How To Choose The Right Care Home

We know that considering a move into nursing or residential care is a big decision at what is often a difficult time. There can be so many elements that need to be considered to ensure that you make the right choice of a home that is perfect for you or your loved one.

To support you in your search, we have put together the following information that has been guided by questions we receive regularly by others in search of a care home. We also have a Care Home Checklist available to download to  guide you on your search for a home and help to find one that ticks all the right boxes.


Download Our Care Home Checklist

Types of care

A key element in the search for a care home is to understand whether or not a home is going to be able to meet the care needs of you or your loved one. There are a number of care options available in various homes, which can either be owned by private providers, local authorities or voluntary organisations.

Having a good understanding of your care requirements will quickly help you to eliminate any care homes that may not be able to meet your needs.

The types of care that will be available to within care homes are;

Residential Care

Residential care services are designed to provide a comfortable and relaxed home environment. This type of home would be suitable for someone who is perhaps looking to maintain an independent lifestyle within a community, and receive day to day support with things such as laundry, cooking or housekeeping.

Assisted Living

Assisted Living provides additional daily support that maintains the physical care and comfort of residents. This can include personal care day to day tasks, such as washing and dressing, as well as giving medication that is given by specially trained staff member, and not a registered nurse.

Nursing Care

Care homes that are capable of providing nursing care will be able to support residents who have more complex medical needs and longer term conditions that require day to day management.

Dementia Care

For those living with dementia, there will be care homes that provided dedicated services that can cater for their needs. These homes will have staff trained in dementia care and have facilities designed specifically designed to create a safe, calm and engaging environment.

Still Not Sure Where To Start

If you’re not sure where to start, talking with a professional such as your GP or social services will help you to gain a better understanding of the care type that would be needed. They may already know your family member and in any event are best placed to assess the need for residential, nursing and dementia care. They can also talk through any other options that may be available.

If a care home is ultimately the way forward, they will be able to help with finding the most appropriate one.

Living Spaces & Facilities

Although a care home can’t replace a family home, they can offer a warm and welcoming environment where residents will feel safe and comfortable. Having an idea of what is most important will help to find a care home that will provide a setting that will feel like home.

Personal living spaces will vary from home to home. The size of rooms can differ vastly, as well as the facilities available such as en-suite bathrooms, lounges and kitchenettes. You will also be able to make your personal living spaces a home from home and add your own personal touch. Many care homes will allow you to bring your own furniture and other personal possessions, however it is important to check what can be brought to the home first.

Communal living spaces are often the heart of a home, where residents can spend time catching up over coffee and cake, take part in a range of activities or spend some quiet time reading a newspaper or favourite book. A welcoming care home environment should always include attractive and carefully designed day spaces or communal areas. Spend time viewing these spaces to make sure they are warm, welcoming and homely environments that residents enjoy spending time using

Care homes can also have additional facilities that will be available for residents to use such as hairdressing salons, cinema rooms, therapy rooms and libraries, and are important to consider when searching for a home.
Aside from the additional facilities, take a look around the home, and consider how well maintained even the basic facilities are. Is the garden well maintained, walls, carpets and furniture as stain-free as you would expect? And does the building itself look well maintained?

Various care homes will also have additional facilities that will be available for residents to use such as hairdressing salons, cinema rooms, therapy rooms and libraries, and are important to consider when searching for a home.

Aside from the additional facilities, take a look around the home, and consider how well maintained even the basic facilities are. Is the garden well maintained, walls, carpets and furniture as stain-free as you would expect? And does the building itself look well maintained?


Food and drink are critical to our well-being in so many ways. Care homes will be able to cater for a wide variety of dietary needs, and should take into account your needs, preferences, allergies and cultural and religious backgrounds.

Having an enjoyable dining experience is also an important aspect and residents should also be able to choose to enjoy their meals in the communal dining rooms, the privacy of their own room or with guests in a private dining room by prior appointment – for example on birthdays or other special occasions.

Malnutrition has a wide-ranging impact on people’s health and wellbeing, and screening for the risk of malnutrition in care settings is important for enabling early and effective interventions. You may want to request information about the care homes screening processes for the risk of malnutrition and their process for early and effective intervention.

Activities & Lifestyle

Living in a supportive environment where residents can continue to live as independently as possible and continuing doing the things they love helps to maintain a sense of purpose that is vital for an older person’s wellbeing and overall health. Residents should have the opportunity to try new activities and continue with life-long learning should they wish to.

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) set quality standards to help care homes improve the quality of care they provide. Their quality standard for ‘Mental wellbeing of older people in care homes’ states that care homes should offer residents the opportunity to participate in meaningful activity that promotes their health and mental wellbeing.

These Activities should be both structured and spontaneous and available for groups of residents, or for individuals, as well as involving family, friends and carers, and the wider community. These can range from activities of daily living such as dressing, eating and washing, to leisure activities such as gardening, singing, arts and craft and even day trips out in to the local community.

During your visit, request some more information about the variety of activities and how often will they will be available. You may also be able to join the home during one of their community events/activities, where you will be able to see first hand what the care home will be offering.

The Care

It is important for care homes to involve residents, family and friends through-out the decision making process of care. By providing a supportive setting that enables residents to express their wishes and what they want from their care, will help to maintain their sense of personal identity, and create a more positive experience of the transition into a care home. The care plans created should identify specific needs and preferences of the individual and provide staff information of the personal history, as well as their interests and beliefs,

Care homes should also have suitable processes in place for ongoing care, recognising the signs and symptoms of physical and medical problems that may arise, involving GPS, physios, dentist and opticians where appropriate, and informing family members of any changes.

During your search for a care home, ask about admission into the care home, how are care plans created, do they have any examples to view and who is involved and what processes are in place for the ongoing maintenance.

Care Home Ratings

All care homes will be rated by the Care Quality Commission, and these ratings can help you to compare the various care homes that are considering and make your choices about care. There are four ratings that are given to care homes: outstanding, good, requires improvement and inadequate.

Care homes are normally given these ratings based on each of the five key question that are asked during an inspection.

  • Are they safe?
  • Are they effective?
  • Are they caring?
  • Are they responsive to people’s needs?
  • Are they well-led?
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Customer Reviews

Reading reviews left by relatives, friends and residents, who have had a first hand experience of the services, provides a good insight into life in the care home. Reviews of the care home can be good, bad, neutral, long, or short. They can also be detailed and packed with useful insights, or may lack any useful information to your search

These will be available in marketing materials provided by the care home as well as their website. Reviews will also be available to read online on websites such as, Trustpilot, as well as Google when you search for a particular home.

Finding More Information

You can speak with the care sector regulator, the CQC, which maintains lists of care homes and publishes independent reviews online. You can use the CQC website to search for care homes in your area and view their inspection reports.  Age UK also provides some useful information to help and find a care home, as well as other options that you could consider in your search.

For specific questions relating to someone who is living with dementia, the Alzheimer’s Society provides useful information, from advice to real stories as well as latest research in dementia.


Find a care home that ticks all the right boxes

To support you in your search for a care home, we have put together the following checklist that highlights the key areas to consider when viewing different homes, and help you make the best informed choice.


Download Our Care Home Checklist




Whether you’d like an initial chat about the care we provide, you have a question about our all-inclusive fees, or you’d like more information about one of our beautiful homes, we’re here to help.