Choosing a Home

Choosing a Care Home for a loved one is one of the most important decisions you will make.

garden oacroft nursing homePeople often have to consider looking for a care home during a personal or family crisis such as a serious illness or fall requiring hospitalisation, or following the death of a husband or wife who was the main carer. Invariably this means that they have to find a home quickly and with insufficient time to research and carefully consider all of the available options. Take your time and do not be rushed into making a decision; return for further visits if you are unsure which home you should choose or to ask further questions.

Make arrangements to visit at least three care homes, if possible more than once before making any decisions. Observe what is going on in the home and talk to the residents. Watch interaction between the staff and clients. Meet the home manager, as they will be setting the standards by which the home runs.


The best indication of a good home is that the clients appear happy and responsive, and that individuals are treated with dignity and respect. The following points are considered to be indicators of quality care:

  • Do staff speak to clients in a way the clients like?
  • Are clients involved in activities or chatting?
  • Is there a happy atmosphere; Are the clients in communal lounges engaged in activities during your visit?
  • Look around to see if there is information or pictures of social events.
  • What activities does home offer for those clients who wish to remain in their rooms?
  • Are they properly dressed and well groomed?
  • Do they seem alert and interested?
  • Do they talk to you as you walk round?
  • Can clients go to their rooms when they wish to be alone?
  • Do staff respect people’s right to privacy, and knock on bedroom doors?
  • Do they have regular religious services?
  • Will friends or family be able to visit easily?
  • Is there a trial period?
  • What happens if a client’s condition deteriorates?

Building and Equipment

  • Is the home well presented in terms of cleanliness, tidiness, décor and furnishings?
  • Is the home free from unpleasant odours?
  • Are chairs arranged in groups to encourage talking?
  • Is there more than one room where clients can sit or where they can be quiet or see visitors?
  • Are the living areas bright and stimulating?
  • Is the garden accessible, user friendly for the elderly and safe?
  • If person has to use adaptations, are corridors & toilets wide enough for walking frame or wheelchair?
  • Are clients encouraged to bring in some of their own furniture and possessions?


  • Are special diets catered for, and are clients’ likes and dislikes taken into account?
  • Can clients eat in their rooms, or eat at different times, if they prefer?
  • Are there facilities for making snacks if a client feels peckish?
  • Are staff trained to sensitively help people eat their food, if necessary?


  • During what time visitors are allowed?
  • Are there quiet areas where relatives can spend time with clients?
  • Are visitors encouraged to take clients out, or join them for a meal?


  • Does the home provide personalised activities that are suitable and engaging for clients?
  • Are there opportunities for clients to help staff with small tasks if they wish?
  • Are trips and outings organised and special events celebrated?
  • Are clients encouraged to take exercise?
  • Are clients able to choose and listen to a variety of music when they feel able?

Cultural differences

  • Are staff interested in learning about the person’s background and culture?
  • Do staff show a respect for differences that might involve diet, clothing, or religious observances?
  • Do staff find out how clients wish to be addressed, and how they prefer to relate to other people?


  • What training do the staff receive? What additional training have the trained nurses undertaken?
  • Do they make time to sit and chat to clients, or talk to them while they are helping them with physical tasks?
  • Is knowledge displayed and evidence of staff training?
  • Do they know about clients’ backgrounds, habits and interests?
  • What are the staffing ratios, ask to see the staffing rotation
  • Are the staff attentive and polite?
  • Are the staff well presented?

Administration / Head of home

  • Do they answer your questions openly, and seem to understand your concerns?
  • Does each client have a care plan, and are their needs regularly reviewed?
  • Is there a complaints procedure?
  • What is included in the fee, what may be charged as ‘extras’?
  • How much notice has to be given on either side?

Above all, use head and heart – you will get a feel for a place the moment you walk through the door