Choosing the right place

If you decide residential care is the answer, the next step is to find the place that suits your needs and preferences.

If you are getting funding from the Local Authority, you should still be offered a choice of homes. Although they are unlikely to be able to recommend specific homes, they will have lists of homes in the area and any specialist services they can offer. It is advisable to get to know as much about the potential options as possible before making this important decision.

Choosing the right place

Back to topLocating suitable homes

Before making a decision on a choice of home, it may help you to locate suitable homes in your local area, to identify the environment provided by each and the facilities on offer. This will provide you with sufficient information to shortlist a few homes and contact the home managers to arrange a visit to find out more about them.

The following agencies may be able to help you find a home in your area:

  • Your local authority social work department
  • Local and some national charities may have a knowledge of care homes within your own area
  • Directories of care services such as ‘yellow pages’, telephone directories
  • Some homes advertise on the Internet or have their own website
  • Friends who can provide a personal recommendation
  • Other local media (e.g. newspapers)

Back to topSome issues to consider

Should you visit a home, try to do so with a friend and have a good look round:

  • Are your dietary needs met?
  • Are there regular meetings between management, staff and residents, relatives to discuss issues such as general concerns or complaints?
  • Are there sufficient lounges for e.g. quiet relaxation such as reading, television, hobbies etc?
  • Can you bring your own possessions or small items of furniture into the home?
  • Can you choose when to eat or go to bed/get up?
  • Can you retain your own GP? How are your medicines prescribed and administered?
  • Do the residents appear relaxed and happy to be there (chat to some if possible)?
  • Does it have a welcoming environment?
  • Does the home provide the range of services to meet your needs?
  • Does the home arrange excursions to places of interest or invite people to come to the home to provide entertainment?
  • If you have mobility or other disabilities, can you move easily from one part of the home to another (e.g. hand rails and ramps for wheelchairs), and that staff can communicate with you (e.g. if visual or hearing impairment)?
  • Is there a toilet for Disabled (i.e. good access and able to turn around in normal sized wheelchair)?
  • Is there a loop system?
  • Is there both audible and visual fire alarms?
  • Is it clean, tidy with no unpleasant smells?
  • Is there access to a library and computer?
  • What is the home policy on visitors? Where and when can they visit you?
  • Will you have access to a telephone?
  • What activities, both physical and recreational are available for residents?

Many charities provide leaflets giving advice on similar issues and it may be helpful to prepare your own checklist of questions to ask about a particular home.

Back to topMaking contact

Every home should have a manager or matron who is responsible for the overall care provided to its residents and is the person to approach about a possible stay.

All care home managers must be perceived to have an open door policy, welcoming potential new residents / families to visit the care home without having to make an appointment, although it would be courteous to try and avoid meal times to allow the residents to dine without interruption.

Some managers may invite potential residents and/or their families to lunch, so they have the chance to meet other residents and see how a home runs on a daily basis.

If you have been assessed by Social Services and are receiving local authority funding your social worker may assist with arranging an introduction and /or visit.

If you are funding yourself privately, by all means contact by telephone, summarise your essential needs and check that the home can meet them. If so arrange to meet the manager.

If you are unable to make arrangements yourself, e.g. if currently an inpatient at a hospital, social workers or friends may be able to find a suitable home on your behalf. Sometimes a home manager may visit you at home or in hospital to assess whether your needs can be met within their own care home and suggest arrangements for a visit and/or move.

  • Care Quality Commission
    The CQC has registered over 18,000 care homes and publishes all its inspection reports on its website. These reports indicate for each home whether national standards are being met. It is the best source for unbiased information.
  • Age UK
    For an excellent general overview of the various issues to be taken into account when choosing and moving into a care home, Age UK Concern has published a useful guide to finding suitable accommodation.
  • Care and Nursing homes in Essex
    A directory of care and nursing homes in Essex is provided by this site which can be used to search by town and gives the home address and essential information about each home. There are also search functions by service provision such as dementia care or care for the elderly with mental health issues.
  • Independent Age
    This document provided by our partner agency provides a useful and comprehensive checklist of issues to consider when selecting a care home or making a visit.

Further links

Our own online index page of useful links to a summary of support organisations.