Choosing a care home

First published on 23 of March 2018 • Updated 11 of April 2018

If you’ve decided to go into residential care, there’s lots to consider when finding the right home. Care homes differ greatly from one another in the service and facilities they provide, so it pays to look around before deciding.

Who regulates care homes?

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) regulates every care provider in England, from homecare agencies to residential care homes. They visit every provider and assign ratings based on several criteria, including safety, responsiveness and the overall quality of the care. The CQC also publishes detailed reports explaining its assessment and highlighting any areas that fall short. You can read the CQC’s reports and ratings on its website.

What to look for in a good care home

First and foremost, a care home should feel like a home to you. This may be a tall order, but if you find one in an attractive setting, with outstanding facilities and staff, you stand more chance of settling in than if you just pick the nearest or cheapest option.

When comparing one care home with another, look out for the following things in particular:

  • Well-trained staff – Can you view their qualifications? Are they attentive? Also, do they come across as cheerful? Staff mood alone can tell you a lot about a place.
  • Encouraging independence – Your care home should try and help you keep your hobbies and social life.
  • Inspire interaction – Do they organise activities to help you interact with other residents if you want to? Also, how easy is it for friends and family to visit you?
  • Good food – There should be meals you actively look forward to – while knowing that they’re healthy too.
  • Personal space – Everyone needs to be alone some of the time, and some people more than others. Your private space should be comfortable and respected.
  • Comfortable environment – The facilities themselves should be clean, bright and have clear space where residents can interact or be on their own.
  • Personalised care – You should have a care plan that you have helped create, to ensure that you’re actively involved in deciding what is best for you.

Signs that a care home may be unsuitable

You can check the CQC’s ratings to see if your preferred care home is meeting standards (look for Good or Outstanding ratings). Unfortunately, some care homes fail to maintain the quality of required of them. Here are some signs that a care home’s standards may be slipping.

  • Your wishes are ignored – E.g. the staff make decisions about your care without consulting you, or don’t encourage you to be independent by allowing you to do some tasks yourself.
  • Your care plan is overlooked – There’s no point having a plan if it’s not being followed. The plan should also be regularly reviewed.
  • Your privacy or dignity is disrespected – Have staff failed to knock before coming into your room? Have you heard them discussing you or other residents behind their back?
  • The place is unclean – If the facilities (particularly bathrooms) aren’t cleaned regularly enough then this is definitely cause for complaint.
  • Generally poor facilities – Dated or broken furnishings are a clear warning sign, as they indicate long-term neglect.

What if I can’t find a residential care home I like?

Residential care can be a bit of a lottery, and you may not be able to find a care home in the area you want that also meets your required standards. Also, residential care may not suit everyone’s temperament. If a care home doesn’t appeal, the good news is that homecare can be an effective alternative in the majority of cases, and can often work out as more affordable too.

Let us match you to your perfect care provider