Choosing a Care home or Nursing Home

Moving elderly parents into care homes or nursing homes is a major decision and not one to be taken lightly. There are financial, welfare and psychological aspects to be considered and very often it is a last resort. Sending elderly parents to a care home or nursing home often makes people feel very guilty, quite apart from the effect it has on the parent, so think very carefully. It is also a decision that has to be taken together, so include you, your parents and any other relatives and close friends of your parents who are likely to be affected.

The difference between care homes and nursing homes is the type of need your elderly parent has. If they need help in doing things because their mobility is restricted or for some other reason, they will require a care home. If, on the other hand, they have a condition that requires medical supervision, they will need a nursing home which are more expensive.


People will have different criteria for their elderly parents, but below are some that you might want to think about:

  • Is the nursing home close to shops, relatives and friends and is it close to transport links?
  • Is it all on one level and, if not, does it have lifts?
  • Does it have single bedrooms and/or will it accept married couples?
  • Does it have a garden the residents can use?
  • Does it appear bright and lively and does it have regular activities?
  • Are residents able to follow their own hobbies and interests?
  • How well trained and qualified are the staff and are there people on duty at night?
  • What provision is there for them to keep their belongings safely and privately?
  • How much freedom are they allowed and how much privacy are they afforded?
  • What are the visiting arrangements?
  • What are the mealtimes and how varied are the menus? Can residents make their own snacks and drinks?
  • What are the rules about alcohol?
  • Can residents make telephone calls whenever they wish in privacy?
  • Is there a suggestions and a complaints procedure?

Get as much information as possible on all of the topics that are important to you and your elderly parent and then match each of the care homes you see against that information. Don’t be taken in by grand furnishings and facilities; they are important but so are atmosphere, care and the lifestyle that is on offer. You should be able to get a feel for the nursing home the moment you step inside it – the atmosphere, the smell and so on. The key thing is that your elderly parent will feel at home.

It’s a huge decision to send your elderly parent to a care or nursing home. You will probably feel guilty that you are making it/have made it. However, if you can honestly say that you have done everything possible to find the best home for your elderly parent, depending on them and their personality, then there is no need for guilt.

The advantages of care for older people in nursing homes are:

  • Handing over responsibility for their care to professionals means that, when you go to see them, you can spend quality time with your elderly parents.
  • There is the social element to nursing homes in that your elderly parents can make friends with the other residents.

The disadvantages are:

  • The guilt that is associated with it.
  • Finding the right nursing home can be difficult and stressful.