Once you have decided on a Home, the next step is to see whether it really suits you.

A lot can be learned from a visit, but the experience of living in the home is the real test. This will allow you to find out whether the home offers you an acceptable way of life and can meet your individual needs.

Making the move

Back to topTrial periods

If it is at all possible, a trial period is the best way to make sure the home is suitable before making final arrangements to move. The regulations for funding and for welfare benefits allow for this to happen.

Government rules require all care homes to provide a trial stay to potential residents before they make a final decision to move in to the home. If your residential care is being arranged by social workers on behalf of a local authority, they can help to arrange this.

Many homes will allow you to visit more than once and spend time in the home, perhaps with a relative or friend for moral support, before making up your mind to ask for a trial period. It is worthwhile asking if this is possible. Some care homes provide rooms specifically for trial stays but many homes are often full and it may take time to arrange a short stay. Government rules require all care homes to provide a trial stay to potential residents before they make a final decision to move in to the home.

If you are going to be discharged from hospital to a care home this may need to happen too quickly to allow a visit, or you may have to go to a home which is not your first choice because there are no immediate vacancies. In this case asking for a trial period is a good idea.

During your stay, ensure that the facilities available will meet your needs and that the care staff can provide the care you need, especially if you have conditions requiring special treatment. Wherever possible ask family and friends before making a final decision.

Back to topThe contract

If your care is funded by the Local Authority, they will make a contract with the Care Home on your behalf. Often this is a standard contract that you should ask to see. Make sure you understand exactly what the standard contract covers and that it meets your needs. If you have any doubts check with your social worker that all your particular needs are covered. You should be made aware of any additional charges which might be made, for example, for hairdressing or for excursions.

If you fund yourself, it is your responsibility to contract with the care home, so it is essential to make sure that the contract is clear, comprehensive, and acceptable. That you understand it. It is advisable that a relative or friend helps you. In most cases the opportunity to negotiate changes to a standard contract is limited, but you should make sure that your particular needs are covered.

The government has also laid down some minimum standards for the contract, which will be checked regularly by the Care Quality Commission.

Back to topMoving out from your own home and moving in to a care home

The actual business of moving can be very stressful. If you cannot do this yourself and no friends or relatives are available to help, it may be worthwhile contacting the Local Authority to see whether they can offer any help or suggest a local voluntary organisation that is able to do so. Often your local CAB (Citizens Advice Bureau) can give advice on who can help.

Many homes will encourage you to take a small number of personal possessions into your room such as photographs, or an item of furniture such as a favourite chair. You will need to check with the home beforehand for its policy on bringing in your own property.

Moving into residential care is a big step both for the new resident and the family. Many people find they have mixed feelings about this and it is important to discuss any concerns with trusted relatives or friends who might be able to help. It is not unusual to feel unsettled for a while, but it is always best to talk to the Home Manager as there may be something they can change for you within the home to make you happier.

Advice is available from a number of charities especially on the practical matters that may arise on moving into care, including any impact on your friends and family.

  • Trial periods
    This NHS web page (Carers Direct) provides some summary information about trial periods in care homes.
  • NHS information about care homes
    This further page from NHS Careers Direct provides some basic information about different types of care home, and the choices available for supporting the care needs of older people.
  • Contract terms and conditions (R&RA)
    This document provided by the Relatives and Residents Association provides advice on the terms and conditions which you should expect to find in a contract and which should be reviewed and understood before committing yourself to them.
  • Contract terms and conditions (Independent Age)
    Independent Age (Counsel and Care) has this comprehensive guide to care homes (plus a 2012 insert) which also refer to contract terms and conditions and what you should expect to find in them. They address such issues as ‘Will there be a contract for my stay in a care home?” and “What will the contract cover?”. Information about contracts is found on page 16 of the handbook.
  • Minimum standards for the contract
    The government’s minimum standards are specified in a Department of Health document ‘Care Homes for Older People National Minimum Standards’.
  • Overcoming feelings of Guilt
    This document from the Relatives and Residents provides advice on how to handle the feelings of guilt which may sometimes occur. The document offer advice on acknowledging it and thinking through why you feel this way and helping you to accept and overcome it.
  • Practical help and support
    This website from Carers UK describes some of the practical matters that may arise for yourself or someone who has looked after you.

Further links

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