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Choosing a residential care or nursing home

Once you have made the decision to move into a residential care or nursing home, you need to begin the process of choosing the right one for you. This can often take some time.

Your right to choose

Your local Health and Social Care (HSC) Trust can help you choose a home that meets your needs and, after a financial assessment, may contribute towards the cost.

You have the right to choose which home you live in. If your local HSC Trust is helping with your fees you can still choose as long as:

  • your choice is suitable for your care needs
  • there is a place available
  • a contract can be agreed with the home to make sure you receive the support you need
  • the cost is not more than the local trust normally pays for someone with your assessed needs

Visiting residential care or nursing homes you are interested in

If possible you should visit residential care or nursing homes that you are considering, to make sure they meet your current and possible future needs.

You might like to have a checklist with you of points that are important to you in case you forget to ask something.

Your Trust can work with you to consider things like:

  • is it accessible?
  • is appropriate equipment available - for example handrails, hoists, adjustable baths and armchairs?
  • can you keep your own doctor?
  • can your food and dietary needs be met?
  • can your religious or cultural needs be met?

Talking to staff, residents and managers can help you get an idea what living there might be like. You should feel able to visit more than once if you would like.

Finding the right residential care or nursing home

Finding the right home can take some time. If you have specific or complex care needs it can sometimes be difficult. Charities and organisations related to your specific disability might be able to offer advice about choosing a home. There are relatively few homes able to meet the needs of younger disabled people - your local Trust should be able to tell you about those in your area.

The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) inspects all registered homes and writes a report on what they find. Reading the reports on the homes you are considering might help you make a choice. These can be obtained from the RQIA or, the homes themselves.

Minimum standards issued by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety state that care homes should offer trial stays. This may include the chance to meet staff, have a meal and an overnight stay.

What if the residential care or nursing home you choose doesn't have a place?

You can arrange to go into a different home while you wait for a place or arrange for services at your own home. If your local Trust is helping with costs then they can help you with either of these options.

What if you want to move to a residential care or nursing home in a different area?

You may wish to move to a home in a different Trust area to the one where you currently live. This may be because you want to be near to relatives or the place where you grew up. If you have been assessed as needing care and your Trust has agreed to pay for you, then it is responsible for your fees - even if you choose a home somewhere else. Under certain circumstances your local Trust may be able to pay the home fees if they are more expensive.

Choosing a residential care or nursing home for someone else

If the person you care for is not able to express their choice then the local Trust should take your preferences into account.