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The scale of the care home need


410,000 people live in care homes in the UK today. It is predicted there will be a 36% increase in the number of over 85s by 2025. With an ageing population comes a growing demand for care provision and care homes. On episode 15 of The Retirement Café Podcast, Hollie Clarke of Colten Care shares her tips on how to choose the right care home to meet your needs.

The most common residential care options people consider are:

  • Residential nursing / care homes – as we’ve discussed above – which provide nursing care in a residential setting, with all meals and services provided.
  • Sheltered Accommodation – Normally has between 40-60 individual flats within one large secure building where residents live independently, sometimes with a communal space where occasional activities are organised. The facility is warden-controlled normally during working hours.
  • Care Village – provide residential and nursing care, but with additional on-site facilities such as tennis courts or a swimming pool.


Planning ahead


The key to success is planning:

  • If possible, plan ahead and undertake your research whilst you have time.
  • There are a number of funding sources that may need to be investigated. To find out what funding you may be eligble for, contact your social worker and the local authorities.
  • Once you’ve ascertained whether any funding is available or if you’ll be self-funding, create a short list of possible homes.


Making a shortlist:

  • A couple of helpful websites are and the Quality Care Commission site at www. These sites list all available care facilities and provide independent ratings, personal reviews and downloadable assessment reports.


Visiting your shortlist:

  • Turn up unannounced – that’s the best way to see a care home, the residents and staff in its natural environment.
  • Consider going at lunchtime or when an activity is due to be planned.


Killer questions to ask any prospective care home


  • How long has the manager been in post?
  • How long has the clinical lead been in post
  • Tell me more about the staff.
  • Can I see a weekly menu and a sample meal? (Maybe arrange your visit at a mealtime)
  • What activities and outings do you offer? Can I see a schedule?
  • Who decides what activities will be run?
  • What stimulation do you provide?
  • Which kind of residents do you best serve (eg with or without mental capacity / dementia)?
  • What are the charges and what’s included?
  • What charges are in addition to the care fees?


Dementia sufferers’ needs are not the same


Special considerations for dementia sufferers and what to look out for:

  • Dementia is classified as being at one of three stages – first, middle or last stage. Someone’s needs will differ depending upon their stage of dementia. Generally speaking, if someone has first stage dementia they may be quite forgetful. At second stage dementia they may feel confused within their environment, and during the last stage they will require nursing. It’s important to chose the right home depending upon their stage, but also to consider how the home could meet their changing needs to avoid a change of care home as time goes on, as this can be incredibly upsetting for the resident.
  • Many care homes will be registered for residential nursing care suitable for people with dementia. What that means is they are equipped to provide the nursing care, but they may not have nurses who are trained in dealing with mental health conditions or dementia specifically.
  • A stimulating, suitable environment for a dementia sufferer would be bright, colourful and sensory. For example, the plants selected for the garden and as houseplants would be highly scented and highly colourful.
  • In the first and second stages, residents with dementia may well be more able bodied than other residents, so it’s important that can explore the gardens and their surroundings safely and be free to roam. This isn’t always the case in a residential or nursing home.
  • Colten Care’s 20 homes are all residential and nursing homes. Four of them are also specific dementia homes. If you visit one of these homes you’ll notice the difference in the colour scheme, interior design, the gardens and the activities schedule. Activities are geared towards sensory stimulation, whereas activities in a nursing home are geared towards mental stimulation for those who still have mental capacity.



What about the costs?


The costs of care can appear exorbitant on the face of it, but delve deeper and understand what’s being provided for the cost, and it may not appear so expensive.

  • Costs typically include nursing care 24/7, accommodation akin to a hotel stay, hospitality, food and drink, activities and outings.
  • The cost of covering domiciliary care can escalate as someone’s needs change from one visit and one carer per day to 3-4 visits and possibly multiple carers, so be sure to forward plan whichever acare route you decide upon to understand future costs too.


Caring for couples where one partner is still independent but the other requires full time care and the spouse cannot manage alone can be difficult.

  • Some care homes, including Colten Care, have adjoining or dual occupancy rooms which allow the independent partner to retain their independence, whilst ensuring the person needing care gets the care they need 24/7.


Planning for care is key to any successful retirement plan, so make sure your financial planner creates scenarios that include funding care costs for you and your partner.

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