Choosing a care home for yourself or a family member must be planned and well researched. In this guide, Preston Solicitor, Ellen Fay provides some essential tips that will improve the chances of getting it right and ensure that the correct level of care is provided.

1. Don’t be pressurised or rushed into making a decision you may later regret.

2. Consider all the accommodation options

  • Staying in your own home
  • Living with relatives
  • Sheltered housing
  • A care home
  • A care home offering nursing care
  • A home offering both personal care and nursing care.

3. Contact your GP, Social Worker or Solicitor for advice.

4. Ask a friend or relative to help you with the decision making.

If residential care seems to be the best option:-

5. Consider your financial position. Find out whether any (additional) benefits are available. Find out whether Social Services will let you remain in a particular home if your funds run out.

6. Get hold of a list of homes in the area from Social Services or contact the local offices of a specialist charity such as Age UK for a list of homes. Alternatively search online via Better Caring.

7. Draw up a shortlist of the homes that seem to be most suitable.

8. Contact the Commission of Social Care Inspection advice line on telephone number 0845 015 0120. Ask to see the inspection homes for the homes on your shortlist (in some areas, copies of the reports are kept at the library). They are worth consulting because they will give you an unbiased, expert opinion.

9. Contact the homes you like the sound of. Find out whether they have got any vacancies or whether there is a waiting list. Ask them to send you a copy of their:-

  • Brochure
  • Contract or terms and conditions of residence
  • Policy statements or aims and objectives
  • Scale of fees.

10. Arrange a visit. Before visiting, draw up a list of the questions you need to ask (see client’s handout visiting a Care Home). Take someone with you so that you can compare notes later on. Take your time. Don’t be rushed. Have a good look around. Talk to:-

  • The owner/manager
  • Staff
  • Residents
  • Visitors

11. When you have decided which home appeals to you most, arrange a trial stay for a reasonable period of time, if possible. With high occupancy rates in some areas this may not be possible, however, at least try to spend a day in the home before making a decision.

12. Don’t sell your house or surrender your tenancy until you are entirely satisfied that the home will suit your requirements, that you will fit in and that you will be happy there.

13. Make sure you receive a formal contract which clearly sets out your rights and responsibilities, and make sure you understand it.

Ellen Fay has advised many clients and their family members on a number of issues regarding longterm care including choosing a care home and funding care.