Our care experts have prepared a list of answers to our most frequently asked care questions below. Can’t find the answer you're looking for? Our team are on hand to answer any queries you may have.

FAQ Topics

When should you put someone into a care home?

A care home may be necessary for someone who is struggling to live alone, even after receiving help from family, friends or carers. Somebody with a complex medical condition that requires specialist, round-the-clock attention may also benefit from a care home. Some care seekers will have a care needs assessment and be advised that a care home is the best option.

How do I find a good care home?

To find the best care home for you, the first step is to decide on your preferred location, care requirements and budget. Next, make a list of care homes near you (or in your preferred area), look at their websites and plan some visits. You can also ask friends and family for advice while looking at care home reviews and inspection ratings online. Alternatively, Lottie’s care home finder makes it easy for care seekers to find the perfect care home for them.

What questions should I ask when visiting a care home?

When visiting a care home, you should prepare plenty of questions. These can range from the staff at the home and how they assess and meet care needs, contracts and fees, what activities and facilities are on offer to residents, food, hygiene and cleanliness, accessibility, safety measures at the home and visiting times.

What is a care needs assessment?

A care needs assessment determines exactly what sort of help or support someone requires with their care. Care assessments are carried out by a trained professional, typically from the social services department within your local council. Anyone can have a care assessment, with this being a good opportunity to raise any personal concerns or requests you have for your own care or that of a loved one.

What is a care plan?

A care plan covers exactly what care and support you need. It outlines your care goals, lists your needs as determined by a care assessment, highlights which needs your local council will meet and provides information on preventing, reducing or delaying your future needs for social care. Your personal budget figures and payment details will also be included.

Can I change care homes?

If you’re unhappy, you struggling to settle in or your stay hasn't met your expectations, then changing care home is an option. However, we’d recommend that you speak to a manager or member of staff at your current home first to see whether the situation or issue(s) can be resolved. An alternative solution could be to instead change rooms or the type of care you’re receiving.

What are the alternatives to a care home?

One alternative is to modify your home to make it an easier and safer place to live. For example, by adding a stair lift and safety-proofing your bathroom. If you’re already living in a single-storey home then this is a big help as stairs can cause issues when regular movement becomes more difficult. Another idea is to ask family and friends for help and support. You could also use a befriending scheme - these are voluntary initiatives run by charities. You could also look into moving in with a carer or into a retirement village.

What care option should I choose?

The care option you choose will depend on factors like your age, health, location and personal finances. You should consider the following when picking a care option for yourself or a loved one: * What type of care will help you remain independent while making everyday tasks easier * The type of living arrangements that best suit your needs * The level of personal care you’ll need and how regularly you’ll need it. A care needs assessment can help you work out the best option for yourself or a loved one.

What is home (or live in) care?

Home care or live-in care refers to any professional support service that helps someone continue to live safely and independently within their own home. This could be any of the following: * Companionship * Help with daily activities * Assistance with other tasks and errands * Specialised nursing care * Therapy for chronic health issues, special needs or disabilities

Is home care a better option than a care home?

The main advantage of home care is that your loved one can stay in their own home, allowing them to feel comfortable in familiar surroundings whilst maintaining a consistent routine. It’s also easier for family and friends to drop by and provide daily companionship. Home care could also be a better option for those who require flexible care that varies from day to day and week to week.

What is a retirement village?

A retirement village is a complex of apartments, houses or cottages that have been built especially for retired people. Within a retirement village, residents can enjoy their privacy and independence whilst also having access to added security, social activities and a range of top-notch facilities. Retirement villages are a great option for those who are living alone and don't necessarily need care, but do desire companionship amongst like-minded people in a comfortable and often luxurious setting.

What is a care home?

Care homes provide accommodation and care services for people who are no longer able to live on their own. There are several different types of care homes, but their primary aim is always to provide personal care and support for residents. Residential care homes place a particular focus on help with day-to-day tasks like getting dressed, eating, using the toilet and administering medication. Many care homes provide their residents with social activities, day trips and outings.

What is residential care?

A residential care home provides accommodation and round-the-clock support for people who are no longer able to live alone, yet don’t require nursing care or a hospital stay. Residential care typically includes help with day-to-day tasks like washing, dressing, using the toilet and taking medication. They also offer support for residents with other care needs, such as those with physical or learning disabilities and mental health problems.

What is nursing care?

A nursing care home has qualified nurses and specially trained care assistants on hand 24/7 to provide medical care and extra support to residents with specific health conditions or disabilities. Nursing care is for people who require regular medical attention but don’t need to be in a hospital.

What is dementia care?

Dementia care is specifically tailored to people who are living with dementia and need extra support as a result. Staff in dementia care homes receive specialist training on the different types of dementia, symptoms and the appropriate way to treat them. As a result, dementia care experts can best help residents with dementia cope with things like memory loss, perception and navigating around the care home.

What is Alzheimer's?

Alzheimer's disease is a type of dementia; a progressive condition that gradually impairs mental ability over many years, most notably affecting memory. The cause of Alzheimer's is still unknown but is likely related to old age, family history or certain lifestyle and environmental factors. Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia in the UK.

What is respite care?

Respite care homes are designed for carers who need to take a break from caring. For example, when a carer is on holiday, care services will step in to provide respite care. This care can come in many forms and is usually determined through a care needs assessment by your local council. The carer will undergo a carer's assessment while the person being cared for will undergo a needs assessment.

What is convalescent care?

Convalescent care is usually reserved for people recovering from an illness, surgery or an operation. Convalescent care tends to be a short-term solution which is designed to help individuals regain their strength and get back to feeling 100% in a supportive environment. The main goal of convalescent care is for residents to return to independent living once their recovery has finished.

What is a day centre?

A day centre is a place that provides day care, support and activities for the elderly, along with people who have learning or physical disabilities. Day centres are provided by the NHS, voluntary/private organisations or through local councils. Someone's potential need for being entered into a day care centre is decided through an assessment by one of these groups.

What is palliative care?

Palliative care is designed for people who have an illness that cannot be cured. Palliative care helps individuals to manage their pain and symptoms, ensuring they feel as comfortable as possible. People can receive palliative care at any stage of an illness. As a part of a holistic approach, carers and family are often offered support as well.

What different types of care home are there?

The two main types of care homes you'll come across are:

These care homes can provide residential, nursing, emergency, respite, short-term, long-term and palliative care, as well as care services for elderly people with specific health conditions such as dementia. They can also offer care for younger people with disabilities or mental health issues.

Other forms of care and similar support facilities include:

What's the difference between a care home and a nursing home?

The main difference between a residential care home and a nursing home is that residential homes focus on assistance with day-to-day tasks like getting dressed, eating and taking medication. Meanwhile, nursing homes have qualified nurses and specially trained care assistants to provide round-the-clock nursing and medical assistance, in addition to everyday care and support. For this reason, nursing homes are often more costly than residential care homes.

What are the benefits of putting a loved one in a care home?

There are lots of benefits to residential care. By putting your loved one in a care home, you can be sure they’ll receive the level of care and medical support they need within a comfortable and sociable environment. Care homes take the pressure off you and other family members while providing the peace of mind that your loved one is happy, healthy and well looked after.

What do I do when my relative refuses help?

If your elderly relative becomes distressed at the mention of potentially entering a care home then try not to worry too much - this is a perfectly normal reaction to an often upsetting situation. First, sit down for a serious conversation with your loved one. Explain your worries and concerns about their current living situation. Point out the positives of living in a care home while stressing that they’ll still be able to do the activities they love and maintain a social life. You can't force someone into care, but you can help them come to terms with the idea.

Who regulates care homes in the UK?

There are separate care regulators for health and social care services in different parts of the UK:

  • England - Care Quality Commission (CQC)
  • Scotland - Care Inspectorate
  • Wales - Care Inspectorate Wales
  • Northern Ireland - Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA)
What is the CQC?

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is England's health and social care services regulator. The CQC registers, monitors and inspects care homes.

Based on these inspections, care homes will be given one of four ratings:

  1. Outstanding
  2. Good
  3. Requires Improvement
  4. Inadequate

CQC ratings give care seekers a trustworthy indication of a care home’s quality and safety.

Can couples stay together in a care home?

Couples can stay together in a care home if the home can meet both of their care needs. Dual-registered care homes exist to provide nursing and residential care for couples who require differing levels of support. For couples where only one individual requires care or support, some homes offer shared accommodation. This allows the care seeker's partner to keep living with them while they receive care.

What is the average length of stay in a care home?

The average length of stay in a care home depends on the individual, their age, their care requirements and any existing health conditions they might have when entering a home. Those with a medical condition that will progressively worsen may spend less than a year in a home, while individuals who only require basic residential care could live there for much longer. According to research by the London School of Economics, the average length of stay in care homes is under 20 months.

Are care homes still taking admissions during COVID-19?

Care homes may or may not take admissions during COVID-19. This depends on an individual care home's number of residents, how many of their staff are unable to work due to self-isolating or shielding and whether the care home accepts patients from local hospitals. The best thing to do is to call or email the care home and ask.

What care home safety protocols should I be looking out for during COVID-19?

Many UK care homes put extensive protocols in place to protect residents from COVID-19. These protocols include:

  • Increased cleaning and rigorous disinfecting within the home
  • Test and trace systems
  • Free PPE for care home staff
  • Limiting visits from family and friends

Some care homes even asked staff to temporarily move into the home to reduce contact with people on the outside.

Is it safe to put someone in a care home during COVID-19?

Yes, it is safe to put someone in a care home during COVID-19. Care homes have stepped up health and safety measures in the wake of the pandemic, including rigorous cleaning and infection control, providing full PPE for staff and limiting visits from family and friends to reduce face-to-face contact.

Are care homes accepting residents with coronavirus?

Whether a home will accept residents with coronavirus ultimately depends on the individual care home. For example, the home must be able to meet the care needs of the care seeker with COVID. The home also needs to be able to provide the necessary PPE for staff to be able to administer proper care, without endangering other staff and residents.

Can I visit a family member in a care home during COVID-19?

You can visit a family member in a care home during COVID-19, but there are different visiting guides for each part of the UK and for individual care homes themselves. For example, you may need to be a named visitor or provide a negative COVID-19 test before being allowed to enter a care home. You may also need to wear PPE and socially distance yourself from your loved one during your visit. The best thing to do is check the care home's visiting guidelines before planning a visit.

Will I be able to communicate with my relative in a care home during COVID-19?

If you can't visit your relative face-to-face in their care home due to COVID-19, there are plenty of other ways to communicate with them. Most care homes have the technology for their residents to use Skype, Zoom, FaceTime or a different video messaging platform. These have proved invaluable during COVID-19. You can also pick up the phone or even send your loved one a handwritten letter.

Are care homes still organising activities and home experiences during COVID-19?

In general, care homes are still organising activities during COVID-19, so long as the home hasn’t had an influx of coronavirus cases. If a home has experienced cases of coronavirus and residents have to stay in their bedrooms as a result, they can get entertainment and stimulation from TV, the internet or video calls with family and friends. For information on activities and home experiences with regards to COVID-919, check the care home's website or social media pages.

How much does a care home cost?

Care home costs vary across the UK and depend on several factors, such as the region the care home is in, what facilities are on offer and the level of care that’s required (specialist homes will typically charge higher fees than residential care homes). For example, average costs for residential care are higher in the South East of England than in the North East, while nursing care will cost more than residential care. When all care services are added up, residential care can cost upwards of £1,000 per week. Research from LaingBuisson showed that care home fees in the UK ranged from £27,000 to £39,000 a year for residential care or £35,000 to £55,000 per year for nursing care.

How much does a self-funded care residency cost?

A self-funded residency refers to care seekers who pay for care themselves. On the other hand, a state-funded residency is paid for by the local authority. Self-funded care costs vary across the UK and tend to be more expensive in certain regions. When rent, service charges, food and personal care are added up, a self-funded care residency can cost upwards of £1,000 per week.

Why are care homes so expensive and what makes up the fees?

Care home fees can be broken down into several categories, including rent and bills, care costs, nursing care costs and food. There are also often additional charges for things like haircuts, phone bills and hospital call-outs. Fees will depend on the type of care, size of the care home, the care home’s location and the range of facilities it offers. The personalised service provided by a care home is what tends to drive fees up in price, particularly if round-the-clock support is required.

What are top-up fees?

When you choose a care home, it’ll usually need to be within the local authority's budget. However, if you require a more expensive care home, a third party can volunteer to pay a top-up fee and make up the difference. Top-up fees also apply when you can no longer afford to pay for your own care so the local council steps in to help.

What are the different types of dementia?

Dementia is a term used to describe several different conditions that damage the nerve cells and their connections in the brain. This damage tends to affect memory and thought processes. Some of the most common types of dementia are Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, Lewy body dementia and mixed dementia.

A dementia care home can offer its residents the following positive aspects, services and facilities:

  • 24-hour support from care staff
  • Social activities and events with other residents
  • The reassuring knowledge that your loved one with dementia is in a safe and calming environment
What are the differences between Alzheimer's and dementia?

Dementia and Alzheimer's are two terms that often get confused. Alzheimer's disease is a specific type of dementia that causes memory loss, forgetfulness and problems with speech and visuospatial skills. Alzheimer's is the most common type of progressive dementia in adults. Over half of people diagnosed with dementia are later diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

What are the signs of dementia?

The most common signs and symptoms of dementia are memory loss, forgetfulness and problems with coordination, motor functions and visuospatial abilities, as well as difficulty communicating or finding words. You may also notice that the person seems confused or disoriented, so it’s important to ensure they have as much support as they need.

How do I get a dementia diagnosis?

If you’re concerned that you, a friend or a loved one are showing signs of dementia, then you should book a GP appointment as soon as possible. GPs can determine whether you have dementia or a condition with similar symptoms. It's important to book an appointment as soon as you notice any symptoms. This way, you or your loved one can start receiving some much-needed attention as quickly as possible.

Can you recover from dementia?

Unfortunately, there’s currently no cure for dementia. However, it can be managed and its symptoms lessened through medication and care plans. There are also steps you can take to potentially prevent dementia and ward off its effects, such as keeping an active mind and body, getting plenty of good quality sleep, taking vitamins, eating healthily and not smoking.

How do you calm someone with dementia?

When someone with dementia is agitated or distressed, you can try several methods to calm them:

  • Take them to a quiet environment
  • Use calming and reassuring phrases to let the person know you’re there
  • You could also try and evoke some fond memories by playing their favourite song or looking through old photo albums
  • Other calming activities include doing a puzzle, watching a nature video or treating them to a hand massage or manicure
What is memory care?

Memory care communities form part of some residential care homes and cater to the specific needs of seniors with memory loss.

Some of the key services provided by these facilities include:

  • 24-hour care which can focus on the individual needs of residents
  • Specialised staff who lead activities such as brain games to help seniors remain stimulated
  • Memory-enhancing therapies that vary from music and art therapy to sensory stimulation and aromatherapy
  • A secure environment with keypad entrances for family and staff, along with carefully designed layouts
Who pays for a care home?

Living in a care home and care home fees can be paid for in three ways:

  1. Through care home funding by your local authority - The local authority pays for all or part of the care. The care seeker's relatives or friends can then choose to add an additional payment known as a top-up fee
  2. Through self-funding - The care seeker or their family and friends cover the care fees
  3. Through the NHS - The NHS sometimes pay for care through NHS Continuing Healthcare or NHS Funded Nursing Care
What is a financial assessment?

A financial assessment works out whether you’re able to pay for your own care and support, or whether you require funding assistance from your local council. This assessment takes into account income, savings and other assets.

If you’re looking to move into a care home, the value of your property will be included in your total assets, whereas it wouldn’t be if you require home care.

How much savings can you have before you have to pay for care?

The savings you can have before you have to pay for care varies across the UK. Here are the upper limits (if your savings are above these amounts, you’ll have to fund your own care):

  • England & Northern Ireland - £23,250

  • Scotland - £32,750

  • Wales - £50,000

    If your savings and assets are below these amounts, you’ll be eligible for partial or full support from your local authority.

What care home financing options are there for self-funded residents?

If you're self-funding, you can use private savings, investments or property to cover care home costs. You could also rent out your home to boost your income. If you need help, we’d recommend researching state benefits you may be entitled to, such as Attendance Allowance. You could also be entitled to funding through the NHS.

Whichever route you go down, seek professional advice before making a final decision.

What is NHS Continuing Healthcare?

NHS Continuing Healthcare is a care service arranged and funded by the NHS, primarily for those who have ongoing physical or mental health needs. Whether you receive care at home or within a care home, the NHS will cover the cost of your care and support, including care home fees. To receive an NHS Continuing Healthcare package, you must first be assessed for eligibility.

What is NHS Funded Nursing Care?

NHS Funded Nursing Care (FNC) is where the NHS covers your nursing and medical care costs. FNC Funding is decided through an eligibility assessment. To qualify, you must live in a care home that’s registered to provide nursing care. You can’t qualify for FNC funding if you’re eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare.

What happens if I own a property but don’t have much money?

When you apply for care, you’ll undergo a financial assessment to work out how you’ll pay for it. You won’t have to sell your home if you’re receiving care and support at home, or if you’re applying for short-term care.

If you’re applying for permanent care, you won’t have to sell your house if it’s still occupied by a ‘qualifying dependant’ (such as your spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner or another close relative).

If you’re classed as able to cover the cost of your care but would rather not sell your home, there are some alternative options:

What is Equity Release?

Equity Release is a policy for over 55s that provides a way to access the value tied up in a property and turn it into a cash lump sum, without having to actually sell the house. If you're planning to use an Equity Release policy, be sure to do your research first, as they can be costly to get wrong.

Who pays for a care home when my money runs out?

If your money runs out and you can’t afford to continue paying for care, you can get a care needs assessment to see whether you’re eligible for funding from your local authority or the NHS. Alternatively, a relative or friend can offer to sign a contract and pay a top-up fee to help cover these costs. If you don't have enough money to pay for your current care home, you may have to move to a less expensive one.

Are next of kin responsible for care home fees?

Next of kin are only responsible for care home fees if they sign a contract with the care provider. Only when you’ve signed this contract are you legally responsible for paying the fees and any fee increases that may occur. Legally, relatives are not obliged to pay for a family member's fees, even if they’re a spouse, child or parent.

Can I put a house in trust to avoid care home fees?

You shouldn’t try and deliberately try and avoid care fees by placing your property in trust. Doing this is known as deprivation of assets. If your local council believe you’ve done this intentionally, they may still count your property as a part of your assets, meaning you’ll still be required to self-fund your own care.

What is Intermediate Care in a care home or the hospital?

Intermediate Care is a temporary care service provided by the NHS. You can receive Intermediate Care for up to six weeks - either at home, in a care home or in the hospital. If you need further support after the six weeks are up, you’ll be given a care plan, but you may have to cover the costs yourself.

What is Carer's Allowance?

Carer's Allowance is a benefit for carers. If you regularly provide care and support for a partner, relative or friend with an illness, health condition or disability, you may qualify for Carer's Allowance. You can check your eligibility for Carer's Allowance and make a claim through GOV.UK.

How is care administered in a nursing home?

Nursing care is provided 24 hours a day by registered nurses who are supported by care assistants. All residents will require some element of nursing care, such as the administration of intravenous medication or looking after wounds. If the care home is registered to provide nursing care then medicines should be administered by a medical practitioner or registered nurse.

Can you be forced into a care home?

Technically, no you can’t. Which care home is picked is usually a choice made by the care seeker themselves.

However, if a needs assessment determines any of the following then you may not have a choice about entering some form of care:

  • You require 24-hour care or supervision
  • You’ve been discharged from the hospital on the condition that you go into a care home
  • You no longer have the mental capacity to make sound decisions
Can you be forced out of a care home?

If your care needs change and can no longer be fulfilled at your current care home then you may need to leave. You may also need to leave if you’re unable to cover your care fees, if the home closes down, if you’re in breach of your contract or if you’re putting the staff and other residents at risk.

How do I complain about a care home?

To complain about a care home, you should first speak to the care home manager or owner and see whether they can resolve the issue. If you wish to make a formal complaint, this should be done in the form of a handwritten letter detailing your concerns. Different countries have different complaint procedures, so if you're escalating a complaint, make sure you speak to the relevant regulatory authority before taking any action.

Should a care home resident make a will?

All care home residents should make a will. If you don’t have a will and you lose the capacity to communicate or make decisions about your care, then it’ll be difficult for doctors, care home staff and family members to make decisions on your behalf. If you have specific wishes or requests, then these can be clearly communicated in a will.

What is power of attorney?

Power of attorney is a legal document that enables one or more people to act on someone else's behalf when that person is no longer able to make decisions or adequately communicate them. Setting up a power of attorney can help you to convey your choices and preferences regarding your health and wellbeing, along with your finances and property.

What facilities does a care home offer?

Care home facilities depend on the individual care home. You can figure out what facilities a care home offers by looking around on a visit, asking plenty of questions and checking out the home’s website.

Here are some of the amazing facilities that care homes will often include:

  • Communal lounge areas
  • Dining areas
  • Dedicated activity rooms
  • Cinema rooms
  • Hair and beauty salons
  • Gardens
  • Bars, cafes and pubs
  • On-site shops
  • Libraries
  • Health and fitness equipment
What activities and events does a care home offer?

Different care homes offer different experiences, events and activity programmes. When looking at a care home, you can enquire about the entertainment they offer to residents.

Here are some of the best experiences and events that care homes can offer, often hosted by an activities co-ordinator:

  • Arts and crafts
  • Music classes
  • Cooking and baking classes
  • Quizzes
  • Board games and card games
  • Gardening
  • Gentle fitness sessions
  • Spa days
  • Day trips out
What is food like in a care home?

Care homes take every resident’s personal dietary requirements and preferences into account to create meal plans tailored to their needs and tastes. Meals should be nutritiously balanced (and delicious) while being made using fresh ingredients. There should also be a choice of menus available that cater to all, including any kosher, halal, gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan or diabetic requirements. When checking out a care home, you can ask to see some sample menus.

Can I get vegetarian and vegan food in a care home?

UK care homes do cater for vegetarian and vegan dietary requirements. However, the exact menu on offer will depend on the care home. With this in mind, if you or your relative are vegetarian or vegan then it's best to check the care home's food options in advance. If a care home exclusively offers the same one or two vegetarian options every evening then these will become bland and frustrating pretty quickly.

Can I take my own furniture into a care home?

Most care homes will let you bring personal items to make your room feel more homely, such as photos, music, books and ornaments carrying sentimental value. Some will also allow you to bring furniture with you, including a TV, soft furnishings and even your bed. When researching care homes, speak to the care home manager about your options and what you can/can’t bring with you.

Are pets allowed into a care home?

Parting with a beloved pet can be distressing for care home seekers, which is why many care homes are pet-friendly and will warmly welcome pets. When researching and choosing a care home, be sure to ask the care home manager whether residents are allowed to bring their pets with them when moving in. Some care homes won’t allow pets to permanently live on the premises, but will allow family and friends to bring pets in when visiting their loved ones within the home.