Choosing the right care home

Choosing a care home is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. You need to make sure it’s where you’ll be happy, at an affordable price.

 

What type of care homes are there?

Care homes are run by local councils, private firms and voluntary organisations.

They need to be approved by the appropriate regulatory body in your country.

Some offer accommodation and help with personal care, while others offer nursing care too. Some specialise in mental illness, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Alternatives to a care home could include sheltered housing or extra care housing.

 

What type of care do you need?

If you’re in poor health, you might need a lot of care.

If you’re relatively fit and mobile, you probably won’t need full-time nursing care – at least not for the foreseeable future.

For most people, they need something in between. A local council care needs assessment will confirm this.

Features and benefits
Sheltered accommodation
Residential care home
Nursing care home

Registered with regulatory body

Yes

Yes

Yes

Self-contained living

Yes

No

No

Staff on site

Warden or Manager

Yes

Yes

24/7 Security alarms

Yes

Yes

Yes

Suitable for disabled residents

Some

Some

Yes

Nursing or medical care provided

No

No

Available 24/7

Level of care

Low

Moderate

High

Dependency needs

Low

Moderate

High

Pets allowed

Some

Some

Some

Average cost

From £8,500 a year

From around £30,000 a year

From around £40,000 a year

What’s included in residential fees?

Varies, but might include social events/activities, communal areas, estate management, on-site warden, and ‘meals on wheels’.

24-hr staff availability, help with dressing and bathing, food, social events/activities, and communal areas

24-hr nursing and personal care, food, social events/activities, and communal areas.

Choosing a care home – checklist

Your local council (or Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland) should be able to give you a list of suitable care homes in your area.

Local charities or support groups might be able to help too, as can your national regulatory body.

Here are some tips when choosing one:

  • Make a shortlist of suitable care homes in your area that are within your budget.
  • The cost of care varies from region to region – you could save money by relocating.
  • Ask for an information pack from the homes on your shortlist.
  • Ask for a copy of their contracts, and terms and conditions.
  • Make sure they have vacancies or find out how long their waiting list is.
  • Check how much notice you need to give if you move out and how much notice you’ll get if there are plans for the home to close.
  • If your funding is local council-assisted, check that they’ll accommodate you at the local council rate or whether you’ll need to pay a top-up.
  • Ask what extras you might have to pay for that aren’t covered in your residential fees.

Check the care home’s official inspection report

You can check the homes’ ratings and their most recent inspection report with the following organisations.

Arrange to visit the homes on your shortlist

Before visiting any care homes, you need to be very clear about what you’re looking for.

Make a checklist of the things that are important to you, plus a list of questions to ask the managers and staff.

It’s important not to feel embarrassed – you’re about to make a life-changing decision.

Your checklist could be extensive. Here are a few ideas:

  • Are you allowed to keep pets?
  • When and how long are visiting hours?
  • Does the home offer communal activities?
  • How many staff are employed per resident?
  • Are there enough handrails and mobility aids?
  • Can they meet all your food and dietary requirements?
  • How much space is there for your own possessions?
  • Do the residents appear to have similar care needs to you?
  • Would the home agree to a trial period to see if you like it?
  • Will you have access to private telephones and the internet?
  • Does the home have the bathing and toilet facilities you need?
  • How easy is it to access GPs, dentists, opticians and other health services?
  • If you needed nursing care in the future, would the home be able to provide it?
  • What arrangements are made for handling your personal money and valuables?
  • Can the care home provide the level of care you require both now and in the future –as your needs might increase over time? Do staff have the necessary skills?

How much is it going to cost?

Care home fees vary considerably around the country.

However, on average you should expect to pay approximately £30,000 a year for a residential care home and £50,000 if you need nursing care.

To find out the average annual care home fees where you live, go to the PayingForCare website

They also have a calculator that answers the question Will the state help you pay? Try it on the PayingForCare website

Your local council might be able to help with costs, depending on your circumstances.

Find out more

Download the ‘Choosing and paying for a care home’ factsheet on the FirstStop Advice website

Or call them to discuss your options on 0800 377 7070.

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impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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Looking for us? Now, we’re MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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