Questions to Ask Care Homes When Assessing for Loved Ones

 In Blog, Moving into Care

Choosing the right care home for your loved one is a big decision. We’ve created a checklist to help you navigate this process, covering everything from first impressions to the quality of care. 

We’ll look at the layout of the home, how friendly the staff are, the activities on offer, and how well the care home can adapt to your loved one’s needs. It’s about finding a place where they’ll feel comfortable, safe, and part of a community.

First Impressions

  • Does the care home present a warm and welcoming atmosphere?
  • Are the premises and gardens well-kept?
  • Do the interiors appear attractive and freshly decorated?
  • Are the staff friendly and accessible?
  • How does the care home manage odours?
  • Is the lighting adequate and comfortable in various areas of the home?

Location and Accessibility

  • Is the location of the care home suitable?
  • Can it be easily accessed via public transport?
  • Is parking available?
  • Is the area around the care home noisy?
  • What are the views like?
  • Are shops and facilities nearby?
  • Does the design accommodate everyone, including those with disabilities or illnesses?
  • Is the care home wheelchair-friendly, with lifts and accessible toilets equipped with mobility aids?
  • How does the care home manage emergency access and evacuations?
  • Are there safe outdoor spaces for residents to enjoy?

Care Services

  • What care services are offered?
  • Do staff have specialised training?
  • Are there facilities and equipment for those with disabilities or special needs?
  • How frequently do external healthcare services (e.g., GPs, dentists) visit?
  • What procedures are in place for medical care and medication management?
  • Is there provision for family members to stay overnight in case of illness?
  • How are personal care and support handled discreetly and respectfully?
  • How does the care home personalise care plans for residents with complex health conditions?
  • What is the ratio of staff to residents during the day and night?


  • Are staff members available 24/7?
  • Is there always a senior staff member on duty?
  • How do staff engage with residents?
  • Are privacy and dignity prioritised?
  • How do staff personalise care for residents?
  • Can staff accommodate language needs and cultural or religious preferences?
  • How often is staff training conducted?
  • How does the care home handle staff turnover and ensure consistency in care?
  • Are there any measures in place to ensure staff wellbeing?

Daily Life and Social Activities

  • Can residents personalise their daily routines and activities?
  • Are choices available for personal hygiene and clothing?
  • Is outdoor access available anytime?
  • Do the staff seem attentive and engaged?
  • Do residents have internet and phone access throughout the care home?
  • Are activities and community visits organised?
  • Can residents socialise in small groups?
  • How does the care home accommodate the preferences of early risers or night owls?
  • Are residents’ birthdays and anniversaries celebrated?


  • What are your impressions of the bedrooms?
  • Are en-suite or nearby bathing facilities available and accessible?
  • Can residents customise their bedrooms?
  • Are emergency call systems and adequate storage provided?
  • Can pets be accommodated?
  • Is resident privacy respected?
  • How does the care home ensure the privacy and security of residents’ personal possessions?
  • Are residents allowed to control the temperature in their own rooms?

Communal Areas

  • Is there a variety of communal spaces?
  • Are these areas easily accessible, including the garden?
  • Do communal areas offer activities, TV, Wi-Fi, and quiet zones?
  • Are they designed to encourage socialising?
  • How does the care home ensure that communal areas remain inclusive for all residents, including those who may feel overwhelmed in social settings?
  • Are there outdoor areas specifically designed for therapeutic or recreational activities?

Food and Dining

  • What meal options are available, and can residents choose where to dine?
  • Are dietary and cultural needs catered to?
  • Is there flexibility in meal times and options for eating out?
  • Can residents and visitors dine together?
  • How does the care home accommodate unexpected dietary changes or preferences?
  • Are family recipes or favourite meals of residents occasionally incorporated into the menu?


  • Does the care home offer a range of activities tailored to individual interests and needs?
  • Are residents encouraged to maintain hobbies and interests?
  • Are there opportunities for residents to participate in community events and outings?
  • How does the care home measure the success and enjoyment of activities?
  • Are there opportunities for intergenerational interactions, such as visits from local schools or community groups?

Visiting and Participation

  • Are visitors welcome anytime?
  • Are overnight stays for visitors facilitated?
  • Can visitors participate in outings and activities?
  • How does the care home facilitate virtual visits for families living far away?
  • Are there specific programs that encourage community involvement in the care home?

Fees and Contracts

  • Is a trial period offered?
  • What does the fee cover, and what are the terms for extra charges?
  • Are the payment terms and fee adjustments clearly outlined?
  • How transparent is the care home about potential additional costs that could arise?
  • What support is available for families navigating the funding and financial aspects of care?

Safety and Security

  • What safety and security measures are in place?
  • How does the care home manage risk and ensure the safety of its residents, both on-site and during outings?
  • Are families kept informed about safety protocols and resident well-being?
  • What training do staff receive regarding dementia care and managing challenging behaviours?
  • How does the care home ensure personal safety and dignity during personal care tasks?

Red Flags to Watch Out For:

Choosing a care home is a significant decision, and it’s natural to have concerns. While this checklist can guide you towards positive aspects, here are some red flags to watch out for during your visits:

  • Unpleasant Atmosphere: Trust your gut feeling. Is the environment sterile, quiet, or lacking in warmth? Are there unpleasant odours lingering?
  • Understaffing: A busy staff struggling to keep up with resident needs is a red flag.
  • High Staff Turnover: Frequent staff changes can disrupt resident care and create instability.
  • Unengaged Staff: Do staff seem rushed, dismissive, or lacking empathy towards residents?
  • Poor Communication: Does the care home avoid answering questions directly or seem hesitant to provide information?
  • Uncleanliness: Dirty common areas, unhygienic practices, or lingering odours raise hygiene concerns.
  • Unmaintained Facilities: Broken equipment, leaking faucets, or poorly maintained gardens indicate a lack of attention to detail and could pose safety hazards.
  • Limited Activities: A lack of stimulating activities or a rigid schedule can lead to boredom and decreased well-being.
  • Disrespectful Care: Observe how staff interact with residents. Do they prioritise privacy and dignity? Do they use respectful language and avoid patronising behaviour?
  • Unmet Needs: Do residents seem uncomfortable, uncared for, or have unmet hygiene needs?

If you encounter several of these red flags, it’s best to continue your search and explore other care home options.  Remember, you’re looking for a place where your loved one feels safe, respected, and feel content.

We understand that this process can be overwhelming. Let the team at Lidder Care help! Our knowledge and compassionate approach will guide you every step of the way. Contact us to if one of our locations (Lowmoor Nursing Home or Newgate Lodge) would be the perfect care home in Mansfield for your loved one. 

Alternatively you can speak to organisations to give you guidance on what to look for in a care home. We’ve outlined them here for you.

Organisation: Age UK

Organisation: The Care Quality Commission (CQC)

Organisation: Which?

Important Note: It’s best to contact your local council directly for the most up-to-date information and phone numbers for your area’s adult social care department. You can usually find them by searching online.

At Lidder Care, we’re dedicated to helping your loved one not just find a place to live, but a place where they can thrive.