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What to look for when choosing an aged care facility

Choosing an aged care facility for you or a loved one is stressful.  You should always tour the facility as they are very personal – some people like homely environments whilst others prefer to live in modern and new housing.  Here is a a guide to what to look for when you have narrowed down the options in your preferred location.

  1. Are you warmly welcomed by staff?
  2. Do you observe staff interacting with residents?
  3. What is the skill mix of staff? Ideally facilities have a registered nurse on each shift who is supported by enrolled nurses and carers.
  4. What is the ratio of staff to residents? This fluctuates depending on the care needs of residents. A ratio of staff to residents of 1:6 is great but it can range up to 1:10. Remember to ask for AM shift, PM shift and night duty shift ratios as they will vary.
  5. Are residents actively engaged in activities?
  6. Have a look at the activities calendar to see the type of activities offered by the facility.
  7. If you can, visit around meal time so you can observe the meals served, the variety, size and the dining experience.
  8. Check out the size of the room. Ask what furniture is provided and what you can and cannot bring in. Is there internet access? Is there access for a phone? Is a TV provided?
  9. Observe the general condition of the facility. Is it light, bright, well maintained? Are there areas to meet privately with friends and family other than in the resident’s room? Is there access to outdoor areas?
  10. Ask to see the minutes from the last residents and relatives meeting to see what was discussed and check that the resident meetings are run regularly and there is proper follow up.

Don’t forget to make sure anything special to you is included or allowed. For example, if you are a smoker, is this permissible? There are many facilities now who do not allow smoking.  Can you bring your dog to visit?

If you have questions around choosing an aged care facility or need help, you can contact us at

This article was published by Sara Cook and Margaret Harrison, Directors of Signpost Aged Care Services