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The process of considering a care home can be a stressful and emotional journey, both for the person going into care and their family. We’re here to make the journey a little easier for you by sharing everything you need to know when you’re considering a care home for a loved one. From how (and where) to search for a care home, to finding out about fees, we’ve rounded up all the need-to-know information to help you make the best choice for you and your family.

There can be so much to consider and the change of environment can be daunting but, here at Randolph Hill, our homes make the transition as smooth as possible – it’s what comes with over 30 years of experience.

Often it’s a relief to be looked after by professional nursing and care staff: those who have felt lonely and unable to cope with a house or garden are pleasantly surprised by the feeling of companionship. Those who may need medical attention can actually feel more independent than when they were living in their own home.

Assessing Your Needs

If you’re thinking you might need to move into a care home, you may wish to contact your local council’s social services department and ask for a free care needs assessment. A social care professional would thereafter visit you to ask how you’re managing everyday tasks and how this affects your wellbeing. They will consider:

  • your health and abilities, what you can and can’t do, what you struggle to do, and what you want for your living arrangements
  • what help you’re currently getting (if any)
  • the views of anyone you’d like involved, such as a carer, family, close friend, doctor or district nurse
  • your emotional and social needs, such as a desire to stay living near family
  • your religious, cultural and communication needs, such as a wish to attend a faith group

The assessor looks at options with you to see whether home care and adaptations could help you continue living at home, before considering whether a residential care home or nursing home is appropriate. Your wishes should be considered as much as possible.

If you have health needs, social care staff are likely to involve one or more medical members of staff so the assessment takes account of all your needs when considering your eligibility for care and support and agreeing your care plan. A care plan outlines your needs and what could help meet those needs.

Randolph Hill is a nursing home and there can be a difference in price between care homes and nursing homes. Residential care homes provide accommodation and personal care for people who need extra support in their daily lives but there may not be nursing services offered. The higher cost of residential nursing home care reflects the fact that more specialised care is provided by registered nurses, and it is tailored to those with specific medical requirements

Find Out About Fees & Funding

Of course, before you make any final decisions, you’ll want to make sure you’re clear on how much the care home costs, and whether your relative is entitled to any funding support.

Our care homes fees are payable by the individual, but you may be eligible for help depending on your circumstances. If you are privately funded (sometimes called self-funded), you have control to secure your first choice of care depending on your preferences. Not all available rooms in care homes are available to council funded residents so, in this instance, you may have less choice and availability.

To be council funded means that the council will pay the cost of the care home above what you can afford to pay. Any application will depend on other circumstances and should be discussed with your social worker.

This can be quite a complicated issue to understand when you first start looking into care homes. We’ve put together a handy guide with everything you need to know about the costs and funding for care homes. 

Points to Consider When Choosing a Nursing Home

Once you’ve made the decision that moving into a nursing home is the best course of action for your loved one, the next step is to find the home that best suits their needs. It’s worth taking the time to thoroughly think about what they want and need to help you narrow down your care home selection.

Here are some questions you could work through together to get you started:

  • Is it important that the care home is in their local area, or in your area if you live in different places?
  • What sort of care is needed? Will a care home with personal care be enough, or is nursing care also needed? Are there any additional support requirements such as dementia care?
  • How much can you afford to spend?
  • Would they prefer a home in the middle of a town or city, or a more rural location?
  • Are social activities and outings important?

Once you have a better idea of what you’re looking for in a care home, you can review reports from Care Inspectorate: a scrutiny body that looks at the quality of care in Scotland.

It’s a good idea to talk to care providers or care home managers on the phone to get a feel for the home. Discuss your loved one’s specific needs and how the home can meet these. We recommend asking about fees upfront, as well as availability. If a particular home isn’t within your price range, or they don’t have any available spaces, then you can eliminate it at this stage.

Visiting Care Homes

It is important to spend time visiting a home before you reach a decision and, if possible, it’s best to view along with the person who will be living in the home so they can decide whether they’d be happy there. If that’s not possible, consider another trusted friend or family member so you have a second opinion.

Before you view, make sure you’ve prepared a list of questions you want to ask. Don’t worry about asking too many questions: there’s no such thing, and the more information you have, the more equipped you’ll be to make the best choice.

Some questions you might want to ask are listed below:


What kind of home is it?​​

  • Does it offer the right level of care?
  • Will it provide any future care needs?
  • Will relatives/the resident be involved in decision making?
  • How is GP care arranged?
  • Can residents decide when to get up, and go to bed?
  • Are other services such as physiotherapy and chiropody available?
  • Is there a visiting dentist or optician?
  • What type of activities are there


Where is the location?

  • Is it in the country or city – will the surroundings be similar to current location?
  • How close or convenient is it for family and friends to visit?
  • Is easy or free parking available?
  • Is there a garden or outside space where residents can get some fresh air?


What are your first impressions?

  • Is the building well-maintained? How about the grounds?
  • Did you receive a warm welcome?
  • Is the atmosphere homely and friendly?
  • Is the home clean and attractively furnished?
  • Does the home smell pleasant?
  • Generally, do the residents seem content and cared for?
  • How many staff are on duty? Are they interacting with the residents?


What are the communal areas like?

  • Is there more than one room where residents can sit or see visitors?
  • Is there a quiet lounge without a television?
  • Can wheelchairs and walking frames access all areas?
  • Are there toilets within easy reach of communal spaces?
  • Are there sufficient handrails in place?
  • Is it easy to find your way around the home? Are there clearly visible signs in place?
  • Are there books and newspapers available for residents?


What are the bedrooms like?

  • Did you see an empty room or was the room in use?
  • Can residents bring furniture and personal possessions?
  • What was the standard of décor?
  • Do all rooms have ensuite facilities?
  • Do all rooms have televisions, telephone points and Wi-Fi?
  • Can residents lock their own door?
  • Do rooms have a call system to alert staff?
  • What is the policy on pets?
  • Are residents free to see visitors at any time?


What about menus and meal arrangements?

  • Can residents eat when they want to?
  • Can you choose to eat in your own room rather than a dining room?
  • If eating in the dining room, can you choose who you sit with?
  • Is there a menu choice for each meal – how often are menus rotated?
  • Are residents consulted by the chef on their likes and dislikes?
  • Are there snacks available, if so, when?
  • Can special diets be catered for?
  • Are there facilities for residents to make a drink?


Other considerations?

  • Are there organised activities for residents? Do these cost extra?
  • Is there a residents’ committee?
  • Are residents encouraged to give feedback about their experiences living there?
  • What procedures are followed in case of accidents or emergencies?
  • How involved can you, as the family, be in your loved one’s care?
  • What is the ratio of staff to residents?
  • What training do staff get?

Dementia Care

When visiting care homes with dementia support in mind, be sure to ask about the home’s approach to care. Do they focus on person-centred care? This means that residents are treated as individuals with different interests, needs and abilities, rather than just focusing on their condition and treating all dementia patients the same.

It’s also important to find out about the staff who’ll be working with your loved one. Dementia care requires specialist training, so don’t be afraid to ask about what’s involved in this and how often staff participate in new training or refresher courses. In particular, staff should be able to communicate with people with dementia, and have an understanding of the communication difficulties they may face.

Take note of the layout of the home. Is the space set up so as not to be confusing or distressing to residents with dementia? Are residents encouraged to stimulate their long-term memories through activities and discussions? Are they encouraged to take exercise?

You can find out more about dementia care at Randolph Hill here

Arrange a Respite Stay

A respite stay can be a good opportunity for your loved one to see if the care home you’ve chosen together is the right one for them. It will give them a chance to experience life in a care home, and see what the daily routine is like, as well as offering the chance to double check that everything is as good as it seemed on previous visits and in the brochure.

Some of our care homes have respite stay facilities, so just get in touch if you’d like to organise a stay in one of these locations.

Find Out More

Still have questions about how to start looking for a care home? We’ll be happy to help. Visit our FAQ page or feel free to get in touch with any of our Randolph Hill homes, or send us a general enquiry about anything from fees and funding to social activities, and we’ll get back to you as soon as you can.