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Essential advice for choosing residential care

Posted on 20/01/2016

When it comes to choosing a residential care setting for yourself or for a parent, there is a lot to consider. You want to be sure that you make the right decision, as you need to feel comfortable and secure in the choice that you make.

Here we have a list of things that you should consider when it comes to finding a care home or other residential care environment.

Pick what kind of residential setting you want

There are different types of residential care available, depending on your level of need. These range from retirement homes, which offer accessible homes with communal areas, emergency call systems and on-site wardens; through to care homes for 24-hour care and support. Make sure that you know all of your options, so that you can pick the right one for your requirements.

See what the CQC says

The CQC is the Care Quality Commission, and they are responsible for regulating health and social care in England. You can view the reports of their latest inspections on care homes in your area to be sure that they are up to standard.

Do your research

There are various ways that you can find local residential settings in your local area. There are websites, such as www.carehome.co.uk, that help you to find services. You can also look in local papers for advertisements or ask around – word of mouth is usually a good indicator of a popular setting.

Consider your finances

If you are receiving a Personal Budget from your local authority to go towards your move to a care home, then be aware that the amount you can spend is limited. You have the right to choose any care home, but the council will only pay a set amount so if you want something outside of that budget, then you will need to top up the rest of the fees yourself. If you are self-funding, be aware that you may be paying more for the same care than someone who is council-funded – see our report on this topic.

Shortlist and visit

Based on your requirements, location and budget, you should collate a shortlist of a few settings that meet your needs. You should visit them all, with another person if possible for feedback. You need to get a feel for the place and find out what the staff are like. This is your chance to ask questions about the things that are important to you, such as access and availability to other local activities, in-house entertainment, what care and support is required, how much independence you will have, what the rooms/flats are like and so on. If you can and it’s appropriate, talk to other residents or the families of residents, as first-hand feedback will give you a better overview of the environment.

Have a trial

This won’t apply if you are buying a retirement home, but if you are looking at a care home, then see if you can try the setting for a short period and see if it is right. Sometimes you will know instinctively that it’s not the best place to be, and this can help you to refine your needs and requirements.

Further advice

If you are still unsure, there are some useful sources out there to help you make the right decision, such as this detailed checklist from Age UK. We also have more information in our Residential Care section on the website.

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