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arranging a visit


Most care homes have an 'open door' policy and will welcome you to visit any time.

However, you should ensure you have the opportunity to meet with the home manager, so contacting the home in advance to make an appointment would be recommended. You may be advised to visit the home without making a prior appointment and this may well give you a different perspective of what the home is like.  However do bear in mind that the home is likely to be a very busy place and in the better ones, the staff will be busy delivering care so you may need to wait and this can be frustrating.

Before your visit, do ring each home that you want to view and double-check that they can cater for any special needs you or your relative has - don't waste your time visiting homes that can not provide the level of care you need.

Get as much information as you can in advance of the visit and if possible ask for a brochure to be sent to you. 

Establish if you’ll need to visit with your relative – it can be useful to make an initial assessment on your own - all homes should offer a trial visit when the person is fit enough or when it is practical to do this. Allow for a minimum of two hours to really view the home properly.

What detail should you expect to cover off in that initial visit?

On that first visit you should be made to feel welcome and reassured that the home is run professionally with knowledgeable staff. Expect to see evidence of genuine empathy and concern and also honesty and integrity. They should be able to reassure you that they are capable of meeting your needs and a clear understanding of how to proceed if you want to.

Assuming that the home caters for your specific care needs, perhaps the single most important factor that you should be looking for are the attitude and skills of the staff. Ultimately the rest of the care will flow from the quality of the people and how responsive they are to your needs and preferences.

If you have difficulty travelling to visit short-listed homes, contact a local Age Concern or Citizens Advice Bureau who may have details of transport schemes in your area. 

For a different perspective of what to expect and how to prepare for an initial visit (which can be very intense and upsetting) you may find our indepth interviews with some care professionals helpful .