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Choosing A Care Home

Frequently asked questions

We are currently compiling a list of frequently asked questions to help site visitors. Below are some of the most common questions we get asked - if you have a question relating to dementia care that you would like us to answer please email us.

How do I go about choosing a care home?

Arrangements for care may be made through the local authority, or independently. Either way, it is a good idea to visit a number of homes before making a final choice. Make sure you spend enough time at the home to get a good idea of what it is like. If you are looking for a home on behalf of the person with dementia, you may want to visit once on your own and then, if you think it suitable, visit again with the person with dementia. You can then see what their reactions are, and how they might settle in. You may be able to arrange a trial period: many homes require these anyway, and they can be very useful.  Discuss this with the home.

Before making a final decision, you may want to look at a recent inspection report for the home. These often give a lot of detail on how the home operates. You could ask the home itself to let you see a copy, or you could contact the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

What should I look for in a care home?

Spend some time looking round and talking to the person in charge, as well as other staff and residents. Don't be afraid to ask questions. It may help to take a checklist of things you want to find out. You will have your own views on what is important, but the following suggestions may be useful. In addition, the Society's booklet 838, Putting Care Right, has questions to ask when visiting a care home.

First impressions

First impressions are often an important clue to how a home is run. For example:

  • Are you greeted in a friendly way when you arrive?
  • Is the atmosphere homely and welcoming?
  • Is it clean and pleasantly decorated and furnished?
  • Are there any unpleasant smells?

Residents

The best indication of a good home is that the residents appear happy and responsive, and that individuals are treated with dignity and respect:

  • Do staff speak to residents in a way the residents like?
  • Are residents involved in activities or chatting?
  • Are they properly dressed and well groomed?
  • Do they seem alert and interested?
  • Do they talk to you as you walk round?
  • Are they encouraged to do as much for themselves as they can - and if so, can you see any examples of this?

Staff

It is important to note whether staff seem friendly and caring towards residents and whether they treat residents with respect:

  • Do they have any training and experience in dementia care?
  • Do they make time to sit and chat to residents, or talk to them while they are helping them with physical tasks such as washing and dressing?
  • Do they know about residents' backgrounds, habits and interests?
  • Will the person with dementia have a member of staff particularly responsible for their care?
  • Is there a member of staff who you can talk to about your own worries concerning the person with dementia?

Manager/head of home

A manager who is caring as well as efficient can make all the difference to a home:

  • Does the manager have a friendly manner with staff and residents?
  • Do they answer your questions openly, and seem to understand your concerns?
  • Do they have a knowledge of dementia, and can they deal with difficulties that may arise in an understanding way?
  • Is there a full assessment at home before a resident is admitted?
  • Does each resident have a care plan, and are their needs regularly reviewed?
  • Is the family carer consulted about the care plan, and about any proposed changes to it?