Beth Britton answers some common questions about care home placements when you’ve decided to move to a different county or region

Deciding the location of yours or a loved one’s care home is something many people agonise about.

Similar to the process you might go through when moving house, you want to choose the right area with the amenities you want, and to be in the right location for family and friends to visit. Crucially with a care home move, you also need to find a home with the right culture, values and services that are going to make it a true home-from-home.

My dad spent the last nine years of his life in care homes, and I’m passionate about supporting families to make the right choices about social care services. The best care homes are like an extension of your own home, and in this blog, I will answer some of the common questions you might have if the care home that’s right for you is in a different area to where you currently live.

Can I move to an out-of-area care home?

Yes, you can. You will need an assessment from your current local council’s social services department, but once that’s completed and you have been assessed as needing residential care, you are free to move to any care home, including one in a different county or in one of the UK’s devolved regions. This is subject to certain conditions if you are receiving social services funding for your care home placement. Your local council can inform you of these.

How will funding work?

Your local council will have to assess your assets – property, savings etc. – to determine how much you will need to contribute towards paying for your care, or if you will have to pay the full cost of care yourself.

Once this assessment is complete, you can move to any care home within the UK, with the council that originally completed the assessment covering any council-related costs. If you move to an area with higher fees, your local council would be expected to consider increasing any council funding you are entitled to, but make sure you’ve made your reasons for wanting this move clear during the assessment process.

If you want to move to a devolved region (Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland) you will need to arrange a cross-border placement with your current local council’s social services department, who will retain responsibility for the placement, including funding arrangements.

If you are self-funding (i.e. your assets are above the threshold for social services funding) you can pay for a care home that you choose in any part of the UK. In this case, you should be treated as an ordinary resident in the new local council area that you move to, and your new council will be responsible for funding arrangements should you become eligible for social services funding.

I’m already living in a care home but want to move to a different area – is this possible?

Yes, it is. You will need to speak to your local council if they are funding your care, and once you’ve decided where you will be moving to, they will need to liaise with that provider and the local council in the area you are moving to, provided the prospective home meets certain conditions. Your current local council can inform you of these. If your care needs have changed, you should also have a new care needs assessment from your current social services department to ensure that where you move to will be able to meet your needs.

If you are self-funding, you will need to read the terms and conditions of your contract with your current care home to understand how to terminate your agreement with them, including what their required notice period is. You should also bear in mind the point at which you may become eligible for social services funding. If you move to an out-of-area care home as a self-funder, the new local authority is responsible for you if you become eligible to receive local council social services funding.

Beyond funding, what other considerations should I be thinking about?

Any relocation as a person ages can be an upheaval. If the person also has a condition like dementia it may be even more challenging. Frequent moves may result in a person’s physical or mental health deteriorating, so whilst it’s possible to move care homes make sure you’re thinking carefully about why you’re choosing a particular home or area.

Some questions you might want to consider:

  • If you are moving to be closer to family, how settled are they in that location? If they are only living there for a temporary job, or while a child finishes at a particular school, they may well relocate themselves.
  • If you are moving care homes to be closer to family members, will being closer to your relatives offset leaving staff, residents or friends in your current location?
  • If you are moving from a rural area to an urban one (or vice versa), is this something you are going to be happy with? I.e. Changes in your environment, impact of noise and light pollution (in an urban environment) etc.
  • Is the area you are planning to move to one where you will have your cultural, wellbeing and activity needs met, not just by the care home but by opportunities within the local community? It’s worth doing some research before you move to see if this is the right location for you.
  • If you are moving care homes because you are unhappy with the care and support your current care home provide, consider if making a renewed effort to resolve these concerns might be more beneficial than relocating if a move is likely to be particularly stressful.

Next steps

To trial living in a care home or moving care homes, it might be helpful to arrange a respite break in the care home you are planning to relocate to. This will help you to get a good idea of whether you’ll be happy in the home and to explore the local area. Put your research to the test and be honest with yourself about whether this is the right move for you.

The Care Choices website allows you to search for care homes in your local area and nationwide. You can specify what kind of condition you may be looking to get help with, such as dementia care. In addition, Care Choices publishes a series of regional care services directories, explaining what your care options are and how to pay for them across a wide range of English counties. Each directory also features a list of all Care Quality Commission-registered care homes in the region, including contact details.