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 struggling to live alone, despite help from family, friends or carers, someone who has a complex medical condition that requires specialist attention round the clock, or someone who had a care needs assessment that advised a care home was the best option.

How do I find a good care home?

To find the best care home for you, first decide on your preferred location, care requirements and budget. Then, make a list of your local care homes, look at their websites and plan some visits. You can also ask experienced friends and family for advice and look at care home reviews and inspection ratings online. Need help looking for a care home? Get in touch with one of Lottie's care experts to find your dream care home today.

What questions should I ask a care home when visiting?

You should definitely prepare lots of questions about the staff at the home and how they assess and meet care needs, as well as requesting info on contracts and fees. You could also ask about activities, food, hygiene and cleanliness, accessibility and 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 needs with their care. Care assessments are carried out by a trained professional, typically from the social services department of the local council. Anyone can have a care assessment and they are a good opportunity to raise any personal concerns or requests you have for your care.

What is a care plan?

A care plan covers exactly what care and support you need. It outlines your care goals, lists your assessed needs, 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 are unhappy, you haven't settled in, or your stay hasn't met your expectations, changing care home is an option. However, speak to a manager or staff at your current home first to see whether you can resolve the situation. An alternative solution could be to change rooms or care services instead. Need help looking for a care home? Get in touch with one of Lottie's care experts to find your dream care home today.

What are the alternatives to a care home?

One alternative is to modify your home to make it easier to live there, for example, by adding a stair lift. Other alternatives include asking family and friends for help and support, or using befriending schemes, which are volunteering initiative run by charities. You could also research 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 what will help you to stay independent and make everyday tasks easier, the type of living arrangements that would best suit your needs and the level of support you'll need with personal care. A needs assessment can help you work out the best option for you.

What is home (or live in) care?

Home care, or live in care, includes any professional support service that helps someone continue to live safely and independently in their own home. This could be anything from companionship and help with daily activities, tasks and errands to nursing care or 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 house, in comfortable and familiar surroundings, with the same routines. It is also easier for family and friends to drop by to provide daily companionship. Home care could be a better option for those who require flexible care that varies depending on the day or week.

What is a retirement village?

A retirement village is a community of flats or houses made specially for retired people. Residents can enjoy their privacy and independence whilst also having access to the added security and social activities of a care home. Retirement villages are good options for people living alone who don't necessarily need care, but want companionship.

What is a care home?

Care homes are also known as residential homes and provide accommodation and care services for people who are no longer able to live on their own. There are different types of care home, but their primary aim is to provide personal care, including help with dressing, eating, toileting and medication, as well as social activities like day trips and outings.

What is residential care?

A residential care home provides accommodation and round the clock care and support for people who are no longer able to live alone, but do not need nursing care. Residential care typically includes help with washing, dressing, toileting and medication, as well as support for other care needs, including physical or learning disabilities and mental health problems.

What is nursing care?

Nursing care is for people who need regular medical attention, but do not need to be in hospital. A nursing home has qualified nurses and specially trained care assistants on hand at all times to provide medical care and extra support for residents with specific health conditions or disabilities.

What is dementia care?

Dementia care is specifically tailored for people living with dementia who may require extra support. Dementia care staff receive special training on the different types and symptoms of dementia in order to help residents with dementia cope with things like memory loss, perception and navigating around the 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 the memory. The cause of Alzheimer's is still unknown, but it could be related to old age, a family history, or certain lifestyle factors. Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia in the UK.

What is respite care?

Respite care is 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 decided on by a carer's assessment of the carer, or a needs assessment of the person being cared for.

What is convalescent care?

Convalescent care is usually reserved for people recovering from an illness, surgery, or an operation. Convalescent care is normally short-term, designed to help individuals regain their strength and get back to fighting fit in a supportive environment, with the end goal being that they return to living independently again post-recovery.

What is a day centre?

A day centre is a place that provides day care, support and activities for elderly people, or those with learning or physical disabilities. Day centres are provided by the NHS, voluntary or private organisations or local councils, who decide someone's potential need for day care through an assessment.

What is palliative care?

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

What different types of care home are there?

The two main types of care home you'll come across are residential care homes and nursing homes. 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, or care for younger people with a disability or mental health issues. Other types of care home include sheltered housing, retirement villages, adult day care centres, mental health hospitals and hospices.

What is the difference between a care home and a nursing home?

The main difference between a residential care home and a nursing home is that 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 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 ensure they receive the level of care and medical support they need, in a comfortable and sociable environment. Care homes take the pressure off you and other family members and give you 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 angry, upset or distressed at the mention of a care home, you're not alone. First, sit down for a serious conversation with them to explain your worries and concerns about their current living situation. Point out the positives of living in a care home and stress that they will still be able to do the activities they love. You can't force someone to go 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 the UK. England has the Care Quality Commission, or the CQC, Scotland and Wales both have their own Care Inspectorate and in Northern Ireland, care services are regulated by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority, or RQIA.

What is the CQC?

The Care Quality Commission, or CQC, is England's health and social care services regulator. The CQC registers, monitors and inspects care homes and gives them one of four ratings; Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement, or 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 is able to meet both their care needs. Dual registered care homes exist to provide both nursing and residential care for couples who require different levels of care. For couples where only one individual needs care or support, some homes offer shared accomodation, so the care seeker's partner can continue to live 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, care requirements and any existing health conditions they might have when they arrive at the home. Those with a medical condition that will progressively worsen may spend less than a year in a home, while individuals who require only basic residential care could live there for much longer.

Are care homes still taking admissions during COVID-19?

Care homes may or may not take admissions during COVID-19. This depends on the 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 have put extensive protocols in place to protect residents from COVID-19, including increased cleaning and rigorous disinfecting in the home, test and trace systems, free PPE for care home staff and limiting visits from family and friends. Some care homes even asked staff to 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 contract.  Need help looking for a COVID-19 secure care home? Get in touch with one of Lottie's care experts to find your dream care home today.

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 PPE required by staff to provide proper care, while still protecting 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 country in the UK and for individual care homes themselves. For example, you may need to be a named visitor, test negative for COVID-19 before entering and wear PPE during your visit, as well as socially distance from your loved one. 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 during COVID-19, there are plenty of other ways you can communicate with them. Most care homes have the technology to enable Skype, Zoom, FaceTime and other video messaging platforms, which 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 has not had cases of coronavirus. If a home has had cases of coronavirus and residents have to stay in their bedrooms, they can get entertainment and stimulation from TV, the internet, or video calls with family and friends. For information on activities and home experiences, 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 the county or region the care home is in. For example, average costs for residential care are higher in the South East of England than in the North East. When all care services are added up, residential care can cost upwards of one thousand pounds per week. Costs also depend on the type of care required and specialist care homes will typically charge higher fees than residential care homes.

How much does a self-funded care residency cost?

A self-funded residency refers to care seekers who pay for their care themselves, rather than a state-funded residency, which is paid for by the local authority. Self-funded care costs vary across the UK and tend to be more expensive in certain countries and regions. When rent, service charges, food and personal care are added up, self-funded care residencies can cost upwards of one thousand pounds 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 or hospital call-outs. Fees also depend on the size of the care home, its location and the range of facilities it offers.

What are top-up fees?

When you choose a care home, it will 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 to make up the difference. Top-up fees also apply when you can no longer afford to pay for your own care and the local council steps in to help.

What are the different types of dementia?

Dementia is a term used to describe a number of different conditions that damage the nerve cells and their connections in the brain; typically affecting 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.

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, causing memory loss, forgetfulness and problems with speech and visuospatial skills. Alzheimer's is the most common cause of progressive dementia in adults and over half of people diagnosed with dementia are diagnosed as having Alzheimer's.

What are the signs of dementia?

The 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 the person seems confused or disoriented and they are no longer able to manage complex tasks like they used to.

How do I get a dementia diagnosis?

If you are concerned that you or your relative are showing signs of dementia, 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 symptoms in order to get appropriate treatment and support.

Can you recover from dementia?

There is currently no cure for dementia, but there are ways you can manage the disease and lessen its symptoms, through medication and care plans. There are also steps you can take that might help prevent dementia, such as keeping your mind and body active, getting enough 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. First, take them to a quiet environment, free from potential stressors. Use calm, reassuring phrases to let the person know you are there. You could also sing a favourite song, do a puzzle, watch a nature video, look at old photo albums or treat them to a hand massage or manicure.

Who pays for a care home?

Care homes can be paid for in three ways. The first is local authority funding, where 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. The second way is self-funding; where the care seeker themselves, their family or friend cover care fees. Finally, in certain circumstances the NHS will pay for care homes costs.

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 vary across the UK, but a rough estimate is £23,250 in England and Northern Ireland, £28,750 in Scotland and £50,000 in Wales. If you don't have the required amount, you can ask for financial support from your local authority who will partly or fully cover the costs.

Do I have to sell my home to pay for care?

When you apply for care, you do a means test to work out how you will pay for it. You will not have to sell your home if you are receiving care and support at home, or if you are applying for short-term care. If you are applying for permanent care, you will not have to sell your house if it is still occupied by a partner, or in certain circumstances, a relative.

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 have signed the contract are you legally responsible for paying the fees and any fee increases over the years. Legally, relatives are not obliged to pay for a family member's fees, even if they are a spouse, child or parent.

What is Intermediate Care? How long can I stay in a care home for free?

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 hospital. If you need further support after the six weeks is up, you will be given a care plan, but you may have to cover the costs yourself.

Alternatives to care

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.

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 in a care home, the NHS will cover the cost of your care and support, including care home fees. To receive a NHS Continuing Healthcare package, you must first be assessed for eligibility.

What is FNC Funding and who's eligible?

FNC Funding stands for NHS-funded nursing care, where the NHS covers your nursing and medical care costs. FNC Funding is decided through an eligibility assessment and to qualify, you must live in a care home registered to provide nursing care and you cannot be eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare.

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 get more information about being a carer online.

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, or let out your home to boost your income. If you need help, research which state benefits or NHS funding you may be entitled to and look into deferred payment agreements and insurance policies. Whichever route you go down, seek professional advice before deciding. 

What is Equity Release?

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

Alternatives to care 4

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.

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

If your money runs out, you can do a care needs assessment to see whether you are 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 you cover costs. If you don't have enough money for your current care home, you may have to move to a less expensive one.

Can you be forced into a care home?

No. A care home is usually a choice made by the care seeker. However, if a needs assessment determines that you require 24-hour care or supervision, you have been discharged from hospital on the condition that you go into a care home, or you do not have the mental capacity to make decisions, you may not have a choice.

Can you be forced out of a care home?

You may have to leave your care home if your care needs change and can no longer be fulfilled, you are unable to cover your care fees, or the care home shuts down. You may also need to leave your care home if you are putting staff and other residents at risk, or you breach your contract.

What does a care home contract comprise of?

A care home contract contains details of your care fees and any additional charges, which services you are entitled to during your stay, the exact terms of your stay and any obligations you or your care home must fulfil in the event of certain circumstances, such as terminating the contract. Care home contracts also cover trial periods, accommodation type and insurance.

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 to see whether they can resolve the issue. If you want 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.

Should a care home resident make a will?

All care home residents should make a will. If you do not have a will and you lose the capacity to communicate or make decisions about your care, it will be difficult for doctors, care home staff and family members to make decisions for you and fulfill your wishes. Need help writing your will? Get in touch with Fairwill, who can help you create your will in no time at all.

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 if that person is no longer able to make or communicate their own decisions. Setting up a Power of Attorney can help you to convey your choices and preferences for your health and wellbeing, as well as your finances and property.

What facilities does a care home offer?

Care home facilities depend on the individual care home, but premium facilities typically include communal lounge areas, dining areas, dedicated activity rooms and gardens, while luxury facilities can include private dining, cinema rooms, hair and beauty salons, bars, cafés, on-site shops, libraries and spas.  Need help looking for a care home? Get in touch with one of Lottie's care experts to find your dream care home today.

What activities and home experiences does a care home offer?

Different care homes offer different home experiences and activity programmes. Premium home experiences include arts and crafts sessions, quizzes, board games, card games, and gardening, while luxury home experiences can include cooking and baking classes, fitness sessions, spa days, music classes and day trips and excursions. Need help looking for a care home? Get in touch with one of Lottie's care experts to find your dream care home today.

What is food like in a care home?

Care homes take each individual's dietary requirements and preferences into account to create meal plans tailored to their needs and tastes. Meals should be nutritiously balanced and tasty, made using fresh ingredients and there should be a choice of menus available to cater for for kosher, halal, gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan and diabetic residents.  Need help looking for a care home? Get in touch with one of Lottie's care experts to find your dream care home today.

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 available will depend on the care home, so if you or your relative are vegetarian or vegan it's best to check the care home's food options in advance.  Need help looking for a care home? Get in touch with one of Lottie's care experts to find your dream care home today.

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 and books. Some will also allow you to bring furniture with you, including TV, soft furnishings and even your own bed. When researching care homes, speak to the care home manager about your options. Need help looking for a care home? Get in touch with one of Lottie's care experts to find your dream care home today.

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 welcome pets. When researching care homes, ask the care home manager whether residents are allowed to bring their pet with them when they move in. Need help looking for a care home? Get in touch with one of Lottie's care experts to find your dream care home today.