You are here:

Social care

How do I choose my social care?

Choosing your care services can be a daunting prospect. There are wealth of care options available, but which care service is right for you?

Overall, you will need to think about what you get most out of in life. You may have particular interests that you want to keep up, or you may simply want to spend time with your family or friends. You may have a job that you want to keep on doing, or a social activity, sport, religion or a political group that you want to keep up with. Your social care support should – as much as possible – help you to continue to do these things, and may help you find new things to do.

Read more about what constitutes care that is culturally appropriate.

When choosing the kind of care you also need to think about:

Location of your care

Advice on choosing care

Find out more about choosing care services on the Find Me Good Care website.

Your own home is probably the best place for you to get care services. At home is where you'll probably have family and friends and be in a familiar and hopefully safe environment. You may want to get help at home, perhaps through having home help come in to help you with daily tasks. To stay independently at home, you may need to have care services in the form of adaptations to your home (to help with mobility, for example) or simply equipment to help you out.

However, your home may not always be the best environment if you have care needs. It may not be safe for you, particularly if you do not have a friend or relative around to help (if you live in an isolated rural area for example). Or you may have particular needs that cannot be easily met in your home.

If you do need to move out of your home for care reasons, there are a variety of accommodation options that you may want to consider. These include sheltered housing, extra care housing and residential care homes or nursing homes.

If you are thinking about moving, it's worth considering whether it is best to stay in the area you are in now, which you will be familiar with, or whether you should move elsewhere to be nearer to family or friends. You may also want to think about the location from a practical perspective (whether it's on a bus route for example) or for other reasons (such as whether it has a nice view out of the window).

Services on offer

If you are choosing a care service – particularly if it's an ongoing service such as home care or a place in a care home, you should think about the particular things you want from the service. Use the services search to find out all about the location, services, facilities, staff and performance of a Care Quality Commission (CQC) registered care home or homecare provider. Your search results should tell you whether a service can support you if you have particular needs, such as a sensory impairment or a learning disability.

If the service is not registered with the CQC, you will have to ask them directly for information about the services, and you may want to get independent verification if any is available. Your local authority may have a list of local providers of support giving some detail on each.

Standards and quality of the care

Everyone has a right to expect certain standards in their care. Your care services should help keep you safe and well, but also treat you with dignity and respect. You should also always be able to express a choice in your care.

The standards for social care providers, such as care homes, are set out by the CQC. The CQC's inspection reports will tell you which services are meeting the minimum requirements.

Good quality services, in whatever form they take, will be personalised to you – treating you as an individual and attending to your personal needs. If you have homecare, for instance, the care workers who come into your home should listen to your wishes and include you and your family in decisions and care.

When choosing care you might want to look out for services that are signed up to the social care commitment. This commitment is an indication that the services are investing in improving the skills of their workforce and have pledged to improve care.

If you do not think the service is meeting these requirements you may want to make a complaint. See How do I get care? for information on what to do when things go wrong.

The price of your care

When choosing social care services, you will have to consider how much the services may cost. The cost of your care may reflect each of the aspects listed above: location, quality and the kinds of services offered.

If you have had an assessment from your local authority, you may be being provided services for free. However, many people have to pay for their own care services (self-funders), and even people who have care funded by the local authority will need to know about the costs of care if they are using a personal budget or a direct payment.

To find out more, read How can I fund my care?

The Money Advice Service has more information on choosing the right sort of care services.


How helpful is this page?

Average rating

Based on 81 ratings

All ratings

Add your rating


The 2 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

User916046 said on 29 October 2014

It is sometimes forgotten that you also have the option of live in care which is often less expensive than a care home. Staying at home and having a carer around 24/7 leaves you as much independence as possible and at the same time you get the necessary support, companionship and care.
What choices have you got or what sort of privacy can you retain in a care home? How many patients do carers in nursing homes look after? If you stay in your own home instead your carer will look after you and not you plus another 8-10 clients.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

RJW1963 said on 05 August 2013

When my local NHS Trust opted to put in place a pecuniary, privately managed parking system I refused to pay the outrageous charges and asked my GP about “Choices”. My Specialist also worked in a nearby private hospital but he wasn’t allowed to offer the same services there to me, as he was to NHS patients in the NHS Trust Hospital. To me that doesn’t sound like choices more like NHS Trust operating a “closed shop” or “exploiting a monopoly” certainly no choices where I get my care as the CEO operates both local NHS Trust Hospitals with the same pecuniary regime

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Page last reviewed: 28/03/2013

Next review due: 28/03/2015

Call Carers Direct on 0300 123 1053

Confidential information and advice for carers.

Lines are open 9am to 8pm Monday to Friday (except bank holidays), 11am to 4pm at weekends. Request a free call back or an interpreted call back in one of more than 170 languages including ربي, বাংলা, 中文, Français, ગુજરાતી, Polski, Português, ਪੰਜਾਬੀ, Soomaali, Español, Türkçe and .اردو.

You can talk to an adviser live online or send a query by email.

Find out more about the Carers Direct helpline.

Find and compare care services near you

Your NHS Health Check

Millions of people have already had their free "midlife MOT". Find out why this health check-up is so important

Who will pay for your care?

Long-term care can be costly. Find out ways to get funding for care and how to get the most for your money

Care home options explained

A simple guide to the options for residential care, and what you can expect from a good care home

Caring for an older disabled relative

Financial, practical and emotional support is available for those who care for an older relative

'I was inspired to be a Dementia Friend'

Read how one teenager with dreams of being a doctor was inspired to volunteer at a nearby care home

Get help with health costs

You may be entitled to help with health costs. Read about what help is available and how to claim