Post No15…5 Useful Questions to Ask Care Homes

Post No15…5 Useful Questions to Ask Care Homes
Photo by Aaron Burden / Unsplash


When speaking with families about care placements, you begin to realise how many people are learning ‘on the job’. Going back to my first ever post This is New to Me, it is apparent that forward planning in the care sector is something most people seldom want to do, which is fair enough given the nature of it.

During my time working in care homes, I estimate I have helped over 400 people move in, and have had over 2000 enquiries, starting from very early stage, right up to crisis management stage. The array of questions has been vast, but some remain constant and important to almost everyone.

This post is therefore about five common questions people ask when considering a care placement, and my attempt at answering them! They may also be helpful for people who are thinking of visiting care homes, to ask the provider when they enquire.

What does a typical day in the home look like?

Although all care homes are different, there are similarities to how the day to day works. Breakfast is usually flexible in terms of time and food options, with the team then focusing on supporting where required with personal care, oral health care, washing and dressing.

The cafes are usually always open and residents often use them for morning coffee and to read the news. There will then be morning activities before lunch which is hosted in the dining rooms.

After lunch the activity program starts again, with any personal care also being completed by the care team. The activities normally run through the afternoon right up until supper time, after which the home does tend to quieten down a bit.

During the day, residents may have visitors or go out with friends and family etc, but most days will follow this sort of schedule.

Are there any restrictions on visiting the home?

Prior to the Covid pandemic there were no restrictions for friends and families visiting their loved ones in care homes. When the pandemic took this away, it had a huge impact on the wellbeing of the residents and indeed their families. The good news is that this has started to change, and although all homes will have slightly different policies, most care homes are trying to ‘live with Covid’ by encouraging uptake of the vaccination program.

As a result, visiting care homes (who are not in outbreak status) has become much more fluid again, which has been great to see and also removes the worry of families not being able to see their loved ones.

Should I visit during the first few days after admission?

My personal feeling on this question is yes, for I believe families should be together and the first few days can be tough for all involved. However, I do know that on a number of occasions families are told to allow the person time to settle in before visiting, sometimes 3-4 days or perhaps a week.

I understand why this happens, it is normally linked to a resident who has a dementia or memory loss, and indeed in some cases this may be the best strategy to help the person start to settle.

It is worth noting that during the settling process there maybe things that the home needs to know or needs to change, and so keeping open communication during this time is really important in helping the person to settle, which of course is the primary aim for all involved.

Did you know? Sometimes it can take a person between 4-8 weeks to settle into a care home setting

What activities are on offer to the residents?

This will differ slightly depending on whether the home is purpose built or a conversion. Converted homes do provide activities but they may not have an activities team, whereas purpose-built homes do.

Activities in care homes are SO important for many different reasons. There is now emerging data that suggests there are links between memory loss and isolation, or memory loss and hearing loss, so the importance of stimulation should not be under estimated.

Day to day activities will include games, gardening, exercise classes, baking, crafts and of course bingo. The home should also provide 1-1 activities for those less mobile, entertainment and trips out. Most homes tend to gather life histories from residents, in order to make activities relevant to individuals and more meaningful.

What is NOT included in the quoted cost?

Again, this may change a little depending on the care provider, but mostly exclusions are similar across different homes. The most common ones are:

· Podiatry

· Hairdressing

· Activating and using the landline in the room (if available)

· Activating Sky television in the room (if available)

· Newspapers

· Hospital escorting service

Some homes will include some of the above in their pricing, but they may charge a higher rate to compensate.


The questions above are just some of the things most people ask me, and later on I will do a follow up post with some more, but if you are starting to look into care homes these five might give you a good foundation to build your enquiry. It’s always best to ask as many questions as you can before committing to the next stage which is the assessment stage, that way you have the most accurate information to help make a difficult decision.

The Care Whisperer says 'always ask questions during the early stages of enquiry, before you get to assessment stage'

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