Part 2 – Choosing a care home

Choosing where you want to live is a significant decision and can have a big impact on quality of life.  If you or a loved one require care in later life, then choosing the right care home is just as important.

The Orders of St John Care Trust (OSJCT) is a not-for-profit charity that has people and care at the heart of everything it does. Their experienced teams are passionate about the care they provide, and they will help guide you through choosing a care home that’s right for you or a loved one.

If you are planning to pay for care for yourself or a loved one, then this guide from a series on care might provide helpful information on choosing a care home.

Start online

By doing your research and exploring options for care in later life, you will be on the front foot to act if, and when, care may be needed.

Often, the decision about which care home to live in starts with online research about care providers or care homes. Providers’ websites and social media will give you information about the care available, and a feel for their values and what life is like in their homes.  For independent information, check for inspection reports by the Care Quality Commission, which regulates, inspects and rates care homes, or take a look at online consumer reviews, for example on Google.

If you or your loved one are receiving hospital treatment, a social worker is normally assigned to you or your family and will usually provide a list of care homes to aid your search and decision.

Visit your shortlisted homes

Next, create a shortlist of homes from your research.  Contact the homes to ask about availability, request a brochure and arrange to visit them in person.  Visiting a home in person will give you a real feel for the place, and the people.

The Orders of St John Care Trust recommends taking a checklist of key questions to ask while you are looking around.  For example, you might want to focus on suitability of the location, the feel of the home, meal choices, the activities that take place and if you can keep doing the things that you love, what facilities are available, visiting arrangements, access to experts in the home such as dementia-specialist Admiral Nurses, and links with the local community. 

OSJCT has a useful Help and Advice section on their website, where you can find a detailed checklist on choosing a care home.

Choose your home

Think about your visits and refer to your checklist. If you have follow-up questions or you would like to see the home again, do get in touch.  You may want to discuss your choices with a family or friend before contacting your preferred home about moving in.

Once you’ve let your preferred home know that you or your loved one would like to move in, they will work with you to complete a care assessment so that they can understand how best to support you or your loved one.  If you are paying for care, they will ask you to complete a financial assessment. 

The home will also need to retain on file copies of registered Lasting Power of Attorney, if these legal documents are in place for you or your loved one.

Once a contract is signed, a move-in date will be agreed.

If you choose a care home with The Orders of St John Care Trust, you will experience a nurturing environment where you or your loved one will benefit from loving care, and be able to continue doing the things you love, in the company of family and friends.

For more information

The Orders of St John Care Trust offers care across Gloucestershire, Lincolnshire, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, West Sussex and Wiltshire. 

Visit or call 0330 191 3551 at the local rate to find out more about the charity and the care they offer.