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How To Choose A Care Home: A Guide

Fonthill House, St Albans, Hertfordshire

Choosing the right care home can seem like a daunting task. But it is an important one. Your care home should be a happy and comfortable place to live. When choosing a care home it’s important to consider what’s important to you and then weigh up all of your options. This guide will help you understand all of the important factors you need to consider when choosing the correct home care services for you.

When to consider a care home

Considering going into a care home is a big decision. However, care homes are a fantastic option for those who are struggling to live alone, even with the help of friends and family. Certain medical conditions may require 24-hour care and monitoring. Regardless of the reason, care homes can offer specialist support, which helps to reduce stress and frees up time to focus on social activities and general wellbeing. If you remain torn between care home services, you can participate in a Needs Assessment. This is a professional service that will recommend care options that might be the best option for you and your needs.

How to Find Care Homes

Finding appropriate care homes that match all of your criteria is the perfect starting point. When considering care home options you will want to take into account these factors;

  • Are these care homes in the right location? When shortlisting care homes, many like to choose a location that they are familiar with. Others find it important that their new potential care home choice is near to family members and friends.
  • Funding. Care homes can range massively in cost. It’s important to assess each care home’s funding options and fees. This may help you eliminate some options or give you time to sort out the necessary arrangements if one of the care homes is the right fit for you.
  • Recommendation. Do you have any family members or friends that are already in a care home? If so, ask them if they would recommend you become a resident. Receiving a recommendation from someone you trust is a great way to choose the right care home with confidence.

How to choose the right care home

You might be wondering where to start when looking into choosing a safe and comfortable care home. Whether you are exploring home care services for yourself or a loved one, these steps will help make the process of choosing the best care home options easier.

Step 1: Needs Assessment

Getting a needs assessment before looking at care home options can be beneficial. This is a professional assessment that helps determine the type of care that may be best for you. Needs assessments help determine if you qualify for financial help from your local authorities. Even if you know your home care is being self-funded, it’s recommended that you still carry out a needs assessment as it may highlight other care requirements you may not have previously considered.

Step 2: Care Home Inspection Reports

You have already compiled a list of suitable care home choices using our tips above. Fortunately, in the UK there are organisations responsible for inspecting the quality of care providers. These reports are publicly available to review. These reports take a deep dive into key points, such as; staff turnover, the number of inspections and whether previous recommendations have been implemented. Taking the time to read the care home inspection reports for each of your potential care homes is a great way to understand if the care home is being managed well and offers a high enough level of care.

Step 3: Make Contact

Now you’re satisfied that your potential new care home meets your quality expectations, it’s time to make contact. Making contact via phone eliminates the chance of a wasted visit. Talking to the care home manager, it’s a great way to learn more about the home’s fees, availability and how they can work with you to meet your care requirements.

If you are happy with your initial conversation, a good tip is to request a brochure and book an appointment for an in-person visit.

Step 4: Visit the care home

By visiting the care home in person, you will be able to make a clear judgement on if it’s the right option for you. If it’s possible, take a friend or family member. This will be a great opportunity to meet staff, assess cleanliness and learn more about what activities are available. You may be able to take a look at your potential room too.

When visiting the care home, use it as an opportunity to ask any questions you have. We recommend taking a moment to observe other residents. Are they smiling and carrying out social activities?. Can you hear laughter? Warning signs to listen out for include shouting/ arguing and un-answered assistance bells. The cleanliness of the care home should also be a priority. 

Most importantly after your visit, take a moment to reflect on how the care home has made you feel. If you are undecided, we recommend carrying out a surprise visit. This will best place you to make the right decision when choosing your care home.

Questions you should ask when choosing a care home


  • Can family and friends visit you easily? 
  • Are there sufficient parking options? 
  • Take the time to explore around the care home. Are there a good range of shops?


  • Do residents eat together or alone?
  • Can the care home cater to your dietary requirements?
  • Is the food of high quality? (Prepared onsite, or supplied by a third party)
  • How often does the menu change? Request a sample menu.

Social activities:

  • Is there a good range of social activities?
  • Are there break-away rooms or areas with seating where residents can socialise together?
  • Are residents actively encouraged to stay active?
  • Is there an activity manager? How important are social activities to the care home?


  • Are staff well trained / Are specialist staff available to deal with more specialist care requirements like dementia?
  • Are the staff friendly, engaged and welcoming?
  • Is there a high staff turnover? – This would indicate potential managerial problems.
  • Do staff have all of the appropriate care qualifications?

Costs / Fees:

  • How are the care homes fees structured, calculated and paid?
  • Are there any additional fees you need to be made aware of?
  • Is there a fee that needs to be paid when the resident dies?

Choosing the right care home requires in-depth due diligence. There are a lot of factors that you need to consider, such as; where the care home is located, does it have a good reputation according to the inspection report and is it within your budget? Most importantly, the right care home for you will be the place where you think you will be safe, happy and cared for.

If you would like to learn more about Fonthill House or you would like to book a visit then please contact us today.  

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