Finding the right care home for your loved one is a crucial step in helping them live a happy and fulfilled life. Trusting the care of someone you love to someone else is tough, but making a well thought choice at this stage will help you feel confident in your actions. 

Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you visit a care home; the more information you can gather, the more you can feel certain that you’ve made a good choice. Here’s some advice on what to think about, and what to ask, when you visit a potential care home. 

Shortlisting care homes 
Talk to your loved one about what’s important to them in a care home. Would they like a lovely garden, do they want to be close to family or friends, or do they need specialist care of some sort? What do they consider to be ‘essential’ in a care home, and what is just ‘desirable’? Once you’ve understood their needs and requirements, you’ll find it easier to start drawing up a shortlist. 

Questions to ask yourself 
Allow plenty of time at the home, so you can really get a feel for the place. As you’re looking around, ask yourself:  

How does it sound? Listen for how care workers talk to residents. Are they friendly, compassionate and loving?

How does it smell? Care homes can sometimes have an odour – that’s to be expected to an extent. However, if the odours are overwhelming, it might not be getting cleaned as well as it should.

What is the food like? See if you can stay for a meal, so you and your loved one can see and taste the quality of the food. Older people may need encouragement to eat, so food should taste and smell delicious, as well as being visually appealing.

What are residents doing? A good care home will encourage residents to be active, social and busy. Seeing lots of people up and about is a good sign, as is a full calendar of activities and events.

What are the staff like? A busy staff is normal, but stressed and tired looking care workers are not. Listen in to care workers interacting with each other; if they’re being sharp or rude with their co-workers, chances are they’ll be sharp or rude with the residents too. 

Taking all this in will give you a good insight into how the care home performs. Think about your gut feeling about the home, and whether the people living and working there look happy and satisfied. 

Questions to ask the care home 
As well as doing your own investigations, make sure you ask plenty of questions about the care and facilities your loved one will have access to. Chances are you’ve got your own set of questions relating to their specific care needs, but think about some of these issues as well:

Will they have a phone in their room, or access to a phone?
How can they receive post?
How can you submit feedback?
When will you be briefed on how they are doing; are there relatives meetings?
Are there set times that relatives can visit; can children or pets be brought in?Can guests stay for meals, and what is the cost? 
Can they stay overnight?
What security measures are in place to keep valuables safe?
What activities are on offer for your loved one to take part in?