5 tips for choosing a care home

Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the Care Quality Commission (CQC)

Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the Care Quality Commission (CQC), gives her tips on what to look for in a care home:

1. Is it registered?

Residential and nursing homes must register with the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Check, and if it is not registered, it is operating illegally.

2. Read the report

The CQC report is based partly on the information the provider gives us and information from the local authority, but the most important thing we do is inspect. We look at paperwork, and we talk to people using the service, their relatives and carers, and others who might visit the home, like the GP.

Inspections cover five key questions:

  • Are they safe?
  • Are they effective?
  • Are they caring?
  • Are they responsive to people’s needs?
  • Are they well-led?

For each question, we decide whether the care is outstanding, good, requires improvement or is inadequate.

3. Make your own judgement

A good home should welcome a visit and a discussion of what your needs are

If a service you are considering ‘requires improvement’ or is ‘inadequate’, look at the report and see what the issue is. In some cases, you might decide that a service that ‘requires improvement’ but is close to you will meet your needs better than one further away.

As well as reading the report, go and visit. If there are areas of concern in the CQC report, talk to the manager to find out what they are doing about it.

If they understand there are problems and are taking action to put it right, that is reassuring. But if someone is dismissive of the report, I would be concerned.

4. Does it meet your requirements?

Everybody is an individual. Consider whether a home offers a certain specific service that you are looking for.

5. Go and visit

A good home should welcome a visit and a discussion of what your needs are.

While you are there, look at how staff interact with people. Is there is a friendly, relaxed atmosphere? Are people being treated with dignity and respect? Are they being engaged, or left to sit in front of a television with not much going on?

Look at the environment. It doesn’t have to be brand new and shiny, but it should be clean. More importantly, does it feel right? Do people have the option to bring in mementos to make their environment more personal? Don’t just look at the reception areas, take a look at the rooms, too.

Take your time, and make sure you feel confident that your loved one is going to have a good experience.

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