Care advice


Choosing the right care home or senior village for yourself or a loved one can be a daunting prospect. Asking the questions below will help you discover the perfect place.

Is the location right?

Think carefully about who will be visiting and how long it will take them to travel. Are there good public transport links? Can residents easily reach a bus stop or does the home have a car service they can use?

What are the findings of the CQC report?

The Care Quality Commission assesses every care home and produces a report. There won’t be a report for new homes so assess whether the management company is well established and ask about the experience and registration of the care manager and their staff.

Can a trial stay be arranged?

Spending time at a care home is a great way to see if it is right for you. A temporary stay for respite care may be an option. Ask whether you can terminate a contract at short-notice within the first month if the home is not right.

What levels of additional care are available?

Is the home registered for residential, nursing or dementia care – or a combination? Many people like to know that additional help will be available if they ever need it.

Are the grounds fully accessible to residents?

Getting into the garden is good for body and mind. Is it easy to access the grounds and are they well looked after? Can residents get involved in gardening? Do any rooms have their own patios?

What activities are on offer?

Most care homes will have a long list of activities, but it’s worth asking for details about what they involve. Are the activities carefully designed and fully resourced by trained staff? Is there a good variety? What about outside visits? Are there dedicated facilities for activities and pastimes? What about a hairdresser, gym or therapy room?

What’s the food like?

Presentation, choice and nutrition are key elements when it comes to catering. Ask to have a meal in the home you are considering and find out what flexibility there is when it comes to meal times. What special arrangements are made for people who have special dietary requirements or need additional support? How do staff ensure that all residents are eating well?

Who will be in charge of the care?

The Care Services Manager is normally the person at the heart of a care home. Spend time with him or her. Find out what they are responsible for and how much of their job is taken up with business management rather than care. Ask about their experience and meet as many staff members as possible.

Is the care affordable?

Many people worry what might happen if they run out of money to fund their care. A good care home will be able to advise you on this and explain whether there may be benefits available if funding becomes an issue.

Is it the right community for you or a loved one?

The only real way to answer this question is to spend time in the home. Ask to visit at different times of the day, to bring friends or family, to pop in for a meal and chat with other residents. This is a big decision – so take your time.

How much independence do residents have?

To what degree can residents come and go? Do they have their own key? Are there any forms of technology such as personal alarms that allow independence while ensuring safety? Are there set times for visitors? A good care home will always encourage mobility and independence.

Is there an inclusive approach?

Modern care homes involve residents in their management. That may mean having input on catering arrangements and activity planning or being involved in the interview process for new staff. Find out whether friends and family are included. Is there a children’s room and do family members get involved in activities?

All these questions will help you decide on the right care home for yourself or a family member. Above all, ask yourself whether the home takes a person-centred approach that considers each individual’s needs and wants.