A Guide for Service Users

What is a residential service or care home?

A residential service is sometimes called a care home. Residential services and care homes provide support to service users during the day and at night.

An organisation called the Care Quality Commission or CQC visits the service to make sure the service is providing the right care for you and the other service users. The people who live in a care home are sometimes called ‘service users.’


Where do I find a service?

You can find a service suitable for you by;

  • Looking on the Care Quality Commission website at www.cqc.org.uk. Here you will be able to look at all the care homes available in the town or area of your choice. You will also be able to see if the CQC think it is a good service, or if there are things it needs to do better.
  • Your Social Worker might have a list for you to choose from
  • Some charities may have a list for you to use. If you already work with a charity, you can ask them if they can help you with this
  • Most companies who provide care homes have their own websites. Some of these websites allow you to search through all of their homes so you can find one in your area. 

What happens once I have found a service I might like?

  1. Your Social Worker will help you find somewhere that can meet your needs
  2. Your Social Worker will contact your chosen service and ask them to come and see you
  3. The service will come and talk to you about your general health, your history, your goals for the future and any other needs you may have; this is called the assessment.
  4. The service will then write up their findings and say how they think they can meet your needs; this is called the assessment report or the placement proposal. The report will be sent to your Social Worker
  5. Your Social Worker will give a copy of the report to a group of professionals called the panel. The panel will look at the report and make sure the service can meet your needs. The panel will also make sure they can pay for the service.
  6. When the panel are looking at the report, you might be invited to visit the service. Your Social Worker can arrange this for you.
  7. The panel will let you Social Worker know if they can pay for the service; this is called funding approval. When you have funding approval, you can start to make plans to move in! Your Social Worker and the new service will help you with this. 
  8. You may have a transition period which is where you visit the service for a few days before you move in so you can get to know the routine and the staff and make sure you like it.


Things to think about when you choose a service

Where is the service?

Should the service be near or far away from where you are now? Staying close to family and friends may mean it will be easier to keep in touch with them. You may also want to consider the community facilities that are close to the service; are there shops, cafes, sports facilities or colleges nearby? Is there a lot to do in the local area? Is it in a town, village or city? Are there good transport links that can help you get around and visit neighbouring towns and cities? Think about the things you like to do, then see if they are available in the area.

How big is the service?

You will need to think about the size of the service and how many other people you want to live with. Smaller services are sometime quieter and have a more homely atmosphere. Larger services may have lots going on at the same time and feel busier. If you like a quiet, calm environment, you may want to think about a smaller home. If you like to be busy and around lots of people, you may want to look at a larger home, or a home with more people your own age.

Your bedroom

Some services may let you to choose your own room and many will let you decorate your room with posters, photographs and other personal items that will help you feel at home. If you have something special that you would want to take with you, you should check to make sure the bedroom has enough space for these things. You might also want to check if you get your own private shower room and toilet.

Food and Drinks

You may want to ask if you can prepare your own meals or get involved with shopping for the household. If you have a special diet you should tell a member of staff so they can make sure you have the foods you need. You should also make sure the staff know about your favourite food and drinks and if there is anything you really don’t like.


If you have a particular interest or hobby you need to consider whether or not the service can help you continue with the activity. Some services have activity timetables where you can join in activities with other service users and others will help you to choose what you want to do and provide staff to help you.

Service staff

You may want to meet staff members at your chosen service before you move in, so they can get to know you and you them. It is important to have a good relationship with staff members. Staff members will want to understand your history, your goals and your ambitions so they can give you the best possible care and support.

If the service is a specialist provider, staff should receive specialist training. For example, if the service provides specialist care for service users with Autism, staff should have received training on Autism and the needs of this service user group.

The service should have a strong senior management team that has experience in health and social care. You can ask who is on the senior management team when you visit the service; they will be able to help you if you have a problem that cannot be sorted out at the service.

Activity Board



  • Are family and friends close by?
  • Is there enough to do in the local area?
  • Are there local colleges nearby?
  • Can you get a bus, tram or train easily?
  • Is it easy for visitors to find?

Service facilities and appearance

  • Is there a garden area?
  • Is there space to relax on your own and with other service users?
  • Are the grounds and the building looked after?
  • Is it clean and tidy inside?
  • Does the service have internet access?
  • Do the bedrooms have ensuite shower or bathrooms?
  • Does the service feel welcoming and homely?
  • Is the service accessible for wheelchair users?

Service ethos/philosophy/outcomes

  • How can you be part of the local community?
  • Does the service provide care that is tailored to each person?
  • How does the service help you to become more independent?


  • How many staff work there in the day and at night?
  • Are there extra staff if you need extra support?
  • What sort of training do staff have?
  • Are the staff warm and friendly?
  • Do the staff treat you as an individual and respect your wishes?


  • Can visitors visit at any time or do they need to make an appointment?
  • Is there parking available for visitors?

Day to day life

  • Can you make your own meals?
  • Can service users go to bed and get up at a time they choose?
  • Is there somewhere you can use the telephone?
  • Can service users help with the day-to-day running of the household?
  • Can you have pets at the service?
  • How often can you go out into the community?
  • Will you be able to go on a holiday?
  • Are there opportunities for service users to develop new skills and/or take part in community based projects?