Choosing your care services can be a daunting prospect. There are many care options available, but which kind of support is right for you?
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. When choosing the type of care, you also need to think about:
Location of your care
Your own home is often the best place for you to get care services. At home is where you may have family and friends and you’ll 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 perhaps just 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 is 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 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 more personal reasons (such as whether you like the surroundings).
The kinds of care 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 (this will often be referred to as your "outcomes").
Use the services search to find out 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 may 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 support providers, with information on each.
Standards and quality of 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 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. If you do not think the service is meeting these requirements, you may want to make a complaint.
Good quality services, in whatever form they take, will treat you as an individual and attend 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.
Check how well your local authority social services are performing.
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 get 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.