Choosing the Right Care Home: A Comprehensive Guide

If you’re faced with the challenging decision of moving a loved one into a care home or considering it for yourself, the next big question is: How do you choose the right one? This crucial decision involves various factors such as care levels, activities, location, and cost. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the process of selecting the perfect care home.

1. When to Consider a Care Home

A care home may become the safer and more comfortable option when living independently becomes challenging due to medical conditions, disabilities, or old age. To assess your needs accurately, apply for a “needs assessment” from your local social services. This assessment will help determine if a care home is the best choice.

2. Choosing Your Care Home

Your ability to choose a care home depends on your funding source. Those with significant savings may need to cover the cost themselves. If the council is involved, they will provide options, but there are restrictions on cost and suitability. If your family contributes a “top-up fee,” you can opt for a higher-priced care home.

3. The Cost of Care Homes

Care home costs vary by location and the type of care required. On average, expect to pay around £1,000 per week. Costs can be higher in London (around £1,300 per week) and lower in regions like the north east (approximately £912 per week). Different levels of care come with varying price tags.

4. Finding the Right Location

Consider the location carefully. Websites like,, or allow you to search for care homes based on your preferred postcode and care needs. Evaluate the proximity to family and local amenities.

5. Understanding Care Home Ratings

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) rates care homes in England based on safety, effectiveness, staff care, responsiveness, and leadership. Ratings include “outstanding,” “good,” “requires improvement,” and “inadequate.” Look beyond the rating and read the report to understand why a rating was given.

6. Visiting Care Homes

Narrow down your choices and visit at least three care homes for a firsthand experience. Look out for red flags, such as poor maintenance, unclean surroundings, or residents left alone. Observe whether staff engage with residents and create a positive atmosphere.

7. Questions to Ask During Your Visit

Prepare a list of questions before visiting care homes. Ask about staffing levels, profiles of staff members, visiting hours, room facilities, and safety measures. Tailor your questions to the specific needs and preferences of your loved one.

8. Making the Right Choice

Consider every detail, even the smallest ones, to ensure your loved one feels at ease in their new environment. If they have specific interests or hobbies, find a care home that accommodates those preferences. The goal is to create a comfortable and enjoyable living experience.

9. Handling Complaints

If you encounter issues with the care provided, first communicate with the care home’s operator or manager. They should have a process for addressing complaints. If unsatisfied, contact your local council or government ombudsman for further assistance. Advocacy support is available if you need help navigating the complaints process.

Choosing the right care home is a significant decision, and it requires careful consideration. By following these steps and asking the right questions, you can ensure that your loved one receives the care and support they deserve in their new home.