Choosing a care home with confidence

Written by: Jane Blackwell Published: May 15, 2023

Choosing a care home, whether for yourself or an older loved one, is one of the most important life decisions you will ever make. However, it is important to find somewhere that provides the best care as well as feeling comfortable and safe.

Froxfield carer with resident

When you are looking for a care home, the first and most important step is to go and have a look round. See if the home is what you expect, and most importantly, if it is a good fit for you and your loved one. Like all homes, care homes have personality and characters so it’s really important to judge for yourself whether it suits your needs and your individuality.

You can meet the manager and some of the staff,  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.

Following that all important step, here is our guide to choosing a care home 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 assessment’s outcome, a care plan will be agreed with you. 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 it. 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 registered nurse on the premises.

Most of Brendoncare’s homes  can offer a range of different care packages, tailored to individual needs. These include residential and nursing care, as well as respite stays, end of life care and rehabilitation services. Several of our homes also offer dedicated care for people living with dementia. You can find out more about types of care in our resources section.

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 seven homes are spread across southern England with five in Hampshire, one in Wiltshire and one in West Sussex.

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 where you can see the CQC ratings for all of their homes in one place. All Brendoncare homes are proud to be rated ‘Good’ by the CQC.

6) Check infection control procedures

Cleanliness, hygiene and infection control are incredibly important in all care homes.

In Brendoncare’s homes, hand hygiene and appropriate use of PPE (personal protective equipment) are taken very seriously. We are used to controlling infections, but following the pandemic, you may find that different measures continue to be in place across our locations.

7) Look at social media

The homes’ social media pages will give you a feel for activities, people and life in general especially at the one in which you may be interested.  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?

On Brendoncare’s Facebook  page, we always post photos and stories from our homes as well as our community clubs, showing activities and celebrating special occasions, as well as providing updates on news from across our services. All our homes’ website pages feature a selection of photos from their Facebook pages.

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.

Some care providers may offer a virtual tour of the home if you are unable to visit in person. In some cases, this may be a video on their website.

At Brendoncare, each of our homes’ website pages feature a video or virtual tour.  We would be very pleased to welcome you for an in-person 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. Wherever possible, 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. Getting involved with life in the care home will make settling in much easier.

You can find out more about the care provided in Brendoncare’s homes, on the individual homes pages. For more information about any of our services, please call our Central Office on 01962 852133 or email