How to find the perfect care home

Chris Moon Willems

 How to Find the perfect care home for Mum and Dad

Kindly contributed by Chris Moon-Willems of Relative Matters


How To Find The Perfect Care Home For Mum or Dad

I am often contacted by people feeling overwhelmed by information about care homes when having to find a care home for their elderly Mum or Dad. Only yesterday I received a message from Gwen, which is pretty typical.

“I feel reasonably well informed, but there are so many different websites/ places to look. How people manage if they are on their own, or who have very little knowledge I don’t know- its such a stressful time for my sister and I. Can you help?”

It is important to know what you are looking for and it takes time to find the right care home at what is often a very stressful time. This is because the need is usually urgent and the consequence of an accident, illness of the older person or their carer, and feeling under pressure to discharge your relative from hospital.

I have therefore decided to share what we do at Relative Matters, to offer a road map for people who choose to do it on their own.


1. Identify the type of home your parent needs. Do they need a care home for older people, a care home with nursing, or specialist care home for people living with dementia? Check out my blog post choosing A Care Home


2. Geographical area – Where do they want to live? For example should it be near you or another family member?


3. Personal criteria Area- This is one of the most important steps. You need to identify what is important to your parent about the care environment. Every list of personal criteria will be different, as it needs to be tailored to the individual. To give you an idea, here is the list I drew up when we needed to find a care home for my own mother.


  • Staff needed to be skilled in managing Mum’s severe anxiety and depression as well as her dementia


  • The location needed to be within 15 minutes travel time from their bungalow as my father was ill and couldn’t sit in a car for longer


  • Whilst she needed a specialist care home for people living with dementia, we needed one where people were not so severe it would frighten her.


  • En suite facilities were essential as Mum was a very private person.


  • Access had to be level in all areas as Mum’s mobility was very poor.


  • A clean bright and modern environment was important, as Mum and Dad’s taste in decor and furniture had always been unusually modern for their age.


  • A nice garden was important as Mum has she has always been interested in plants.


  • It needed to be pet friendly, as Mum loves animals




4. Check the home meets national care standards by using the Care Quality Commissions (CQC) site for your initial short list. Enter the type of care home you are looking for and the area/postcode.


5. Phone the homes on your initial short list to find out if they meet key elements of your criteria and have a vacancy


6. Arrange unannounced visits (so you see how it really is) to the homes that meet key elements of your criteria and have a vacancy.


You should now have a tailored short-list of potential homes. Take your parent around no more than two homes at a time (older people find too much choice overwhelming). Make appointments for these as you will need to meet and speak to the Manager.


7. Check out my 10 questions to ask when choosing a care home


8. When your parent has chosen the home they like best arrange for them to have a month’s trial to keep their options open.


Use an independent care consultancy like Relative Matters to do steps 1-8  if you live a long way away or have other demands on your time.




Award-winning blogger and former care columnist for Devon Life magazine. I am passionate about helping elderly people and people with dementia live purposeful and independent lives.
Designer of the Dementia Assistance Card and Points Of Light award recipient, Caron hopes to help carers when resources are limited and demand is ever-increasing. I am here to support you.

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