Choosing a care home with confidence

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Choosing a care home with confidence
Choosing a care home, whether for yourself or an older loved one, is one of the most important life decisions you will ever make. It’s important to find somewhere that provides the best care, and that feels comfortable and safe.

In normal times, if you are considering a move to a care home, a visit to the home can alleviate many of the worries you may have. You can meet the manager and some of the staff, and see for yourself how happy the residents are, as well as being able to see your room and its all-important view from the window.

But we are not living in normal times at the moment, and at Brendoncare, we’ve been finding new ways to show you what life is really like in our home. Here is our guide to choosing a care home and finding your way through all of the current coronavirus restrictions, in ten easy steps.

1. Get a Care Needs Assessment

If you think you need help with every day life, or if you are concerned about someone close to you, the first step is to work out what type of care is needed. You may be able to work this out for yourself or with your family, or you may need to get a free care needs assessment .

If you need to arrange a care needs assessment, you should contact the adult social services department at your local council. You can choose to have your assessment carried out over the phone, online or face to face. Depending on the outcome of your assessment, a care plan will be agreed with you, and there will be a means test to if you will be funding the care yourself, or how much you need to contribute towards your ongoing care and support.

2. Think about funding

Paying for care is a big financial commitment, so make sure you know from the start how you will be funding your care. The cost will vary depending on your location and care needs. You may also be eligible for support from your local council or from the NHS.

Everyone’s situation is different, and we have put together our own useful guide to the key aspects of funding your care, including an explanation of our unique Care for Life promise.

3. Decide on the best type of care home

It’s important to choose a home that can provide the right type of care for yourself or your loved one. Generally speaking, care homes fall into two different categories:

Residential homes provide accommodation and personal care, including washing, dressing and managing medicines.

Nursing homes provide the same services but they also have at least one qualified nurse on the premises.

Most of Brendoncare’s homes  are able to offer a range of different care packages, tailored to individual needs, including residential and nursing care, as well as respite stays, end of life care and rehabilitation services. Several of our homes also offer specialist care for people living with dementia .

4. Find the right location

Whether it’s for yourself or a loved one, finding the right location is really important. Do you/they want to be near family, or stay in the area they know? If public transport is a consideration, have a look at a map to see how easy it will be for family members to visit.

Brendoncare’s homes are spread across the south of England, with several in Hampshire, and others in Wiltshire, Sussex, Buckinghamshire, London and Devon.

5. Read care home inspection reports

Care homes in England are inspected by the CQC (Care Quality Commission), to ensure they are providing care that is safe, caring, effective, responsive to people’s needs and well led. There are four different ratings a care home can achieve: Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement and Inadequate.

You can search for reports for individual homes, or alternatively by searching for a particular care provider such as Brendoncare , you can see the CQC ratings for all of their homes in one place.

6. Check infection control procedures

Cleanliness, hygiene and infection control have always been important in care homes, but never more so than in the current situation.

In all Brendoncare homes, hand hygiene and appropriate use of PPE (personal protective equipment) are taken very seriously. We are used to controlling infections, but in light of the pandemic, we have stepped up all of our procedures. Cleaning is more thorough, and staff wear additional PPE to protect themselves and the residents. However, although they may be wearing masks, they are still providing the same personal care to each resident.

7. Look at social media

You will be able to get a feel for activities, people and life in general at the home you’re interested in, by the kind of content they post on social media. Do some research and find their Facebook page – if there are photos of residents, do they look happy? Are they interacting with staff and each other? What can you tell from the background?

For example, on Brendoncare’s Facebook  page, we aim to include photos and stories from our homes as well as our friendship clubs , showing activities and celebrating special occasions, as well as providing updates on news from across our services.

8. Have a list of questions

Consider the things that are important to you. What do you need to know about daily life and routines in the home? How can you tell if it will cater for your needs? Plan a list of questions in advance – here are a few ideas:

  • Can the home cater for your dietary needs?
  • Does the home have a varied programme of activities?
  • What is the ratio of staff to residents?
  • Do residents have a named member of staff who is responsible for their care?
  • What arrangements are in place to support travel to hospital or clinics for regular appointments?
  • Can residents choose their own routine, such as when they get up or go to bed?
  • Are there restrictions on visiting times or number of visitors?

9. Arrange a visit

You wouldn’t buy a house without viewing it first. The same applies to choosing a care home. Ordinarily, you would be able to arrange to visit and have a tour at any time, but due to the current coronavirus restrictions, this may not be possible.

Some care providers may be able to offer a virtual tour of the home. In some cases, this may be a video on their website. At Brendoncare, each of our home managers has recorded a short video with some information about the home, and they will be able to send you a link to view these. However, the team at the home will also be happy to give you a video tour, showing you communal areas, bedrooms and the view from the window.

10. Settling in

Once you’ve decided on the home that suits you, moving in needn’t be a daunting task. If you can, planning ahead will make the move a lot easier. Find out if you can bring favourite furniture or ornaments with you – your own comfy armchair can make things feel more familiar. Make a list of the things you’d like to take with you, and talk to staff at the home.

Take a look at this guide for some more tips on what to consider when planning your move.

It may take a little while to feel completely at home, and in normal circumstances, getting involved with life in the care home will make settling in much easier. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, there may be some restrictions on how quickly you can start to join in, so make sure you are aware of these before you move in.

For the safety of all residents and staff in Brendoncare homes, newly admitted residents will be asked to remain in their rooms for the first 14 days. We know this is not the way anyone would wish to start this new phase of their life, but this is in line with current government guidance. We will review this as official guidance is updated.

However, making a new resident feel welcome and at home is also very important to us, and this is why we are trialling a ‘settling in’ process  for new residents in some of our homes, where a relative can also move in alongside their loved one for up to two weeks, free of charge, using an empty room within the home.


You can find out more about the care provided in Brendoncare’s homes, along with a short video showing a relative’s perception of our services, at https://www.brendoncare.org.uk/care. For more information about any of our services, please feel free to telephone our Central Office on 01962 852133 or email enquiries@brendoncare.org.uk.

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