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LottieChoosing a care home is a big decision. You’ll want to consider everything from location and budget to facilities and care needs to make sure your loved one feels comfortable and happy.

However, deciding where to start can feel overwhelming. So, to help with your search, we’ve partnered with digital care marketplace, Lottie, to bring you nine tips for finding the right care home for your loved one.

Lottie is a free service committed to helping families and retirees find the UK’s best care homes and retirement living communities.

1. Consider the type of care your loved one needs

There are several types of care homes, including residentialnursingdementia, and respite homes. And the right home for your loved one will depend on their care needs.

Residential care homes are best suited to people who need help with personal care; for example, with everyday tasks like eating, dressing, and getting out of bed. For those with health conditions that require specialist medical care or support, a nursing or dementia home will probably be the right choice.

Meanwhile, respite care homes work well for people who only need a short-term stay.

For more information on the different types of care homes available, head over to Lottie’s website. It’s worth noting that the home you choose must be able to accommodate your loved one’s current care needs, as well as future needs.

If you’re unsure what type of care your loved one needs, you might like to speak to one of Lottie’s friendly care experts. They’ll be able to help you decide on the most suitable type of care home.

You can also book a care needs assessment through your local council. This free, professional test will provide you with a specific care plan for your loved one.

2. Choose a location

Being close to friends and family so that they can visit is a priority for many people when it comes to care home location.

For some, this might mean staying in their local area, while for others who live further away, moving into a care home might provide an opportunity to move closer.

It’s also worth considering what amenities would be most handy to have nearby, such as shops, restaurants, cafes, public transport links, and local places to explore.

Once a location is decided, you can search for relevant care homes in that area.

3. Understand your budget and check if you’re eligible for funding

Before you begin searching for a care home, it’s important to understand your budget.

Care home costs vary significantly depending on the level of support needed. Generally speaking, the cost of living in a care home covers things like rent, utility bills, food, and laundry. But things like on-site hair appointments or visits from medical professionals might come with additional costs.

You can find further information about current care home costs and care fees on Lottie’s website.

There are also funding options available. A financial needs assessment can be used to determine whether or not you’re entitled to financial support when paying for care. This assessment is carried out by the local council and takes into account things like your savings and income. It’s carried out after a care needs assessment.

The NHS also offers funding support options for those paying for nursing home fees, including NHS-funded nursing care and NHS continuing healthcare.

Lottie has more information on care home funding on their website.

Find the UK's best care options all in one place

Not sure where to start when looking for care for your loved ones? Find the UK’s best care options handpicked and vetted by the experts on Lottie.

Lottie’s team of experts will also help you navigate through every aspect of finding the right care.

Find the right care

4. Filter care homes by accommodation style

Accommodation styles can differ greatly between care homes. So, deciding what kind of setup will best suit your loved one’s needs can be useful for filtering through options.

Some care homes offer private rooms with en-suite facilities and lounge areas, which are ideal for people who enjoy their own company. Some might even have their own room or balcony that leads onto a private garden or patio.

Other homes might have several bedrooms sharing a communal space and one bathroom, which might be better suited to those who thrive off of being with others.

It’s also worth asking whether a care home allows residents to decorate their rooms with their own furniture and personal possessions. For many people, this helps to make their space feel more homely and can make the process of moving into a care home much smoother.

On Lottie, you can filter your search to include care homes that offer private terrace areas and allow people to bring their own furniture.

Filter care homes by accommodation style

5. Make sure the facilities, activities, and food fit your loved ones needs

A care home must be able to meet your loved one’s care needs, but it’s equally important to consider whether it suits their lifestyle and personality. Making sure that things like food, facilities, and activities are the right fit for them will be important for keeping your loved one happy long-term.

Communal area facilities are a key thing to consider as these are where many residents spend much of their time. On Lottie, you can filter your search to include everything from activity rooms and bistro-style restaurants to hair and beauty salons, libraries, and computer rooms.

If an outside space where your loved one can get some fresh air and enjoy the sun during the warmer months is important, you can also search specifically for care homes with beautiful green spaces.

Many care homes offer a range of fun activities for residents to join in with. These vary from home to home, but can include anything from book clubs and flower arranging classes to quiz nights and visits from local schoolchildren.

The majority of homes listed on Lottie offer many of these activities, but you can find out specifics on each care home page. For example, Shinfield View Care Home in Berkshire offers activities including baking and cooking classes and visits from children.

Lastly, while it might not be the first thing that comes to mind, food should be a consideration when it comes to choosing a care home for someone. Good food is one of life’s great joys, and making sure that your loved one will be fed healthy, nutritious meals is important.

Signs of a high-quality care home are those that provide residents with drinks, snacks, and three delicious, substantial meals a day. Food should be freshly prepared and menus changed regularly. To get a proper feel for this, you can ask to sample the food when visiting potential care homes.

6. Consider your loved one’s accessibility needs

The majority of care homes have adjustments like ramps, lifts, and widened doorways in place to allow people with limited mobility or disabilities to move around comfortably. However, if your loved one has specific accessibility needs, it’s important to double-check whether care homes can accommodate these.

It’s also worth asking the home how many parking spaces are available and how far away nearby facilities, such as shops and cafes, are. If they aren’t within walking distance, will care home staff be able and/or willing to drive your loved one there?

Find the UK's best care options all in one place

Not sure where to start when looking for care for your loved ones? Find the UK’s best care options handpicked and vetted by the experts on Lottie.

Lottie’s team of experts will also help you navigate through every aspect of finding the right care.

Find the right care

7. Make a shortlist of potential homes, and check waiting times and inspection reports

Once you’ve considered your loved one’s budget, care, and personal needs, you might find yourself with a choice of potential care homes. To avoid wasting time visiting homes that aren’t suitable, it can help to check waiting lists and inspection reports.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is responsible for inspecting, regulating, and reviewing care homes in England. You can find a care home’s most recent inspection report on the CQC inspection page or request this from the home directly.

If you live in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the Care InspectorateCare Inspectorate Wales, and the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority are responsible for regulating care homes, respectively.

You can check care home availability online or over the phone directly on Lottie. If there’s a long waiting list, you might prefer to look elsewhere.

8. Visit any potential care homes and have questions prepared

While it’s possible to gather plenty of useful information about care homes online and over the phone, it’s often not until you see them in person that you’re able to get a true feel for them.

When visiting a care home, look out for clues that point towards the residents’ quality of life. For example, do residents seem happy and well cared for? Are the facilities clean and well-kept? Are the staff welcoming? And would this environment suit your loved one’s needs?

Many people find it useful to have questions prepared to ask care home management and staff during their visit. Questions around the care home contract, the potential room, and what social activities are on offer are a good place to start. Staff should be welcoming and able to answer any queries you have.

You can book care home viewings by emailing or calling in advance. If there’s a care home you’re particularly interested in, you might find it useful to visit at different times throughout the week for a broader perspective of what life in the home looks like.

If you’re unable to view a care home in person, many offer virtual viewings and, in some cases, staff members might be able to come to you.

9. Remember to include your loved one in the decision-making process

Last but not least, one of the most important things you can do when finding the right care home for a loved one is to include them in the decision-making process.

It can be easy to fall into organisation mode and want to sort out everything yourself. But it’s key that your loved one feels involved in the decision-making process around their care – even in circumstances where you’ll be the one arranging it. Everyone wants to be able to decide where they live and what care they receive; this doesn’t change with age.

Remember, your loved one might feel as though they’re losing independence and control by moving into a care home. But feeling seen and understood can make a world of difference to how well they manage the transition.

Find the UK's best care options all in one place

Not sure where to start when looking for care for your loved ones? Find the UK’s best care options handpicked and vetted by the experts on Lottie.

Lottie’s team of experts will also help you navigate through every aspect of finding the right care.

Find the right care

Final thoughts…

Finding the right care home for your loved one is important because it can have a significant impact on their health and quality of life.

There’s plenty to consider and you might feel unsure where to start, but Lottie can help you find the best care for you. Head over to their website for further information and guidance on care.

Alternatively, you can visit the care section of our website. Here, you’ll find information on everything from paying for care to the support available for carers.

Do you have any more tips on finding the right care home that you’d like to share? We’d be interested to hear from you in the comments below.