Finding a care home

If you are finding it difficult to live on your own or with the help of others and have decided to move into a residential care home, you can find information and support here to help you choose a care home.

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Types of care homes

Before deciding to move into a care home you could also consider other options available such as home care services, Extra Care housing or supported living options that can help you to remain independent.

If you have already considered or tried other options and you decide a care home is most suitable for you it is important to know the difference between the types of care homes.

There are two main types of care home:

Residential care homes - provide support in a group home setting. They offer help with personal care such as getting up, washing, dressing, and going to the toilet and help with meals and support with mobility. They also provide social opportunities.

Nursing care homes -  provide care for people with health conditions that need regular support from a qualified health professional.  Nursing homes must have a qualified nurse on duty 24 hours a day.

Some care homes provide both residential and nursing care. You may choose a home like this so that you do not need to move if your needs change, although you may have to move to a different room or floor over time.  It is important to check with the homes whether they are able to meet your specific care needs for example you may have dementia or a particular physical need such as support with continence.

It is important to ask how a care home can help support you if your needs change and you require more support.  Most care homes have a brochure that will give you detailed information about what support and care they provide

Requesting a needs assessment

There are a couple of ways of arranging a place in a care home. You may wish to arrange and pay for the place yourself or you may wish the council to support you with finding a suitable care home to meet your needs.

It is a good idea to arrange for a needs assessment to help determine the level of care that you need.  The adult social care department of the council can arrange this for you and they can also arrange a financial assessment to see if you qualify for any help towards the cost of your care home place. 

As part of the assessment the council will discuss your needs and once all the options have been considered a service may be provided to meet these needs, depending on whether you meet the Care Act 2014 eligibility criteria.  If you do meet the eligibility criteria and the council arranges your place, you have the right to choose which home you go into as long as:

  • a place is available
  • it is suitable for your care and support needs (we will know what these are from the assessment)
  • we can agree a contract with the homeowner to make sure that you are properly cared for
  • it does not cost more than what we usually pay for the type of care you need, if it does, you will have to pay the difference.  More information about this can be found on the GOV.UK website Section 8.3.

Information on paying for a care home place can be found on the here.  You can contact the adult social care department via email or by telephone 01454 868007.

If you have to pay for your care home place yourself, the council can still help you to find the right care home and to make sure you receive the right level of care.  Advice and information from the council is free to everyone whatever their circumstances.

What to think about when choosing a care home

As well as making sure the care home can cater for your care needs you should also enquire about the general running of the care home and what services they offer.  Below are some suggestions of questions you could ask:

  • What type of room will you be offered?
  • What type of food is served and can dietary needs be catered for?
  • Are there communal areas in the home?
  • Is there any entertainment provided?
  • Can you keep the same GP?
  • Can you take a pet with you?
  • Are there on site or visiting services such as hairdressing and chiropody?
  • Is there a complaints process?
  • Are the staff well supported and do they receive regular training?

Care home contracts

Once you have decided on a care home, you will need to sign a contract to agree terms. Before you sign it is essential to read the contract carefully and understand what you are agreeing to.  Which? have a helpful guide explaining what a contract covers and what to look out for.

Further information about choosing a care home

All care homes have to be registered with and inspected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).  You can contact them on 03000 616161 or email

It is useful to find out when the home was last inspected and you can ask the home or the CQC to provide you with a copy of the inspection report.  The CQC can also provide a comprehensive list of care homes. is an online guide to over 21,000 care homes, nursing homes and residential homes providing care in the United Kingdom.

South Gloucestershire Council Safeguarding Adults website has a useful booklet called   ‘What makes a good care home which gives helpful information on what to look for in a care home. 

The following websites also have information and advice about finding a care home:

If you are worried that you or somebody else may be being harmed or is at risk of harm, read the article What to do if you are concerned about someone else's safety.