About care homes and nursing homes

Considering your options

Finding the right care is important; it will change the way you live now and the quality of your life in the future.

If you are finding it difficult to cope at home, a care home is one option. You could also have help to allow you to go on living in your own home. The best place to start, before making any decision, would be to contact Hampshire County Council for an assessment of your care needs. Even if you are not eligible for support from the Council, they will be able to advise you about your options.

You might be able to have your home adapted to make it easier to get around. Or you may be in a position to consider downsizing. This could release equity which may supplement your income and make it easier to have some help with housework and maintenance. See our Managing at home information section. There are also other housing options, such as extra care or sheltered housing, which you could consider. 

You will also need to consider the cost of paying for care.

The Association of Independent Care Advisers  represents organisations based in the UK dedicated to helping people identify the most appropriate type of care service and care provider for their individual needs. Telephone 01483 203066.

The National Careline provides support and information to the elderly, their carers and families on a range of issues. Helpline 0800 0699 784.

Choosing the right home

If you think that you need more personal care, or nursing care, and do not feel that staying at home is right for you, moving into a care home can be a good option. It can offer the opportunity to make new friends and provide a safe, comfortable place to live.

You will want to consider:

Your care needs
Some residential care homes offer nursing care and some do not, so it is important to understand what kind of care you need. Talk to your doctor or hospital consultant for professional advice if you think you need nursing care. You will also need to know what type of care you will need (for example: for old age, physical disability, dementia, learning disability) so that you can focus on homes that are registered for these care needs.

Long and short stay care
As well as providing residential care, some homes offer short term stays for convalescence care, or to give you or your carer a break. Residential care can often last a long time so you need to bear in mind the implications of any move including its financial impact at the beginning. You may want to think about looking for homes that offer both personal and nursing care so that you could stay in the same home if you need nursing care in the future.

Where you live
Choosing a care home in the same area as you currently live in would mean that you would still be able to see your friends and keep your doctor. If your family live in another area, you might want to move to a home nearer to them.

The size of the home and facilities offered
Care homes vary greatly in their size, some have as many as 100 people with many facilities while others are more like a small family home with just have one or two residents. There are also some homes that are willing to accommodate couples in their double rooms.

You may have a pet that you would like to take with you. You need to check whether this would be possible. If not, ask if the home will allow others to bring pets in to visit you. If you cannot keep your pet with you, you might ask a family member, neighbour or friend to help.
Other sources of help:
Dogs Trust 
The Cinnamon Trust

Inspection reports
All care homes and nursing homes must be registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) who regulate and inspect them. Before arranging to visit any homes, search for the home on the CQC website to check that they are still registered with CQC and to read their latest inspection report. Our care homes search results link to the latest reports for each home.

Arranging to visit homes

1. Speak to the manager and check:

  • they offer the kind of care you want
  • they are registered to provide the type of care you need
  • what their charges are and what they cover
  • they have the kind of room you are looking for
  • whether they have a vacancy
  • whether they are happy to arrange a trial period
2. Book a visit

Make arrangements to visit the home as this will give you a chance to meet the staff and residents and talk to them about the home. It is essential that you are happy in the home you choose to live in. If you are not physically well enough to visit the home you should ask someone who knows what you want to visit on your behalf.

3. Plan your questions

You will have a lot to think about on your first visit - your first impressions of staff and residents, physical features of the building, details of the rooms, arrangements about personal possessions and day-to-day life as well as financial matters.
It is a good idea to think of all the questions you may have before you go and to take them with you when you visit.

Contracts and agreements

You should make sure that before you move into a home you are given a contract or resident's agreement. This should be signed by you or your representative and by the home owner or manager, or his or her representative.
The contract should confirm exactly what you will be paying each week and what that charge covers. For example, it might tell you that laundry for bedding and clothes is included, but that any dry cleaning would be charged extra. You need to be clear about all extra charges before you move in, and how and when the price you pay will be reviewed.You should always ask to see a copy of the home's standard contract /agreement when you visit, and discuss how and when the price you pay will be reviewed.

The contract should also tell you:

  • when you should pay your fees or other costs - for example, monthly in advance or after you have received an invoice
  • how you can pay the fees – for example, by standing order
  • what happens if you have to go into hospital
  • when and how the contract/agreement can be ended
  • what you should do if you have complaints about the home or about the way you are treated.

Arrange a trial period

If you are planning to give up your home and move into a care home, don't make a hasty decision. When you have found what you think is the right home for you, arrange to spend a trial period there for a few weeks before you make your final decision.
Even if you go into a home in an emergency, you should still think about your first four weeks as a trial period. You should not make arrangements to sell or give up the tenancy on your existing home until after the trial period and when you are sure that you have found the right care home for you.

Living in a care home

Settling in

Once you have moved into a care home, it can take a while to settle in as this will have been a major change in your life. It will take some time for you, the staff and other residents to get to know each other and for you to get used to new routines and activities.
You will also need to know what you should be able to expect from the care home and what to do if you are worried about your or someone else's safety.

Dealing with problems

If you are unsure or worried about anything, try to talk to a member of staff about your concerns. If you are a relative or friend of someone living in a care home and have concerns about the care they are receiving, try talking to the manager or whoever is in charge.
All care providers must have procedures for handling complaints.

Concerns about safety

If you are worried about someone’s safety, make your concerns known to a person in authority that you feel comfortable talking to.
If you have concerns or want to report abuse phone Hampshire Adult Services on 0300 555 1386 or the police on 101.
In an emergency, or if you or someone else is in immediate danger, phone 999.
Hampshire Safeguarding Adults Board (HSAB) has information about Safeguarding Adults in Hampshire, including advice, leaflets and policy documents.

Your rights

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) monitors, inspects and regulates health and social care services, protecting people’s health, wellbeing and human rights, and enabling them to live free from harm, abuse and neglect.

Your rights explained.

Moving to a care home in another area

If you are currently in a care home and your care is being funded by a local authority, you are still entitled to move to a home in another area (e.g. to be nearer to relatives).

The Care Act ensures that people receive proper 'continuity of care' when they move from one place to another. This "continuity" means that a person receiving care and support in one area will continue to receive care on the day of their arrival in the new area. 

If you want to move to another area, you (or someone on your behalf) must tell the council where you plan to live in future (known as the "second council") about your intentions.

After the second council has been informed, and is satisfied that the intention to move is genuine, it must then inform the council where you are currently living, or which is responsible for paying towards your care and support at the current time (known as the "first council").

Fact sheet from First Stop: Choice and council-funded care homes.

First Stop provide a telephone advice line for older people, their families and carers about housing and care options for later life: 0800 377 7070.

Paying for care in a care home

It is very important to consider the financial aspects of moving to a care home, whether you are funding your own care or a local authority is funding your place.

Last reviewed: 21/08/2018