Residential Homes & Nursing Homes

A list of questions to ask and things you should look out for during an
inspection visit to a Care Home.

To print out this list, simply click ‘file’ and ‘print’ in your browser.


Is there a clean, fresh smell? 

How do staff address residents? Are they polite and friendly, or overfamiliar and condescending?

What training do staff have?

How many (full time equivalent) staff are there?

What are the arrangements for medical cover? Are there arrangements for other treatments such as physiotherapy or dentistry?

Are residents predominantly in their own rooms, or are they in the lounges or sitting areas?

Ask about what activities take place, and how often.

Ask who chooses activities, whether there is a residents’ committee, or other ways for residents to influence and control life in the home.

Is there a choice of places to sit, so that people do not have to watch television all the time and can be quiet if they wish.

Are people sitting round the outer edges of the sitting room in a ring, or are they in small groups and at least a few involved in conversations.

Can residents continue to participate in organisations which they have enjoyed before admission, such as a Church or club? Is there any transport to enable them to do this?

How often are residents taken out?

Are residents’ religious needs catered for?

Try to visit at a meal time. Does the food look appetising? Is there any choice of food? Is the food served with care?

Ask if residents are allowed to eat in their own rooms if they wish.

Ask what time breakfast is served, and whether people can have breakfast later if they wish.

Ask if residents can make hot drinks and snacks for themselves if they wish.

Ask if residents are able to help in the kitchen.

Try to ask residents how long they have been in the home and what they most like, or dislike, about it.

Ask residents whether they have as much privacy as they want or whether they are lonely.

Ask whether residents (if they are physically able) can go out on their own

Is there a lift between floors?

Ask to see a bedroom and find out whether or not they are all single and whether there are en-suite facilities (for all) or not.

Establish whether there are telephones in rooms, or whether there is an easily accessible telephone for residents to use.

Find out whether residents can bring their own furniture and possessions for their room.

Are residents allowed alcohol? Are smokers and non-smokers catered for?

What are the arrangements for personal laundry?

Are pets allowed?

Establish whether there is a garden and whether residents have access to the whole of it.

Ask for a list of the rules.

Ask about the complaints policy and procedure.

Make sure that you have been given comprehensive information about fees and about any extras. Make sure you know what is included (chiropody? hairdressing? incontinence pads? etc.)

You may want to know whether the home is owned by a sole proprietor or whether it is part of a larger company owning other homes and possibly providing other services.

Finally, time spent gaining a feel for the long term business viability of the home(s) you are considering will be time very well spent. Don’t be afraid to ask the relevant Local Authority for its considered opinions. With homes now closing at the rate of two to three per week and 70.000 beds lost since 1997, the trauma ofan enforced move from your chosen home through future closure is becoming more and more commonplace.




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