Choosing a care home for a family member is one of the most important and delicate things you will ever have to do for your parents. Entrusting a home with the care of one of your loved ones is a difficult process.

Here are a few pointers to follow when choosing a care home:


Firstly, it is important to establish how long the business has been running.

Experience and length of service count a lot in this type of business. Ask the manager about who owns the business, qualifications of the matron and managerial staff. Has the owner ever run a care  home before? Does the home own the premises or are there just tenants (here today gone tomorrow)?


Good nursing is all about the staff. Happy and well-trained staff all amount to good nursing care. Spend time with the matron and sisters and see how they interact with the staff in charge of the care. Ask what criteria they adopt for the employment and training of the staff. Do they have means of monitoring the progress and performance of each staff member? How long the staff members have been with the home is another very important issue. Is all of staff full-time or are they temporary/volunteers?

There are four main categories of nursing staff; in hierarchical order these are registered nurses, staff nurses, nursing auxiliaries and care workers. Ask the home which categories of nurses they utilise and for what reasons.




How many staff members are on each shift is a vital factor in determining the level of care that a care home can give. Add up all the nursing staff members on a shift. Divide the total number of residents in the home by the number of staff members and you will get a number. A small number means that the home offers lots of staff, a big number means that there might be too few staff members.



Ask the matron to show you how they go about doing their day-to-day care. Ask them to show you one of their resident files; see whether the files are neatly compiled and whether there is comprehensive and detailed information recorded about the resident. Ask the home how the medicines are administered and whether there are charts and books where the administered drugs are recorded. Does the home balance the stocks of schedule 5,6,7 drugs?

Ask the home whether they belong to any association which upholds high standards in the industry. This is always a good indication of how seriously they take their work.




Food constitutes an important part of the life in a home and is an important component of a resident’s well-being and care. Ask the manager of the home whether you can have a look at the kitchen and the pantry. See how clean the kitchen is maintained. Ask to see the menus and discuss your relative’s specific requirements and likes and dislikes. Does the home cater for special diets? Ask who designs the menus whether are designed and well-balanced for elderly people.

You may also want to check the sluice room and the laundry room to see how clean and hygienic these room are.


Does the home offer in-house entertainment? It has been proven, for example, that patients with senile dementia can benefit tremendously in an environment in which they are made to feel welcome and where they are kept busy. Find out whether the home offers occupational therapy programs.


Before entering into any agreement with a care home ask to see copies of all agreements that you will be required to sign. Ascertain whether you have the right to terminate the agreement should you be unsatisfied with the service and care and determine which costs you will incur should you terminate this agreement.

Should the home require an upfront capital payment or consideration find out a little about the company’s liquidity and ability to survive in the future. There have been cases of homes and villages closing down and residents loosing their investments.

Ask the home to give you an indication of what increases they have applied over the years to the residential fees and ask how the increases are determined. This will help you with budgeting costs.

Ask the home to specify exactly which items are included in their fee and which items are not.