Choosing a care home for the first time is often difficult decision at an emotional time. You need to feel confident that you have all the information you need to choose the right home for you.

As with signing any contract, it is important to understand your rights and responsibilities and to make sure you read the small print. You need to make sure you have all the relevant information to be able to make an informed choice.

When you, or anyone helping you, first contacts a care home, the home must give you certain key information. This should be clear and easy to understand and is necessary to help you decide, whether to shortlist that home, arrange a visit or make further enquiries.

This key information should include:

  1. Whether the care home accepts people who will be paying their own fees as well as those whose fees will be paid for by the local authority, Health and Social Care Trust or NHS (CHC). This is important, just in case your money might not last for as long as you need it to and to avoid having to move.
  2. An overview of the types of care, facilities and activities available.
  3. A brief description of the staffing arrangements.
  4. Where applicable, the regulator’s (CQC) latest inspection rating or grade for the home and where to find the most recent inspection report.
  5. Any surprising or important terms and conditions that may apply to you. For example, where the home requires you to prove that you can pay for your own care for a minimum period.
  6. How much you will pay to stay in the home. This will include an indication of how much the weekly fees will be if you are paying for your care (the exact amount will depend on an assessment of your care needs and the type of room you choose) and any other payments you may have to make upfront, such as deposits.
  7. How your fees might increase during your stay, if you are paying for your own care.
  8. What services are included in the weekly fees and whether there are any additional fees (e.g. for being accompanied by staff to hospital appointments) or optional ‘extras’, such as for hairdressing

This key information should be prominently highlighted on the care home’s website and in any information packs or other materials you are given (e.g. in a ‘key facts’ sheet) and explained to you, upfront, on your initial telephone call and at the beginning of your first visit.

If you are not sure how to go about this or would like some support or guidance, then please get in touch and we will be happy to help you.

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