What makes an exceptional care home?

In the United Kingdom, there are over 80 thousand children and young people in the care system. And more than 6 in 10 of these children are aged 10-17. For any child, moving into a residential facility that is not their family home or usual environment can be distressing, confusing, and scary, particularly if they are moving away from their hometown to a more appropriate facility.    It is important once a child reaches these facilities they are met with an environment that feels like a home, not a cold blank holding space. Small elements such as a doorbell and mailroom may add to the ‘homey’ feel but what really makes a care home exceptional is down to three key points.


When a child is relocated to a care home it is important that their room is reflective of their interests and personality. While it may not be practical to completely redecorate for each child, it is imperative that the home staff allow the child agency to create a space that they feel safe and comfortable in. This could include removable friendly wallpaper, posters, and personal belongings from home. When an effort is made to create this environment that represents the child, the home becomes a less daunting prospect and the transition into care will be easier. Looked after children deserve the same experiences and opportunities as any other child. To make mistakes, to learn and have fun with their friends.  An excellent care home will facilitate a healthy lifestyle for the child to ensure they do not miss out on anything that is a reasonable ask. This could include school trips, discos, events, birthday celebrations, even supplying pocket money so that the child can meet their friends, go to the cinema/ arcade etc, and generally enjoy their childhood on the same trajectory as their peers.   Children in care may have come from situations where they haven’t had access to regular dental checkups, optician appointments, and hair appointments. Of course, the dentist and opticians are a matter of health, but hair can be a way for young people to practice self-expression. A good care home will support a child’s decision to change their appearance and make an effort to book regular appointments when required.  On self-expression, care homes need to respect the identities of their residents, this includes using correct pronouns, chosen names, and actively encouraging all children to respect one another regardless of race, age, sexuality, or circumstance. 


Care home staff have a responsibility to keep all residents in a safe, stable community. This means many things.The building or buildings must be in good repair and be acceptably furnished with enough space for both staff and children to live comfortably. These buildings need to be secure so that at-risk residents are not in danger, this can include alarms, cameras, or security systems. However, there is a difference between secure and cell-like. Where possible, bars on windows, locked emergency exits and the like should be avoided.  The children should be able to trust the adults they are surrounded by, this means mutual respect from both parties.  Any complaint made against a member of staff by a resident must be taken seriously and investigated, with an appropriate course of action following this.  There must also be the security that the child does have a secure place in the home, this can be achieved by creating a sense of unity between all residents, and having them share responsibility for the space in which they live. 


A child’s life can be tenuous at the best of times, with school, friendship pressures, and hormones, it is imperative that they have a solid support system to tackle any issue they may have. When a child is taken into care this doesn’t change. An excellent care home understands that children will be children and the support that is required. Whether that be help with homework, getting additional support through school, identifying the next stages after GCSE, or working with local authorities to ensure any complex needs are being met.   It is also paramount that staff support, where possible, any desires for extracurriculars such as scouts, performing arts, football etc are met with enthusiasm. To have someone cheer you on from the sidelines is a necessity for any young person.  What makes a good care home is kind, understanding staff, a safe environment, and basic needs to be met. What makes an excellent care home is staff that will support their charges through their formative years, respect identities, create a personal and safe environment for children to grow into themselves, and keep them safe from harm.

Share on:

Space for call to action for the user

Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus.