Relocating loved ones? Key care home checklist

Posted on: 16 September 2013 by Ray Hart

To help you consider the key issues when selecting a care home, Ray Hart, creator of Valuing Care Fees Calculator, talks us through a key checklist.

Care costs checklistAs the Autumn and Winter months begin, the number of people searching for care home placements for their relatives increases dramatically.  Having made the tough step of recognising the need to relocate older parents or in-laws, knowing where to start and what to look for in a residential or nursing home can be a minefield. 

Here is a checklist to help you consider the key points, and raise important questions to select the most comfortable, safe, and affordable care home.

Individual choice

It’s difficult for family members to see loved ones move into a home, and can be equally as distressing, if not more so, for the person making the transition. Relatives should guide the decision, so empower loved ones to make their own choices. Have honest and open discussions, and remember to emphasise the positives.


Collate as much information as possible from the shortlisted care homes.  Ask for brochures and sample contracts.  Search for inspection reports, reviews, comments or local newspaper articles on the internet. Speak with staff, relatives and residents while visiting the care homes; personal recommendations are invaluable.

Review finances

Both self-funders and local authority funded residents should request an assessment from their local authority to determine eligibility for financial assistance, and understand responsibilities.

Identify acceptable rates for homes in your area with Valuing Care Fees Calculator; a free comparator tool. Clarify what the fees cover and additional expenses. Remember quotes are negotiable.

Care needs

Consider the type and level of care needed immediately, and future changes. Investigate options in both nursing homes and residential homes. Is constant assistance needed, or is a greater level of independence required? 

Your way of life

One of the most important factors; the lifestyle. Is routine and set times for daily activities preferable or greater freedom as and when suits? 

Consider the food element.  Are meals prepared and cooked on the premises? Are fresh ingredients used?  Some chefs plan a different menu each day of the week so ask to see a menu, what are the choices?  Can you prepare food yourself if required?

If the social aspect is relevant consider facilities and activities. Some people require top of the range facilities; acres of landscaped gardens to walk around, dinner in the bistro, summer garden parties, and being surrounded by antique furniture. Others have more modest requirements, but ultimately, decisions are determined by what you want from a care home and what finances allow.

Other folk

Consider the people element. You may wish to be in a community with likeminded neighbours. Are there religious, ethnic or cultural requirements?

Are staff friendly? Are they treating residents with dignity and respect? Try to gather further information such as staff turnover, staff numbers and so on.

Family and friends

Some residents may wish to be left alone or have minimal disturbance from other residents’ visitors as well as their own! Others prefer to have a continuous stream of friends and family visiting, have private space to entertain their guests, or even the option of inviting their families to stay for dinner.

Grandchildren and pets are another factor; not to everyone’s desire, but a consideration nevertheless!


Establish the benefits and drawbacks of both staying in the same area, and moving closer to family.  Think about alternatives. If finances are tight consider a cheaper area easily accessible for family; widening the search area provides greater choice.

Think about where the home is situated. Would you like to wander into the local town or take guests for lunch at a nearby pub.  What is it you need in close proximity?

The right vibes

What sort of atmosphere does the care home project? Remember this is the place that you want to call home for a good number of years, so the warmth, friendliness and a caring ambience is essential.

The right choice

If instincts tell you it’s not quite right, don’t settle for the first care home viewed.  Consider a trial period before committing on a permanent basis; an opportunity to experience daily life and get to know everyone.  It’s a major decision, the right choice is crucial.


If you enjoyed this article Ray has also written 8 tips to save you money on long-term care costs for our sister site Olderiswiser.

Valuing Care Fees Calculator can be downloaded from the iOS App store.  Alternatively, it is available online at or

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