Finding a residential home

We understand that making the decision to move into a care home can be a difficult time.

We have pulled together the following information to help you make the decision that is right for you. This page details things that you might want to think about when moving in to a new home and the additional help that is available to you in order to review your options.

Alternatives to residential care

You may be able to remain in your own home, if this is what you want, with a little extra help. Your social services department can arrange for you to have a community care assessment. During this assessment someone will visit you to understand the type of help you need. The social services department may then agree to provide you with the help that you need in your home. If you would like to remain in your home you can insist that your local authority organises this assessment.

You may also find that making some adaptations to your home could make life much easier. Independent Age's guide to 'Help on the Home front' provides information on what is available and how to fund any changes you need.

Sheltered accommodation

Another option for those who may prefer to retain as much independence as possible, is to think about sheltered housing. Sheltered housing tends to be built in schemes of between 20 and 40 flats, in one development, and offers a balance of independence with the availability of support if it is required.

There is usually a resident warden, on site, and an alarm system linked to a 24-hour monitoring service. In addition, to this there are sometimes communal facilities such as a lounge or laundry where you can meet the other residents. Meals are not normally provided in this type of housing.

Sheltered housing can be run by the local authority, a housing association, or be privately owned. Your local council will have information about sheltered housing schemes in your area, or you will find them listed in the phone book.

Picking the right home for you

If you decide to move to a residential home, you will need to decide which type of home will suit your needs the best. A residential home is one where you would normally have the use of communal areas such as living rooms, TV lounges and gardens, there may also be activities and entertainment. You would have your own room, and would be served your meals in a dining room with the other residents. If you require assistance with your personal care, this could be provided.

If you unwell and are likely to require qualified nursing care over a longer period of time, a nursing home may be a better option for you. This fees for this type of home are more expensive, which you may need to consider if you are paying for your place yourself.

There are some homes available that offer a mix of both types of accommodation. This may be a good idea if you think that you may need more help in the longer term.

What to do next

First of all, contact your local social services department. If you have decided you want to stay in your own home they can will be able to arrange for your community care assessment.

If you are thinking about going into a residential or a nursing home, they can give you a list of the ones in your area. They can also tell you about any help you might be able to get with paying the fees, and help you arrange a visit or trial stay. You can find their telephone number in your local phone book.

Visiting a home

It is important to visit any home you are thinking of moving to before you make your decision. This can help you find out if it is somewhere that you would like to live and also if the staff at the home would be able to meet all of your needs.

Don't worry about asking lots of questions, it’s a big decision and it’s important to put your mind at ease before you make your choice.

If you are not sure about what sort of questions to task, we have pulled together a list of common questions. This list is not exhaustive, and you should ask about anything that you’d like more information on, no matter how trivial you feel that it is. The staff answer lots of questions every week, and will be happy to assist you in your choice of new home.

  • What are the total costs?
  • What happens if I can no longer meet the costs?
  • Will the staff of the home put information into large print or on tape for me?
  • Is the home in an area I would like to live, and could my friends and family visit regularly?
  • Can I have friends or relatives to stay for a night or so?
  • Can I have my own telephone?
  • Are outings ever arranged, for instance visits or for worship?
  • Can I make myself a drink or snack if I want to? Are the facilities for this accessible, and if not, would they be made so?
  • Can I keep my own pets?
  • Will I have my own room, and can I take my own things with me?

Where to go for further help

For more information about choosing a home, paying for care or other types of housing, contact the RNIB Helpline on [email protected] or 0303 123 9999. Your local Citizens Advice Bureau will be able to help with general advice too.

Independent Age provide free and impartial advice to older people and their carers about moving to residential care. You can call their advice line on 0800 319 6789 (8am-8pm Monday to Friday and 9am-5pm weekends and bank holidays) or email [email protected].

First Stop produce information about residential homes and fees, and sources of financial help. Call their Advice Line on 0800 377 7070 (Monday to Friday 9am-5pm) or email [email protected].

Age UK also have a care home information section within their website.