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Finding a Care Home in the UK


It can be an upsetting and stressful time when you are needing to look for a care home. Whether this is for yourself or for a loved one, there are lots of things to consider, different options of care available and questions you need to ask. It can be overwhelming to know where to start when it comes to finding the right care home in the right environment, especially because what works for one person might not work for another. In this blog post we will guide you through the process of finding a care home in the UK, including the best places to search for them, different things you should consider before choosing one, and the questions you should be asking yourself/your loved one and also the care home staff  when you visit a home for the first time.

What is a care home?

A care home is an alternative option to home care, where instead of a carer or nurse coming into your or your loved ones personal home to help with personal care and day to day tasks, the person in need of help moves into a residential home instead, and receives around the clock care and support from care workers there instead. This is a good option if those who currently help the person are struggling to manage their needs, or are concerned for their safety being in their home alone. Whilst home care promotes independence, care homes also try to maintain it too, just in different ways.

How many care homes are there in the UK?

There are approximately 17,000 care homes in the UK alone, with around 12,000 of these being residential care homes and 5,000 nursing homes. There is a distinction between a residential care home and a nursing home- nursing homes provide accommodation as well as healthcare for those who require nursing services. Residential homes, on the other hand, provide help with more basic day to day tasks, like getting up, getting dressed and moving around. Being able to differentiate between the two types will help you choose the right one for you or your loved one, as each caters to different specific needs.

How does payment work with care homes?

Being able to pay for a care home place is one thing that tends to worry those who are looking into it as an option. It can be expensive, but you may be eligible for financial help either from your local council or from the NHS, depending on the personal circumstances of the individual looking at going into care. You can find out more about care home funding and what you might be eligible for/what you might have to pay by looking online and inputting your information into a calculator. Bear in mind that fees will vary based on where in the UK you live and which specific care home you are looking at.

How to go about finding a UK care home

With over 17,000 to choose from, an understandably overwhelming number, how are you supposed to narrow down your care home search? Obviously the first thing is to narrow them down based on where in the UK you are based, many areas have more than one local care home, but researching which ones are closest to you is a great place to start the hunt, even if you don’t know a thing about them or what they offer just yet.

From here, it is a good idea to make a list about what you/your loved one needs from a care home. Do you need somewhere that can cater to a specific form of care, like for dementia, palliative care, and so on? Would you rather be in a larger or smaller care home? What kind of things do you want to still be able to do when you are there? Having a narrowed down list of what you need from a care home puts you in the best position to choose the right one for your needs and requirements, and you can also use this list to narrow down your search too.

You can also ask any friends or family who live nearby and might have some experience with care homes in your local area- word of mouth is always a good start when it comes to getting a feel for these type of things, but remember that everyone’s care requirements and personalities are different so what works for one person may not necessarily be the best choice for you or your loved one, but it is still helpful to have recommendations and reviews that you know you can trust before you start the search process.

As you may or may not already know, all care homes in England are regulated and monitored by the Care Quality Commission, or CQC. They basically perform what is like a school’s Ofsted inspection on the care home to ensure that certain high standards are met and maintained. The official CQC  website is a great place to search for care homes in your area- you can apply filters and search criteria, read their inspection reports and get a feel for how a certain care home performs.

You can also find suitable care homes on websites like Care UK which shows you results for care homes in your local area when you search your location and the type of care you are looking for. Tools like this are great for the initial search, and you can narrow them down with further research from here. 

What should I look for in a care home?

So if you have done the above steps and narrowed down a list of potential care homes, the next step is to think about the things it will be providing you. Before you begin the process of looking around the care homes you are considering, it is helpful to have a list of things in mind that you can ask them, and also bear in mind when you are comparing them. It is important that the care home meets the specific needs and requirements of the individual, that it has spaces available, and if it doesn’t then how long the waiting list is, that you have spoken to members of staff or a manager and are happy with the way you were treated and that it has a good CQC inspection that you have read through yourself. Again, use the CQC website to find these.

There are also certain questions that you should ask when you go and look at a care home, things that go hand in hand with the above considerations to ensure that the home you are opting for is the right one for you or your loved one. Consider asking yourself, and members of staff where applicable, the following questions when you go around:

  • Is the environment friendly and welcoming? Can you see yourself/your loved one living there and being happy?
  • Are the rooms nice and inviting? Can you take your own personal decorations and items in there with you?
  • Are the staff welcoming and friendly?
  • Is it easily accessible to local amenities and for friends and family to come and visit?
  • If you require wheelchair accessibility, is this adequate enough?
  • What kind of training do the staff undertake?
  • Are families involved in the care plans of the residents? Are you happy with the type of care that you will be receiving?
  • Is the home safe and secure?
  • What type of activities can you do day to day? This is important for quality of life and happiness when living in a care home.
  • What is the food like? Does it change often?
  • What are the fees for the home? It is important to have a full understanding of how payment works and what exactly you need to pay and when.


When you have made the decision that you or a loved one needs to go into care, it can be an overwhelming and stressful time trying to find the best care home that suits your/their needs. In this blog post we have discussed exactly what a care home is, what type of care you can expect to receive from them, and how to go about finding the best one in your local area. Having a good idea of your/your loved ones needs, wants and requirements are all good starting points when you begin the search, as this puts you in a better position for finding a suitable care home. There are lots of great online resources to help you find the best care home, like the CQC websites, which can help narrow down the search based on your requirements and location, as well as giving you an idea of how well the care home runs and operates. Looking around a care home for the first time will give you the best feel for it, and asking important questions about the day to day routine and environment will aid your decision making as well.

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