What questions should I ask when deciding on a care home?

There are many questions you need to consider when making an important decision involving the future care and well being of an elderly relative. These can be broken down into 5 main areas:

1. Location

  • Ease of access and convenience for family and friends to visit
  • Is it convenient for shops, public transport and amenities?
  • Does the surrounding area appeal to you?
  • Are there outside rest areas?

2. Initial Impression

  • Were you made to feel welcome by the staff?
  • Were you offered refreshments?
  • Do the present residents seem happy and is the atmosphere ‘homely’?
  • Is the home well maintained, in a good state of repair and clean?
  • Does the Home have a pleasant smell?

3. Bedrooms

  • Were you shown the actual room that you/your relative would occupy?
  • Can residents bring their own furniture and other possessions?
  • Is the room pleasantly decorated?
  • Does the room have en-suite facilities?
  • Is there a television and telephone point?
  • Can residents lock their room (if it is advisable for them to do so)?
  • Is it possible to move to another room if the one offered doesn’t suit?

4. Care

  • Does the Home provide the level of care required for your/your relatives needs?
  • Is a regular review of those needs undertaken?
  • Does the Home provide the next level of care should it be required in the future?
  • Can residents eat when they want to?
  • Can meals be taken in a residents bedroom if desired?
  • Is there a choice of menu?
  • Are special diets catered for e.g. vegetarian, diabetic?
  • Are snacks readily available at all times?
  • Are the menus changed on a regular basis?
  • Do the cooking staff consult the residents on their preferences?
  • Can residents choose who they sit with to eat their meal?
  • Can relatives and friends have a meal?
  • Does the Home offer a full range of services?
  • Are residents able to choose which Doctor they can see?
  • Are there visiting Dentists, Chiropodists, Opticians, etc?
  • Does the Hairdresser visit the Home regularly?
  • Are other services available such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy if required?
  • Are there ample assisted bathing facilities in the Home?
  • Do residents have the freedom to rise and go to bed when they want to?
  • Will relatives be advised if a resident is taken ill and generally kept informed of their well being?

5. Other Issues / Activities

  • Is there a quiet lounge without a television where residents can go if they wish?
  • Are there safe and secure garden facilities?
  • Is there a bar?
  • Are arrangements in place to accommodate the needs of people who smoke if they wish to?
  • Is there easy access for people with walking difficulties, wheelchairs, etc?
  • Are there toilet facilities within easy reach of all parts of the Home?
  • Do the corridors and toilets have secure handrails?
  • During your visit did staff appear to be friendly and caring towards existing residents?
  • Does each resident have a staff member allocated to be responsible for their care?
  • What staff training is given?
  • Is there a weekly plan of activities – were examples shown to you during your visit?
  • Are residents asked what hobbies and interests they have?
  • Are birthdays and other special events celebrated in the Home?
  • Is exercise encouraged? If so, what form does this take?
  • Does the Home take residents out on day trips?
  • Does the Home have its own transport, e.g. minibus?
  • Are daily newspapers available for residents?
  • Is there a well stocked library in the Home or a visiting library service?
  • Can residents attend services at places of worship? If so, is transport provided? Or are there visiting clergy?
  • Are residents encouraged to take part in the daily activities if they are able, e.g. cleaning, gardening, cooking etc?
  • Were there any photographs of any recent activities on display in the Home?
  • Did you feel overall that the specific needs of you/your relative could be met by the Home you have visited?