There are a few things you or your relative may want to consider before making a final decision as to which care home he or she will move to.

After you have done your research and chosen a care home you think will be suitable, there are a few things you can do before you make your final decision to ensure that the choice you have made is the right one.

On this page you will find three tips to help:

1. Arrange a trial stay at the care home
2. Check the small print
3. Make a surprise visit

1. Arrange a trial stay at the care home

If your relative really wants to see what a care home is like, it might be possible to arrange a ‘trial stay’. Everyone is different, so only do this if you think your relative would understand the reasons for the visit and benefit from it. If you are interested in this, ask for details when you visit. 

'My aim was to make her as content and happy as I possibly could.' Peter's story

You might also be able to arrange a short-term stay for respite care to give you or another carer a break. This could be a good opportunity for your relative to see what it’s like to be in a care home, even if it is only for a week or two.

2. Check the small print

Once you have decided on a care home, a contract will have to be signed. This is always between the care home and the funder. So if your relative’s place at the home is being funded by the local authority, that is who will sign the contract.

If it is your relative who is paying or you or someone else is paying a third-party top-up, your relative will be asked to sign a contract covering such things as:

  • the care to be provided
  • the charges 
  • and the terms and conditions of occupancy. 

Ask to see a copy of this contract before you make your final decision. Read it very carefully and ask a solicitor to explain any clauses that you don’t understand. If your relative is responsible for paying part or all of their fees, you may be asked to act as a guarantor. This will also happen if you have power of attorney for your relative; the care home will discuss the arrangements with you for paying the fees.

3. Make a surprise visit

Before you and your relative decide on a particular home, it can be useful to make a second unannounced visit. You can see how the staff interact with the residents, how many people are around, and what activities are going on. Of course, this won’t always be practical or possible, but it’s worth doing if you can.

More information

Page last reviewed: 31 March 2015
Next review due: 30 September 2016