New Beginnings: Advice on picking the best care home for a relative.

Choosing a care home for a family member can be an intimidating and complex process- fraught with emotional and logistical complexities.



Often, the decision to find a them permanent residential care is informed by a culmination of events that indicate worsening health and the need for ongoing, round-the-clock care. It is a decision that must be made in the best interests of a friend or relative who may not be in the most ideal position to make their own, and can therefore be a huge source of pressure and conflicted feelings for the family. Breaking the process down can keep one from being overwhelmed, and there are many resources online that contain fantastic advice for both initiating discussion of the issue and reaching a conclusive decision. Here we will discuss the essential steps in ensuring you choose the most appropriate care home for a family member in need.

-Discuss the matter in good time

Although getting older is not something many of us particularly enjoy mulling over, it is inevitable and delaying any talks regarding the consequences is not beneficial. Encouraging the conversation in a gentle and non-judgmental manner is essential. The longer the issues remain unconsidered, the more likely the silence is to be broken in an inappropriate or upsetting fashion. Communication must be mutual- active listening displays a level of respect that is key to a healthy discussion. It is important to be honest about your domestic and health-related situations, and not to avoid issues that will rear their head at a later, more inconvenient time.

-Create a shortlist of locations based upon the needs of your family member

There are many care homes to choose from, and initially it may be difficult to wrap your head around the differences between them all. A care needs assessment will help you decide on exactly what level of care your family member requires, and whether or not permanent residential care is the best course of action. When first considering different homes, consider the location, as close proximity to other family should be important. Visiting is extremely beneficial and can stave off feelings of abandonment and loneliness, so narrow down your choices to accommodate this. A tool such as CareHomeAdvisor can help you in your search.

One you have shortlisted the most accessible homes, the Care Quality Commission provide a fantastic resource in their comprehensive reports- detailing the services of numerous homes and how their services have developed over time. It is worth checking the sites of the homes themselves, as well as reviews on pages such as Care Home UK and Good Care Guide. Share all the available information with the family member in question- their opinion is absolutely to be considered with the utmost respect. Keep in mind that they may be spending the final years of their life there, and do not undermine the importance of their feelings in the selection process (even if they do not fully align with their needs).


-Visit your top choices- and don’t judge on appearances alone

Of course, the upkeep of a home will heavily inform your first impressions . A clean and well-maintained environment should be expected, and any signs of neglect are red flags. The facilities and services offered should corroborate with those on the home’s website- it might help to note down the things you are expecting to find on your visit, and the aspects that are of particular importance to your family member. But make sure to not only pay attention to the home itself, but to those working and living there. Observe the atmosphere and the moods of the residents, carers and nurses. The attitudes of the staff can be telling- they should be accommodating, friendly and attentive. When Team Locum places nurses and carers into work we carefully consider not only to their qualifications and working history, but also their personalities and mannerisms- these are imperative in judging their suitability for the role. An aesthetically well-presented and kept home means very little if the relationships within it are not harmonious. When you visit, be prepared with questions that cover both the financial and living aspects of the choice. Some homes allow trial stays- this may be an ideal chance for your family member to get a real feel for the place before committing. An unannounced visit, following an earlier planned trip, may also reveal whether or not your first impressions were accurate.


Once their residence begins, be reasonable about your expectations

Do not have unrealistic expectations of yourself- visiting every single day is not always possible and you shouldn’t feel guilty. Visits can be unpredictable and emotionally draining, so splitting the responsibility with other family members can provide some much-needed relief. Some homes allow personal phone-lines to be installed at an additional charge which can be hugely helpful for keeping communication regular and maintaining a sense of privacy for your family member. As time develops, try to become familiar with the staff- they work incredibly hard and will appreciate the acknowledgement of their efforts. This will also help you gain better focus of the overall picture of care- not just being reliant on the conversations between you and your relative.  Permanent residential care is not the right decision for everyone, and it’s important to align yourself with the potential fact that it may not play out the way you envisioned. Being as involved and informed as possible is all one can do, and not at the expense of your own mental and physical well-being.


Finding the right care home takes time, and requires effort, patience and understanding. When done right it can provide a fresh start for new residents, and mark the beginning of a rejuvenating and joyous chapter of their life.

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