Choosing the right care home

As well as offering the type of care you require, the care home you choose should also
provide the additional services you need, in an environment that’s right for you.

Finding the right care home can take some time. When you have made the decision
to move to a care home, there are a number of things to consider that will help you to
make the right choice.

As well as understanding the funding options available and what assistance you are
eligible for, you also need to ensure that the care homes you are considering, are able to
provide the level of support and care that you require.

You should visit a number of care homes to make sure they meet your current and
possible future needs. Most care homes have an “open door” policy and will
welcome you to visit any time. However, it’s important to meet the home manager so
it is best to contact the home in advance and make an appointment.

Make sure you spend plenty of time looking round and talking to the person in
charge, as well as other staff and residents. Don't be afraid to ask questions.

It will also help to take a checklist of important considerations, so that you can
compare different care homes against each other.

If you are interested in moving into a Safe Harbor care home are encouraged to
visit the home and sample the atmosphere and level of service. It is recommended that
any person admitted to the home stays for 2 weeks minimum to allow time for a full care
assessment of their needs, to get to know the staff and to adjust to new people and
their surroundings. A six-week trial period is always given before taking permanent

Care Home Location

  • Will it be easy for friends and family to get to the home?
  • Is the home convenient for shops, public transport and other local
  • Do the surroundings suit you?
  • Is there somewhere you can sit outside?

First impressions of a potential care home are imporant

  • Did you receive a warm and friendly welcome?
  • Were refreshments offered to you during your visit?
  • Is the atmosphere homely and welcoming?
  • Is the home clean and pleasantly furnished?
  • Does the home smell pleasant?
  • Do the residents seem happy and well cared for?


  • Can the care home offer suitable care for your needs?
  • Does each resident have their own personal care plan?
  • How often will your care requirements be reviewed?
  • Will the home be able to provide any future care needs?
  • Will you/your relatives be involved in making decisions about care?
  • Does the care home offer or arrange complementary therapies?
  • Which doctor can a resident see?
  • Are there visiting dentists and opticians?
  • How often does the hairdresser visit the home?
  • Can the home provide other services such as chiropody, occupational
    therapy and physiotherapy, if required?
  • Does the home have suitable assisted bathing facilities?
  • Can residents get up and go to bed when they want to?
  • Will relatives be advised as soon as a resident is taken ill?
  • Does the home offer specialist equipment essential for your care?

Communal areas

  • Is there more than one room where residents can sit or see visitors?
  • Is there a quiet lounge without a television?
  • Are there safe and secure gardens?
  • Are there arrangements for people who wish to smoke?
  • Is there easy access for wheelchairs and walking frames?
  • Are there toilets within easy reach of all parts of the home?
  • Are there handrails in the toilets and corridors?


  • Did you see the room that is available?
  • Can residents bring their own possessions and furniture?
  • Was it bright and well decorated?
  • Are en-suite facilities available?
  • Do bedrooms have a television?
  • Do bedrooms have a telephone point?
  • Can residents use a telephone in privacy?
  • Can residents lock their room?
  • Is there a lockable drawer or cabinet in the room?
  • Does each room have a nurse call system?
  • Can residents keep pets in their room and are they welcome in other parts of
    the home?
  • Can you change rooms if you want to?


  • Can residents eat when they want to?
  • Can meals be taken in a resident’s bedroom?
  • Is there a choice of menu for each meal?
  • Can special diets be catered for?
  • Can residents make themselves a drink?
  • Are snacks available at all times?
  • Are copies of current menus available for you to look at?
  • Are the menus rotated?
  • Does the chef consult the residents on their preferences?
  • Can residents choose who they sit with in the dining room?
  • Can relatives and friends have a meal with you?
  • For residents who need help with eating, are staff trained to do this

Please take a look at our Food and Nutrition page to find out more about what we offer 

Care Home Activities

  • Is there a weekly plan of activities? 
  • Did you see an example? Please see here 
  • Are residents consulted on what hobbies/interests they have?
  • Are special events e.g. birthdays celebrated in the home?
  • What form of exercise, if any, are residents encouraged to take?
  • Does the home take residents on trips outside the home?
  • Does the home have access to transport?
  • Is it possible to take part in activities outside the home?
  • Would the care home be able to help with transport to these?
  • Are daily newspapers available for residents?
  • Does the home have access to a library facility?
  • Can residents be taken to places of worship?
  • Can residents take part in the daily activities within the home if they wish e.g.
    cleaning, gardening, cooking?
  • Is there a residents’ committee?
  • Can relatives/friends help with activities?
  • Did you see any photographs of activities in the home

Please take a look at Safe Harbor's Care Home activities page


  • Did you observe staff being friendly and caring towards residents?
  • Does each resident have a member of staff particularly responsible for their
  • Do staff look as though they’ve got time to spend with residents?
  • What training do staff receive?
  • How do staff get to know about a new resident’s background, likes, dislikes?
  • Did you feel that individual needs and preferences could be met by the home
    when you visited?

Visitors to Care Homes

  • Are there set visiting times or are visitors welcome at all times?
  • Can children visit?
  • Can people bring in their pets to visit?
  • Can visitors stay overnight if they have travelled a long way or a resident is ill?


  • Was the home’s statement of purpose made available?
  • Was the latest home’s inspection report available?
  • Can a trial stay be arranged?
  • Is there a waiting list?
  • Is there a complaints procedure?
  • What is included in the weekly fee?
  • What is charged as ‘extras’?
  • Does the home insure a resident’s personal possessions?

Next Steps