Questions to ask when visiting a prospective care home

First Impressions

  • Does the home have a friendly and welcoming atmosphere?
  • Do the staff ask about you and your interests?
  • Does the home appear well decorated and well kept?
  • Is the home clean and fresh?
  • Does the home seem a comfortable temperature for you and other residents?
  • Do staff treat the residents in a friendly manner and respect their wishes on how they would like to be addressed (eg, as Mr or Mrs or by first name)?
  • Do staff appear caring and attentive towards residents?
  • Does there appear to be adequate members of staff on duty to give enough individual attention?
  • Are there people of a similar age to you, with similar interests, who you will be able to get to know further?
  • Do the other residents seem active and content?


  • Are there local facilities near the home, such as shops, places of religious worship or pubs that you will be able to access?
  • Does the home have its own transport to enable you to get around, or is public transport easily accessible?
  • Will it be easy for you to keep in touch with your friends and family? 

The building

  • Is there a garden that residents can access safely?
  • Are there smoke detectors or fire extinguishers visible throughout the home? Are fire exits and escape routes clearly marked?
  • Can wheelchair users move around the home easily? If there is more than one floor, are there lifts?
  • Are there call bells in the bedrooms and communal areas?
  • Are corridors and stairs suitable for people with sight impairment to get around easily (for example handrails painted a different colour)?


  • Do the rooms have their own bathroom and toilet en suite?
  • Are double rooms available for married couples?
  • Are you able to bring some of your own furniture and belongings to personalise your room?
  • Are you able to lock the door to your room?
  • Are you able to have a TV in your room?
  • Are you able to have a telephone in your room?
  • Are there adequate power points to be able to plug in all your electrical items, such as lamps, radio?


  • Are there toilets within easy reach of all communal facilities?
  • Are the toilets, baths and showers adapted to make them easy and private for residents to use?

Communal rooms

  • Is there a choice of lounges?
  • Is there more than one TV room?
  • Is there a quiet room with no TV?
  • Is there a loop facility so that people who are hard of hearing can hear the television?
  • Is the furniture in the communal areas arranged in a comfortable way?
  • Are you aware of the home’s policies on things such as alcohol, smoking and pets?
  • Is there a residents’ committee or group that you can be part of you if you wish? Are you able to influence what happens in the home?
  • Would there be an individual member of staff whose job is to take a special interest in your welfare?
  • Can you get up and go to bed when you want to?
  • How often will your room be cleaned?
  • Can you help around the home if you want to?
  • Is it possible to buy items in the home such as stamps, sweets and newspapers?
  • Is there a telephone that you can use in private and that meets any special requirements you may have (such as amplification)?

Personal possessions

  • Is there a secure place where your valuables can be kept?
  • Does the home take responsibility for insuring resident’s possessions?
  • Are you allowed to bring pets with you?


  • Can you have your meals in your own room if you wish?
  • Is it possible to have meals other than at set times?
  • Are you able to have/make a snack whenever you want?
  • What time is the last meal of the day served?
  • Do today’s menus give a choice of dishes?
  • Do the menus seem to you to be well balanced and nutritious?
  • Can special diets be catered for?
  • Can menus include food that you particularly like?
  • Is fresh fruit available at all times?
  • Can you have hot and cold drinks through the day and night, should you need one?

Leisure activities

  • Would you be able to carry on your existing hobbies or activities?
  • Are there new activities that you could get involved in, are regular classes held (e.g. exercise, games)?
  • Are there regular social events and activities?
  • Does a mobile library visit the home?


  • Can the home meet with your spiritual and cultural needs?


  • Are there specific visiting times or can family and friends visit without restriction?
  • Will you be able to spend time with your friends and family in private?
  • Can you make/offer your visitors a drink or snack?
  • Can visitors stay for a meal?

Personal care

  • Can you have a say in the way you are looked after/helped?
  • Is there help with personal care if you require it (eg washing, bathing, going to the toilet)?
  • Can relatives or friends help you with personal care if you wish?
  • Does a hairdresser/barber visit the home regularly?

Health care

  • Are you able to keep the same doctor as you have now, or is there a local doctor that accepts patients from the home?
  • Does the doctor visit the home regularly?
  • Can you access chiropody or dentistry?
  • If your health gets worse can you continue to live at the home, with increased support from staff?
  • What aids does the home provide?

Running of the home

  • Who runs the home?
  • Are they the owner or the manager?
  • How long have they been running the home?
  • When can they be contacted? What happens if you need to contact them outside of their normal working hours?
  • How many residents are there at the home?

How many staff are there on duty

  • In the morning?
  • In the afternoon?
  • In the evening?
  • At night?
  • Are night staff awake or on call?
  • Would your family/friends be invited to a review of your care needs?
  • What arrangements are there in place for making sure that people are safe in the event of a fire?

Terms and Conditions

  • You should be able to see a copy of the contract you will be required to sign before moving into the home
  • Can you have a trial period, and how long will this last?
  • If you decide that you no longer want to stay at the home how much notice would you need to give?
  • What is the weekly charge for the care you need?
  • What does this charge cover?
  • Are there any additional charges payable, and, if so, what do these cover?
  • Are fees payable in advance or arrears, and are they payable weekly or monthly?
  • How often do the fees increase, and how is this increase decided?
  • What happens to your room if you have to go into hospital?
  • In what circumstances might you be asked to leave the home?
  • Does the home accept the fee rates, called the 'Indicative Rates' set by Peterborough City Council?
  • If you have savings to pay for your own fee, what happens when your funds start to run out?
  • Will the home make you move out if your savings drop to a level where you cannot make a contribution?

Policies and Procedures

  • Does the care home have a  current Registration Certificate on display?
  • Does the care home have their Insurance Indemnity Policies on display?
  • Did the care home explain their complaints and compliments policy to you?
  • Did the care home give you a copy of their Safeguarding Policy and was this explained to you?