Your guide to care and support

Choosing care services

Choosing care services can be daunting. There are so many care options available it can be difficult to know which offers the right kind of support.

Think about what you get most out of in life. You may have particular interests you want to maintain, or you may simply want to spend time with your family and friends. You may have a job, or a social activity, sport, religion or political group you want to keep up with.

Your social care support should help you to continue to do these things as much as is possible and may help you find new things to do. When choosing the type of care, you also need to think about:

  • location
  • services
  • standards and quality
  • cost

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 someone come in to assist with daily tasks. To stay independent at home, you may need to have care services in the form of equipment (such as a walking frame) and home adaptations (to help with mobility, for example).

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 don't have a friend or relative around to help – for example, if you live in an isolated rural area – or you may have needs that cannot easily be met in your home.

If you need to move out of your home, there are a variety of accommodation options. These include:

If you're thinking about moving, consider whether it's best to stay in the area you're in now, which you will be familiar with, or whether you should move elsewhere to be nearer family or friends.

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're choosing a care service – particularly if it's an ongoing service such as homecare or a place in a care home – think about the specific things you want from the service.

Use our services search to find out about the location, services, facilities, staff and performance of a registered Care Quality Commission (CQC) 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 learning disability.

If the service isn't 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 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 not only help to 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 don't 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.

You can check how well your local authority social services are performing using My NHS.

The cost of your care

Cost will reflect the location, quality and kinds of care services offered. If you have had an assessment from your local authority, you may get services free. However, many people have to pay for their own care (self-funders).

But even those 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.

Page last reviewed: 19/01/2018
Next review due: 19/01/2021