Choosing a care home

Making a decision

Sometimes living at home is no longer a practical option, caring can be exhausting both physically and mentally. There may come a time when it is no longer possible to look after the person you care for at home, and moving into a care home may be the best way forward.

This may well be the most difficult time for the carer and cared for and the decision to move can often arise quite suddenly.  For others it may be possible to take more time.

It is worth remembering that careful consideration at this stage may avoid disruption later.

Discuss all the options with family and friends as well as health professionals and specialist advisers.

Ask for an assessment or re-assessment of care needs from Oxfordshire County Council Social and Community Services.  

This means that a social worker or care manager will assess the needs of the person you care for, you as a carer should also be able to contribute to the discussion of the needs of the person you care for, so your needs are taken into account when planning services or options for them.

You as a carer can also ask for your own assessment of your needs or request a joint needs assessment for both you and the person you care for.

  • To arrange a re-assessment contact the cared-for person's care manager. 

Once needs have been assessed services may be offered to meet needs that pose a critical or substantial risk to independence, in line with the Government’s Fair Access to Care Services guidelines.  Methods to best meet the needs of the cared for will be discussed and agreed. 

If a decision to move into a care home is reached, a social worker or care manager will provide information about homes and help the cared for visit homes they may wish to consider. If a care home providing nursing is the best solution a specially trained nurse will assess the nursing needs, to determine the level of nursing care the NHS will fund.  It is important to get the nursing determination done before the cared for goes into a care home.

Funding your choice

One of the main concerns may be how to pay for care.  Whether or not you get help with fees, the person you care for should have some choice about which care home is right for them.  Working out priorities will help to narrow your choices

Depending on the cared for’s financial circumstances they may be expected to pay for or contribute towards the cost of their care.  Following a financial assessment they will be given a clear idea of what they can expect to pay and how the charges are calculated.

If they are assessed as paying the full cost of their care, the council can still provide advice and support.  If they choose to move into a care home they can visit the Oxfordshire’s care home vacancy website by going to  This website will enable them to search for care homes in Oxfordshire and find one with a vacancy.

For more advice regarding support if you are funding your own care contact the Oxfordshire County Council’s Social & Health Care Team on 0345 050 7666 or email

If the cared for is funding their own care it is advisable to consult a solicitor before signing any contract to ensure that the terms are fair and you understand your rights and obligations. You may want to consult a solicitor or financial advisor on how to plan your finances. There are some free advice services available and you may be entitled to legal aid.

  • NHFAwill guide people through the process of obtaining and paying for care. Telephone 0800 00 88 33 to arrange to speak to a care fees advisor or ask for an information pack. Complete the care fees planning questionnaire online.
  • Age UK– telephone: 0800 169 6565 - fact sheet “Paying for permanent residential care”,  “Paying for care if you have a partner”, “Paying for temporary care in a care home”

Making the move/settling in to the new surroundings

How to help the person you care for settle in to new surroundings can be a worry and some care homes are able to offer respite prior to more long term care. This can make the new home feel more familiar to both you as the carer and the person you care for when the move is long term.

Discussing concerns you or the cared for may have with staff at the care home will help to build good relationships.

In the same way it helps to prepare in advance what can be moved - some familiar ornaments and photographs.  Some homes have room for items of personal furniture. 

Pets are sometimes allowed but The Cinnamon Trust telephone will offer advice if pets have to be left behind telephone: 01736 757900

Your role as the Carer will change; you will have spent a lot of time and energy in trying to arrange the best option for the person you care for.  You may feel it would help to talk to people about how you feel and how best to try and reorganise your life to fit the changes. 

The Relative and Residents Association help support both you as the carer and the person in the care home, telephone: 0207 359 8136

See also - At the end of the caring role which has information which may be of relevance to your individual situation.


Useful contacts

The Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission keeps a database of care providers complete with its own inspection ratings. You can search its directory of reports on care services here:

Or contact them directly:

Please note: The organisations listed on this page are not endorsed or recommended by Oxfordshire County Council and the contact details are provided for information only.

Please feel free to contact any of the organisations on this fact sheet yourself. If required, Carers Oxfordshire can also help you further. You can contact them on 0345 050 7666, Monday to Thursday 8.30am-5pm, Friday 8.30am-4pm


From Carers Direct

Content Supplied by NHS Choices