your specific needs it is suggested that you speak to an Independent Care Adviser.

Remember the care home will be your home. It should promote your independence, privacy and choice, whilst providing the peace of mind of 24 hour care. Visitors should be welcome at any reasonable time of day.

You should visit several homes to see what they are like, but before you do, try to think about what your priorities are.


What level and type of care do you need?

Think about the things you need help with and see what advice your family, GP practice, hospital or Social Services have to offer. You may need Nursing Care rather than just Personal Care or you may have a Specialist Care requirement that not all homes can meet e.g. memory loss.

Where do you want the home to be?

You may want it to be as near as possible to your present home or there might be a good reason to move. Perhaps you would like to be closer to members of your family or in a favourite town or seaside resort. You might like there to be a bus stop, library, pub or shops nearby.

What facilities would you like?

You may prefer to have a choice of communal areas, pleasant grounds to walk in or a room with en suite toilet and sink or shower room. Depending upon how fit you are you might want to go on doing things you enjoy: some gardening, painting or playing the piano. You may wish to access the internet, either in your room or on a shared computer.

What level of fees can you afford?

Even if you can pay all the fees from your own resources, you could still be entitled to Financial Assistance from the Local Authority, NHS or Department for Work and Pensions. If you are comfortably off, you may have a wider choice of homes, but it is important to establish what may happen if private funds do run low.

Sources of Information

  • Ask Grace Consulting for advice and information
  • Approach Social Services for an assessment, advice and information
  • Search websites on the internet
  • Ask at the library or Citizens Advice Bureau
  • Ask at your local doctor's surgery

Make a shortlist

When you are ready to visit some homes, make a list of those you think might be suitable. It is a good idea to visit three or four at first, provided that they seem suitable and meet your care requirements.

If possible, phone and speak to the Matron or Manager. We would recommend making two visits: one, with an appointment made, so you know that the right person will be on hand to answer your questions when you visit and another ad hoc visit, in order that you can see the home as it is.

Looking around a home

How you are received and the way you are shown round can often give a good indication of how good the staff are. You should not be rushed and you should be given the opportunity see all parts of the home, including the bathrooms and kitchens. The home should be clean and free of unpleasant odours.

Look for respectful interaction between the staff and residents, and consider whether the residents look well cared for.

Do you have confidence in the Home Manager or Matron who you spoke to?

A lot of information may be given, but you are likely to have some questions. Again, remember you are the customer. When you ask questions you should feel satisfied with the answers.

We suggest some basic questions below. Add your own questions too. As you look around you may see some of the answers yourself, but, if not, never be reluctant to ask.

Questions to Ask


  • Is care available day and night?
  • Does the home provide nursing care?
  • If so, how many registered nurses are on duty at any one time?
  • Does the home specialise in a particular category of care, e.g. dementia?
  • Are bed times and other personal routines flexible?
  • How frequently are baths and showers offered?
  • Is there a policy on when incontinence pads are used and how these are charged for?


  • Is it necessary to register with a different GP?
  • Can physiotherapy be arranged?
  • Do a chiropodist and dentist come to the home?

My Room

  • Would it be single or shared and if shared, with whom?
  • Can the room be personalised with own belongings and smaller items of furniture?
  • Can the colour scheme, curtains and bedding be individualised?
  • Can a move to an alternative room be arranged if later required?
  • Can a telephone line be arranged?
  • Is a television provided?

Activities and Stimulation

  • Does the home employ an Activities Coordinator?
  • What activities are arranged?
  • How are individual hobbies supported?
  • Can activities be arranged on a one to one basis?


  • How much are the fees?
  • Are there any extra charges not included in the basic fees?
  • Is an advance payment or deposit required?
  • How are fees calculated and how frequently is this reviewed?
  • What happens if a decision is made not to stay?
  • What happens if my financial circumstances change?
  • Is the room reserved in the event of a hospital admission?
  • What are the notice conditions in the contract?
  • How are fees collected?
  • What arrangements are there for handling personal money?


  • What facilities are there when family and friends visit?
  • Is there an open visiting policy?
  • Can visitors eat with me?


  • Which floor is the available room on?
  • Is there a shaft lift to access all floors?
  • If not, is there a stairlift?


  • What is the food like?
  • Is it freshly cooked on the premises?
  • Is there a choice?
  • Are special diets catered for?
  • Can meals and drinks be provided in the bedrooms?
  • Is there a kitchenette where snacks and drinks can be made by the residents or their visitors?

The People Living There

  • What are the people who live in the home like?
  • Is there an opportunity to speak to other residents or their families before admission to the home is confirmed?
  • Are the other residents all of similar mental and/or physical ability?

The Staff

  • What qualifications do the care staff have and how are they trained?
  • Is there a manager on duty at all times?
  • What is the turnover of staff?
  • Are agency staff used?
  • How many staff are employed per resident?


  • Are toilets and bathrooms situated conveniently?
  • Is there a choice of communal areas and areas for privacy?
  • Is there a garden?
  • Is there access to the internet?


  • Are pets allowed?


  • Can the bedrooms be locked when unoccupied?
  • Is there a safe for valuables?

Registration and Reviews

  • Is the home properly registered? The registration certificate should be displayed near the entrance.
  • Is a copy of the most recent inspection report available to read?

For clients living with memory and cognitive impairment the answers to the following additional questions may also be helpful:

  • How have the home and garden been designed or adapted to safely meet the needs of residents with memory impairment?
  • Do the Manager and staff have knowledge of dementia and are they able to deal with different degrees of dementia?
  • If a resident's needs increase, can he or she be supported to stay in the home through to end of life?

Call Grace Consulting on 01483 203066 for further information


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