Frequently asked questions about finding care

IFrequently Asked Questions About Carentroduction

We are often asked questions about finding care. Here we have provided answers to the most frequent questions about finding Care Homes, Home Care Agencies and Live-In care.
This is not a comprehensive list, so should you have a question please don’t hesitate to contact us if your question is not on this list.

Care HomeQuestions about finding a care home


How much does it cost for my elderly relative to stay in a care home?

Each care home will have its own charging policy and frequently will also charge different weekly rates for different rooms, depending on the size of the room and the type of care service required, so it is important to speak to each care home you are considering and be very clear on the types of service your elderly relative needs and what is being included by the home. As a very rough guide, weekly care fees can be anything from about £500 to £2000.

Who should I talk to for advice about financing my elderly relative’s care home fees?

You should seek independent financial advice as soon as you or an elderly relative are considering paying for care. There are a number of Independent Financial Advisors who specialise in financial planning for care fees and we would recommend finding one who is a member of the Society of Later Life Advisers (SOLLA).

What is included in the fees?

You will need to speak with the care home to get a clear definition of what is included in the fees, but these should include the costs of the room rental, cleaning services for the room, general repairs and maintenance of the room, room furniture, use of common areas, all food and drink, care services and a range of activities provided by the home. Some homes will include personal care services such as hairdressing and chiropody. There may be additional charges for days out, daily papers, and the like.

Will my elderly relative still need to have money?

Yes, your elderly relative should still have some money to allow them to pay for items such as daily papers, hair dressers, podiatrists. The care home should provide a way of managing how much is spent and how it can be accessed. They will agree with family or professional involved how this may be topped up on a regular basis.

What happens when my elderly relative no longer has the money available to pay for their care home fees?

It is important to monitor the finances and contact the local authority as your relative gets near the Local Authority financial threshold, which is currently £23,250.  It is also advisable to inform the care home as funds start to deplete, as most will support with the process of applying to the local authority.
Each home will have its own policy on what to do when this happens. Most homes will do everything possible to support the person to remain in their home. To make things financially easier, they may offer an alternative room within the home that is less expensive.
If your relative receives support from the local authority, there may be a shortfall and family may be approached to help pay the fees through a process known as a 3rd Party Top Up.

What is a 3rd party top up?

If you have chosen a care home that is more expensive than what the local authority will pay, a family, friend or sometimes a charity will need to pay the difference, this is called a 3rd party top up.
You can’t usually pay you own top up fees. Any person undertaking paying the top up will be asked to sign a contract with the local authority who will then pay the care home directly.

Visiting my elderly relative in a care home.

Can I visit my elderly relative at any time?

Most care homes are happy for you to visit at any time, but it is important to check with each home what their visiting policy is. Some homes may discourage visitors at meal times if they feel it will impact on their residents with Dementia, as they become easily distracted. This should be explained when viewing the home.

Can family members take our elderly relatives out on trips?

Each care home will have its own policy, but most will be happy to allow you to take your elderly relative out for a trip if they feel it is safe to do so. They will ask you to inform a member of staff before you leave and what time you are expected to return.  In some cases, it is advisable to let the home know in advance, this way they can assist your relative to be ready when you arrive.

Questions about the Care Home

Can my elderly relative take their own furniture to the care home?

Modern care homes provide rooms that are fully furnished, and this furniture is designed for the elderly, so it is more difficult to take large items of furniture. However, they are keen for your elderly relative to feel at home so will encourage them to bring smaller pieces of furniture if they can be accommodated in the room safely as well as pictures, books and other mementos that will help make it feel like home. Items such as armchairs will need to meet their fire regulations and you will be advised by the home manager what to look for.

Do care homes have a good choice of food and cater for special dietary needs?

When viewing the home, ask to see a sample menu and ask how frequently it is revised. They should provide a good range of meals and be able to cater for any special dietary needs your relative may have. Some homes source local produce or even grow their own, with the help of residents.
They should also be able to provide ‘an alternative’ for people who don’t see anything they like.

Can my elderly relative keep their own GP if they move into a care home?

Provided the GP surgery is within the catchment area of the home, this should not be an issue. You will need to talk to your GP and the home to confirm.

What will happen to my elderly relative’s pet?

There are many animal friendly care homes available, so if your elderly relative has a pet then you should talk to the home you are considering. There are times that homes will ‘adopt’ a small pet, so long as there are no risks to other residents.
Many homes have small animals visit on a regular basis, this is known as Pet Therapy, although not the same as the person’s own pet, it is a popular activity within care homes.

My elderly relative tends to wander, how will I know if they will be safe?

Different types of care home are designed and run to help people with different levels of need, so it is important to discuss this with the home and be satisfied that the home you are considering is able to cope with the level of wandering that your elderly relative does.

My elderly relative smokes / likes an occasional drink, will they still be able to do this?

Different homes have different policies on smoking and drinking, so check this out with the home as part of your initial conversation.

Other Questions

How are care homes regulated?

Care homes are regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) who have a duty to regularly inspect care homes. Details of all inspection reports are available on the CQC website.

Who do I turn to if I am not happy with the quality of care being delivered to my elderly relative?

If you are not happy with the quality of care being provided to your elderly relative, then you should discuss this with the management team of the care home in the first instance. If you are not happy with the response you have received, then you should report this to both the local Adult Social Services department who may regard this as a safeguarding issue and the Care Quality Commission who may want to take action under their regulatory powers.

Can I move my elderly relative to another care home in the future, if I want to?

There is nothing to stop you moving your elderly relative to another home, however you should consider the impact this move may have on their health and wellbeing, as it may be hard for them to understand why they are being moved, especially if they appear to be happy and safe in their environment.