Questions to ask when looking for a care home

Figures from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found that people find choosing the right care home more stressful than making decisions about their children's school or nursery. Although this may be surprising to many, it's not hard to see why people find selecting the right care option for themselves or their loved one difficult.

Not only is the subject of care complicated, especially if you or your loved one has specific health needs, but considering the future is vital. Of course, the care solution should suit their needs right now, but it must also be able to evolve alongside changing health needs.

Open days are a prime opportunity to not only see what a particular care home looks like and can offer, but also to ask any important questions.

But what sort of questions should you ask? The first time many people consider care is when there's a pressing need either due to their own health needs or those of a loved one. This means many are at a loss when it comes to what care support is available.

At Barchester Healthcare, we’ve taken feedback from visitors of our homes to create a checklist to help prompt questions you might have during your visit. Knowing it can be a daunting experience, our easy guide teaches you who to meet, what to see and what to ask during your visit.

Here are just some of the questions it is sensible to ask when visiting a potential care home:

What care is available?

Perhaps the most obvious element is finding out about what types of care are available. If there are specific health needs that need to be catered for, check with the care home team that this will be possible; for example, how often are there nurses at the home? What happens if there's an emergency? How will next of kin be contacted if necessary?

Look out for adaptations that make it easier for people to get around; this is key when choosing the right care home. Being conscious of whether there are handrails, ramps and other facilities that make it easier for people with different physical abilities to get around will help to determine whether the care home is suitable, not just for now but in the future too.

How are decisions about care made?

For many people, the biggest adjustment - and a major source of confusion - is a whole new group of people are now involved in care decisions. Ask about this process, and how everyone, especially the potential resident, is kept up to date on such matters.

This process can vary, and it's common for one doctor or medical professional to not communicate with another unless they're given express permission. Understanding the process and talking to the care home team about what you'd like to happen is the best way of deciding whether it's right for you and your loved one.

What training/qualifications do the staff have?

There are usually a variety of healthcare professionals in one care home, some with medical qualifications, others with non-medical training and some with no official training, such as volunteers. To feel comfortable with your decision, it's important you understand who will be on hand at the care home and who is easily contactable. It is also important to question whether there are physiotherapists or activities coordinators and how often they are on site.

Do check out our full visiting a Care Home guide for the full checklist, free to download. For more support about finding the right care home for you, or to ask any questions not found on the checklist, click here to find your nearest home.