How to choose a residential aged care facility


The decision to move into residential aged care is a big one!  It’s so important to decide on an aged care provider that is right for you or your loved one.

Let’s look at some of the key considerations and questions to ask when comparing and choosing a residential aged care facility or nursing home.

What to consider when choosing a residential aged care facility or nursing home

What type of care does your loved one need?

Firstly, what type of care, and what level of care do you or your loved one need?  The level of support required to live comfortably can influence what care you may be eligible for, and the funding you may receive.

Three main options for older Australians who require support to meet their well-being and lifestyle goals as they age are:

Home care services

Home Care Packages are allocated to older Australians who require a little help to remain living happily and independently at home.  Health care providers and other support staff will visit a senior person at home to support them both personally and around the home.

Home care is also available to older Australians living in retirement communities. The combination of the two is an excellent choice for seniors who are relatively self-sufficient but can benefit from some help and the safety blanket that a retirement village can provide.

Here’s more information about Home Care Packages: Home Care Package Guidelines

Retirement villages

Retirement villages are a good choice for older Australians who are looking to downsize but don’t need complicated care. Retirement villages offer services such as emergency call buttons that aren’t provided in the general community. They will also have communal facilities such as swimming pools and common areas. They also offer a sense of community giving residents an opportunity to stay connected.

Here’s more information about retirement village living:  Residential Aged Care vs Retirement Living

Residential aged care facilities – aka Nursing homes or aged care homes

Residential aged care homes are suitable for older Australians who need more help and support to get by each day.

Your choice of an aged care home may be dictated by things such as location, size, price and the level of care you or your loved one needs. While many homes will have facilities to deal with all levels of health issues in older Australians, if you or your loved one has complex care needs such as extreme mobility issues or dementia, you will ideally select an aged care home facility that caters specifically to their needs.

What makes a good aged care home?

The best aged care homes take good care of their residents and make sure they are happy and healthy. They also prioritise excellent communication with family members, to keep them up to date with the care and wellbeing of their loved one.

Industry-leading facilities offer features such as:

  • Private rooms with ensuite bathrooms
  • On-site chefs
  • Sheltered outdoor areas
  • Regular activities
  • On-site cafes and parking for guests
  • Appropriate staff to resident ratios


At Aged Care Decisions we can assist at every step of your residential aged care journey – from shortlisting facilities to organising tours, to helping with administration and paperwork.  Connect with us now to explore aged care options tailored to you – with no stress, no running around, and at ZERO cost to you.

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Here’s how Aged Care Decisions’ FREE aged care matching service works:


How can you find and choose a good residential aged care facility?

The best way to begin to establish whether the home you are considering is right for your loved one is to do a tour and ask lots of questions.

What to expect on an aged care home tour

When you take a tour of an aged care facility, expect to be introduced to staff members and some residents and be given the opportunity to ask them questions. You will be able to see what the rooms are like, and you can check out the dining room and the common areas. Your guide may also talk you through the schedule of activities and explain what happens in terms of doctor’s appointments, etc.

Figure out which questions you really want to ask before you arrive and have them ready in a list, so you don’t forget.

Be aware that you may need to take a RAT test before you enter, and you will probably be asked to wear a face mask while you are at the facility. This will depend on what is happening with COVID, any flu outbreaks during flu season, and any regulations that may be in place.

What are the best questions to ask when you visit an aged care home?

Use the following as a checklist when choosing an aged care facility:

Meeting personal care needs

  • How are care and support services provided at this centre?
  • Will family and other loved ones be included in the care plan?
  • What training and qualifications do the care staff have?
  • How do you manage clinical care needs, such as administering medication or treating wounds?
  • How many staff are on duty overnight?
  • Is there always a Registered Nurse on call?
  • How are appointments with doctors and other health professionals managed?

Rooms and facilities

  • How big are the rooms/suites?
  • What is the difference between shared and private rooms?
  • What is available in terms of common areas or gardens?
  • How can the room be personalised?
  • Are pets allowed on site?


  • What checks are in place to ensure quality services?
  • What are you doing to maintain and improve the quality of the care you provide?

Catering for dietary requirements and preferences

  • Are special dietary requirements like allergies, cultural foods, etc catered for?
  • What are the meal arrangements?

Staying active and engaged

  • What sort of social activities are on offer?
  • Will I be able to suggest activities based on my interests?
  • Are there any organised outings?
  • Are there regular events for visitors and family?

Support with day-to-day living

  • How are residents helped with bathing, dressing, and going to the toilet?
  • How does the facility support people to move around safely?
  • How do the staff provide support at mealtimes?

General aged care home policies

  • What is the visitor policy for family and friends?
  • How does the facility deal with resident concerns and complaints?
  • How are the safety and security of the residents managed?
  • What measures are in place for emergencies?
  • What is the COVID outbreak policy?

You may not be able to ask every question during your visit, but you can send a follow-up email for further information.

Here’s some more information about preparing for facility tours:  What to look out for on an aged care facility tour 

What else should you look for in an aged care home?

Here are a few other things to keep an eye out for when you visit:

  • Are flowers fresh?
  • Is the place clean?
  • Are staff friendly and welcoming?
  • How are residents spoken to by staff?
  • Do residents appear to be happy and healthy?
  • Does the facility feel well-lit and spacious?

Culture is also very important to how comfortable your loved one may be in an aged care home. You may look at a facility that ticks all the boxes, but cultural blocks can easily make it unsuitable. For instance, if your loved one is an English speaker and the home in question has predominantly Italian-speaking residents, your loved one may not be comfortable there.

If you have a family member transitioning to full-time care, you have to keep their preferences at the forefront. You may find that a facility that you like, because it is sleek and new, isn’t to your loved one’s taste because they prefer a homely environment with established gardens.

Here is some more information about aged care homes:  What do aged care homes provide?

How to find aged care homes in Australia

Aged Care Decisions provides FREE assistance to families at every stage of the aged care or home care journey. We assist thousands of families every month, 100% free of charge.

Connect with Aged Care Decisions now to receive a customised list of aged care homes near you.

Looking for expert advice?

Talk to one of our aged care specialists

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