Considering a care home? Checklist

If you, or a loved one, needs looking after 24 hours a day for your personal care or medical needs you, or they may be considering moving to a residential or nursing care home.

We've created some tips to help you prepare, know what to look for and what questions to ask. Being clear on expectations and understanding choices available to you will help you make the best decision for your long-term care and support or those of a loved one.

Make sure you're getting the care you actually need

  • Speak to Surrey Council County's Adult Social Care Information and Advice Service about your care choices. You might find out about options you hadn't considered to help you stay at home such as live-in care. This is a free and confidential service available to all residents.
  • Ensure the provider carries out an assessment of your needs and discusses this with you or your family to make sure you need the level of care provided in a care home.
  • If you chose to fund a place for yourself in a care home but you don't have residential or nursing care needs, Surrey Council County will not continue to fund the same care if your money runs out.

Shop around for the right care home

  • What accommodation can residents expect in the home? Are rooms en-suite, single, shared, furnished or unfurnished, contain a television, telephone and internet connections? Do the rooms vary in size and price?
  • What facilities and services (including activities and entertainment) are available to residents in the home?
  • Have a look at useful resources and guides produced by organisations like Age Uk and Independent Age on how to choose a care home (a list of resources is provided at the bottom of this leaflet).

Make sure you're clear on the quality and type of care provided

  • Ask for the home's latest overall inspection rating from the Care Quality Commission and a copy of their most recent performance assessment inspection report.
  • Ask about the specific care needs your home is registered or able to cater for (e.g. nursing, residential, dementia, end of life, rehabilitation).
  • Is it a home that you could stay in for life? Make sure you ask what would happen if you developed nursing needs or were diagnosed with a long-term condition like dementia.
  • If you are looking at care home for a relative and would like to continue to care for them in some capacity, discuss how the care home can support this.

Ask about any potential or hidden costs

  • Make sure you ask for an accurate and up-to-date indication of the total weekly fee rates charged, inclusive of all applicable taxes (for example, the standard gross weekly fee). Are there any extra costs that you hadn't planned for? Is a deposit required and how will the deposit be refunded when the resident leaves?
  • Ask for an explanation of how a self-funded resident's fees may change after they have moved into the care home. Is there an annual uplift to care fees? How is this calculated?
  • If the home says it accepts local authority-funded residents and other state-funded residents (e.g. NHS-funded residents), will the home accept the council's usual fee rate or would a third-party top-up be required to cover their care costs?

Be clear about what happens if your money runs out

  • Always seek independent financial advice before moving into a care home. The Society of Later Life Advisors can help with independent advice. All care homes should require prospective self-funding residents to certify that they can pay their fees for a minimum period or agree to a financial assessment as a condition of moving in. Surrey Council County does not act as a guarantor and will not pay for any care home debts.
  • Are you sure your money will stretch far enough in this care home? If you become eligible for Adult Social Care funding during the minimum period, will the care home accept Surrey Council County's usual rates for the cost of your care?
  • It may be possible for a third-party to top up the local authority's usual fee rate. However, do consider what will happen if the person paying the top-up can no longer afford to do so? Will the care home accept Surrey Council County's usual fee rates?
  • If the local authority fee rate is not sufficient or a top-up payment cannot be arranged through the local authority, the care home could ask you to move to a less expensive room or give notice.
  • If you have a nursing care need, ask the care home provider to clarify the relationship between the indicative fees quoted and the NHS Funded Nursing Care (FNC) contribution that some residents may be eligible for. FNC pays for the nursing care component of nursing home fees. If you are no longer eligible for FNC, Surrey Council County cannot make up this cost.

Useful Resources

Age UK: Choosing the Right Care Home For You and Care Home Checklist

Dementia UK: Considering a Care Home for a Person with Dementia