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HealthInfo Canterbury

Choosing a rest home or hospital

Should you require residential care, knowing where to start can be bewildering.

Service coordination

You will have had a support needs assessment to determine the level of care you require – rest home, private hospital, dementia unit or specialist hospital or psychogeriatric care. After the reason for this decision has been explained to you, your service coordinator will give you information about moving into residential care and an up-to-date list of residential care facilities suitable for your level of need. They will clarify eligibility criteria for funded assistance and assist you with settling into the care facility you choose. If the need for care is urgent, this can be done promptly by your service coordinator. (The website also has current information about all facilities in New Zealand.)

Making the choice

Often you do not have a lot of time to make a selection, so narrowing down the choice to a short list is helpful. The following are common considerations:

Frustratingly, there is no such thing as the best rest home. What may appeal to one person may not be important to another. Choose your new rest home according to criteria that are important to you. While a new purpose-built facility may look superior to an older, more homely one, there are merits in both. To quote the old adage, look beyond the bricks and mortar. The key component in an ideal care facility is the philosophy and delivery of care demonstrated by management and staff. Do not underestimate the importance of this factor.


Once you have arrived at a shortlist you can begin to make more in-depth enquiries. Have a look at several facilities to make comparisons. It can be helpful to take someone with you so you can compare notes afterwards. Some people prefer to write down their impressions after each visit to make this task easier. We have devised a checklist to help you with this.

You may like to ask the manager about a trial period after which you can both determine how suitable the match is.


Whatever type of facility you are looking for, your choice will be limited by what is available at the time. If your preferred facility does not have a vacancy you can ask to be put on a waiting list.

Admission agreement

As a new resident to the facility, you must be provided with an admission agreement which you will be asked to sign. Take it away and read it carefully first. If you don't understand something, ask for clarification. You may want to get legal advice, particularly if you would like to modify the agreement. You may also want to negotiate a reduced period of notice if you plan to move to a first-choice facility. The admission agreement should set out all terms and conditions and itemise costs, including any additional payments you agree to.

Transferring to another facility

If you wish to move to another rest home or hospital, it is important to notify your service coordinator to ensure the new facility is appropriate and that the necessary paperwork is completed so any funding and so on is redirected accordingly. Your agreement should show how much notice you need to give. A reassessment may also be necessary; if there has been some time since your last assessment, a different level of care is required or if the new facility is in a different DHB region.

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From Care Publications Where from Here, March 2012. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed February 2014.

Page reference: 53014

Review key: HIRRV-48277