Choosing a Care Home

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Society is getting older and unfortunately many of the elderly have to go into residential care when their needs get too much for their families.

Finding a good care home can be a bit of a minefield though. You want to make sure that your relative is going into a safe and comfortable place. It’s best to go to a few homes before deciding on what home you would like your relative to go into. I thought I’d compile a quick guide on how to go about visiting a care home and what to look for:

Internet research

Much like going to a hotel, it’s best to google reviews of the home to see what people have to say about it. There are also professional home inspection reports that are available for public viewing. Have a look at those too!

Obviously if there are too many negative reviews or anything too serious then steer clear but don’t let one or two negative comments put you off from going. Take note of the negative comments and be sure to ask the staff members about how they are handling it.

Turn up unannounced

If you let the home know you are coming they will be able to plan for your visit and show you the best picture of the home they can possibly paint. If you turn up unannounced then they won’t be able to plan for your arrival.


Unfortunately old people can sometimes leak out of unfortunate places! If you walk into a home and it smells too strongly of urine or faecal matter then walk away. Accidents do happen but if the smell is too strong then it doesn’t suggest that things are kept clean.

Staff/Resident ratio

Make a mental note of how many people each member of staff are having to look after. If the staff are too overstretched then they won’t have time to care for your relative on a more personal level. A staff member that is rushed is also more likely to make a mistake.

It’s difficult to do in the time window you are given but if a resident asks for help try to pay attention to how long it takes for a member of staff to attend them.

Staff Attitude

If the staff seem happy in their jobs then they are more likely to provide more professional care. If they are happy they are more likely to stay in their jobs and will get to know your relative and their personal needs in greater detail.

Again if you research the Home Inspection Reports it should provide staff turn over. If that seems high that may be worth baring in mind.

The rooms

You will be looking for function and form here. Is the room going to be accessible for your relative? Is it clean? Is there a safe or locked drawers for personal possessions? What is the temperature like? Is it too hot or too cold? Also, is it decorated nicely? Will your relative be happy sleeping there and does the home use labels and pictures n the doors to remind the residents whose room is whose?

Other areas

As with the rooms it’s function and form you are looking for. Are there plenty of seats in the living room and dining room? If applicable is everything well sign posted so residents can find their way around? If there is a garden is it well kept?

Social activities

Ask the staff what sort of activities they do with the residents. Are there games, clubs or social events for the residents to partake in and will your relative like them?

Keep an eye out on your visit for staff chatting to residents and residents interacting. It’s nice to have friendly environment!

Private activities

Ask the staff about the things that the residents can do by themselves. Do they have a television or radio? Newspapers or books or maybe even a shared computer?


Are visiting hours suitable for you? If you have kids or pets are they allowed to come and see your relative? It’s maybe the last thing you’ll think of but being able to see your relative at good times is important.

I hope I have provided you with some ideas and questions for going to visit a care home. It can be intimidating and daunted but go in with an idea of what you want to know and what to expect from a home and you will be fine!

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