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4. Choosing a Care Home Provider

Help & advice

This article has been created to provide advice on what to look for and the questions you should ask when choosing a care home.

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Choosing a care home

It is important that you are comfortable in your choice of care home and that it has the right facilities to meet your requirements. There are a great number of care home providers out there and our directory helps you to understand who they are and what services and facilities they have to offer.

A lot of what you will need from a care home will be determined from the results of the medical needs assessment carried out by your local authority, but it is also important that personal choice plays a role in the selection of provider.

You may also want to make a choice between care homes that offer lots of communal social activities and those that allow you much more privacy. You could draw up a list of facilities you need or would prefer for a care home to have. You may want to do this in conjunction with a close family member.

How to find a care home

Different care homes offer different degrees of care. So you will first need to find out what type of care homes there are available to you locally, and what they offer. You can find all the care homes in your area here on, including the services and facilities which they have to offer, plus images and brochures. Also, importantly, you can find out what other service users have to say about their experiences with the provider, or alternatively:

  • The Adult Services department of your local authority
  • The Care Quality Commission has a directory of licenced providers in England which they regulate. If you are in Scotland contact the Care Inspectorate or in Wales contact The Care Council for Wales. allows you to search, compare and review prospective care homes like for like to allow you to find the best providers to meet your requirements. Our compare feature allows you to select up to ten providers who you think meet your requirements and then compare them side by side to find out who comes out the best for what you are looking for.

What to look for

Once you have your shortlist of care homes that you think will meet your specific needs, it is essential that you visit the care homes you are considering and meet the staff and residents. If possible you should visit these homes more than once and at different times of the day to get a real feel for the environment.

It is important that the care home’s medical facilities genuinely meet your health needs as set out in your medical assessment. Asking questions is the key to finding the right provider so do not be afraid to ask.

Some example questions:

  • Does the care home have the right medical facilities for my requirements?
  • Is the care home in a comfortable location for me?
  • Are there registered nurses present?
  • Are there enough staff to care for the number of residents?
  • Do the staff appear cheerful and efficient?
  • What training do the staff have?
  • Do the residents appear well looked after and cheerful?
  • Are there social events you can join in?
  • Do the residents mingle, or keep to themselves?

How long does the process of moving into a provider take?

Once you have made a choice as to the care home you would prefer, the question is – can it accommodate you? Some providers on make it known on their profile if they have available accommodation. There is a great and growing demand for care home places, so an opening at your preferred care home may not be available right now.

If this is the case, are you prepared or are you able to wait to see if a place becomes available at your preferred care home? It may well be that if your needs are immediate that you may have to compromise and go for the care home that most meets your needs and has a vacancy.

The cost of Care Homes

The cost of residential care can vary hugely by location and depending on whether you require nursing care or not. Your care needs assessment will have determined if you require nursing care or not. If you do, this increases the cost of your care. Consider that you may not need nursing care now, however this could change in the future. On average you can expect to pay more than £27,200 a year for a residential care home, rising to over £37,500 a year if nursing is required depending on the part of the country you are based.

Other care costs

Costs that you may still need to meet on top of a care home’s bill might include:

  • Telephone calls
  • Days out and activities
  • Clothing
  • Toiletries and personal items.

If your care is fully funded by your local authority, you are allowed to retain a Personal Expense Allowance to cover items like these. When looking for a home it is important to understand what is included in the fees and what isn’t.