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Make a good choice. Use our care home CHECKLIST

There is a lot to think about (and sometimes not much time) to decide which care home is right for you. Use this list to spark ideas and questions. 


Residents’ rooms should be clean, comfortable and have enough floor space. Consider how practical a full ensuite might be. It may not be essential, especially if you need full assistance with your personal care. Communal areas should be accessi­ble for your dining, relaxation and activity needs.

⇒  Is there space for your own furniture and other personal items?

⇒  Are you able to adjust the heating in your room to suit yourself?

⇒  Are rooms sunny and well lit, with an outside window?

⇒  ! Are toilets close by and easily accessible?

⇒  Is there easy access between areas? Any difficult steps or stairs?


Staff should show warmth and em­pathy with residents. There should be a noticeable involvement in quiet conversation and/or busier activities rather than residents sitting around the edge of the lounge where it is difficult to connect with others. The care home should have a comfort­able, inviting and confident feel about it.

⇒  Do the residents appear happy and well cared for?

⇒  Are they treated with respect by the staff?

⇒  ! Do staff get on well? Staff dynamics can reflect the culture of the home.

⇒  How are visitors greeted and treated?


A current, regularly updated Care Plan for each resident should be kept by the staff.

⇒  How will you and those closest to you be involved in your Care Plan?

⇒  What are the Registered Nurse hours and the caregiver-to-resident ratio?

⇒  Is there regular input from other health professionals, such as a physiotherapist?

⇒  What qualifications do the caregivers have?

⇒  ! What are the conditions relating to having your own GP? Is it prac­tical? If you keep your own GP you may find this costs more.

⇒  Is there a house GP on call at all times?

⇒  If your level of care changes, will you have to move to another room/ care home? 

⇒  Do staff involve residents in the life of the home in a sensitive manner?

⇒  Is the home clean, warm, odour-free?


⇒  Who controls your personal finances?

⇒  How well is your privacy managed?

⇒  Do staff knock and wait for an invi­tation before entering your room?

⇒  How well are individual preferences catered for? Are bedtimes flexible?

⇒  Do you choose what to wear for the day?

⇒  ! Are your sexual preferences, ethnic, cultural and spiritual values, and beliefs and lifestyles respected and upheld?

⇒  How often can you shower?

⇒  Can you have your own telephone, computer or TV in your room?

⇒  Do residents have a collective voice, such as a residents’ committee?


There should be a range of activities for those who wish to be involved and alternatives for those who do not. Some homes provide opportu­nities for you to be more involved in the activities of the home, such as serving up your own meals or being involved in the planning of activities. A list of the week’s activities, outings or events should be on display.

⇒  What qualifications does the activi­ties coordinator hold?

⇒  How meaningful are the activities? 

⇒  Is there an activities programme displayed? Who decides on the pro­gramme?

⇒  ! How frequent are the outings? Are there any associated costs?

⇒  How well are individual interests catered for?


⇒  Are there any additional costs? If so make sure these are itemised on your Admission Agreement and included in your budget.

⇒  Are any additional charges separable (able to be stopped without affecting which room you have) or are there wider implications?

⇒  ! How are complaints dealt with? Everyone has the right to make a complaint. Ask residents and their relatives about their experiences.

⇒  Ask how long Certification has been granted for. Longer periods such as 3 or 4 years generally indicate greater compliance with standards and requirements.


Meals should be varied, interesting, nutritious and appropriate. A daily menu should be on display.

⇒  ! Are the meals nutritious and appetising? Are the quantities sufficient for you?

⇒  Can you help yourself to drinks, fruit or snacks at any time?

⇒  Are there choices at meal times?

⇒  Can a relative/friend join you for morning/afternoon tea or main meals occasionally? If so, is there a cost?

⇒  Can you have meals in your room?


The care home should have systems and procedures in place to ensure resident safety. Staff should be confi­dent with all emergency drills.

⇒  Is the nurse call button within easy reach?

⇒  Are the building/s and grounds secured at night?

⇒  How often are fire and emergency drills held?

⇒  How do staff keep the emergency contact details of next of kin updat­ed?

⇒  ! If you have an accident, how is this managed? (It should be recorded, next of kin informed [generally], and steps taken to prevent it happening again.)

⇒  What does the care home do to en­sure safe medicine management?

⇒  What are staffing levels like at night or over the weekend?

⇒  Who fills in for staff when they are absent? Good cover should be arranged.

⇒  What is the staff training schedule? Is a quality programme used?

⇒  What system do staff have for up­dating each other between shifts?



If specialised dementia or hospital care is required, the need will be determined by a psychogeriatric as­sessment by mental health personnel. Family/whānau support will also be provided. The specialised nature of this service means that staff work­ing in these areas should have had appropriate training. When consider­ing specialised care options there are other issues to consider:

⇒  Do staff regularly interact in a warm and caring way with residents?

⇒  How accessible are staff? How often are Registered Nurses on duty?

⇒  How is the resident’s dignity main­tained? How is respect shown?

⇒  Are key relatives/former carers involved in making or revising care plans?

⇒  Are residents engaged in meaning­ful activities? How do staff oversee these?

⇒  ! How are behaviours that chal­lenge managed? Such behaviour often indicates the person is distressed about something. Skilled care and management can often determine what this is and alleviate it.

⇒  Are any restraints (medical and/or physical) used? If so ask the provider to explain their policy.

⇒  How will the service manage the person’s changing needs over time?

⇒  Is the physical environment such that residents can move about freely?

Find more information from Eldernet - New Zealand’s most trusted provider of information for older people and their whānau. 

Find: Residential care facilities & VACANCIES

Eldernet is NZ's only daily (Mon-Fri) updated directory of rest home, dementia, hospital and psychogeriatric care facilities.

Updated: 11 Jun 2024
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