Finding the right care home: top five considerations

elderly man with stick and carer

If you have a relative going into residential care, there are a number of issues to think about, and not all of them financial.

1. Make use of all available resources

You’ll need to choose a home with care. Age UK and social services can provide a list of homes in your area, or look online. Make sure they are appropriate to your relative’s needs. For example, not all homes cater for residents with dementia. The Care Quality Commission inspects homes regularly and reports on their quality and standard. Its website also gives you some useful pointers on what to look out for when you visit.

2. Ask for recommendations

A word of mouth recommendation is very useful, so tell your friends and neighbours that you are looking for a home, or post in a local Facebook group or neighbourhood forum.

3. Check out the finances

Paying for care can be very expensive, so it’s worth taking a look at your financial position and see if any state benefits are available. These may vary depending on your area. There may also be particular homes, or bursaries, for certain occupations, so explore all options.

4. Do some research

Once you have a short-list, contact potential homes to find out about vacancies and waiting lists, and get their brochures, contracts, and terms and conditions to look over. You may be able to download these yourself.

Before you visit, think of questions you want to ask, and what to look out for. Again, it’s worth discussing this with any friends and neighbours first. You may want to visit unannounced, so you can see the home on an ordinary day, rather than when everyone is on ‘best behaviour’.

During your visit talk to the owner, staff, residents and visitors.

5. Take care with the contract

Once you’ve chosen a home, ensure that you receive and sign a formal contract that clearly sets out your rights.

Most homes will require a flat weekly or monthly fee, but it is very common to find hidden charges added at short notice, either for fee increases or extras, so be vigilant.

If you are acting as an attorney for another person, you must ensure that you sign the contract in that role, stating that you are the attorney, so that you are not personally responsible for paying the fees.

Heledd Wyn TEP is Associate Director, Head of Long-Term & Elderly Care, at Gregg Latchams Ltd, Bristol 


An article of this kind can never provide a complete guide to the law in these areas, which may be subject to change from time to time. The opinions and suggestions made within this article should not be interpreted as specific advice in relation to any particular individual or individuals. Neither STEP, the article author or their firm accept responsibility for any loss occasioned by someone acting or refraining to act on the basis of the opinions and suggestions contained in this article. More