It makes sense to arrange a visit and when you do, use all your senses to help form a view.
See - Does the seating layout encourage people to socialise? Do residents look happy, well cared for and relaxed rather than slumped asleep? Look for signs of activity and things to do. This can mean a more able resident doing washing-up, newspapers in easy reach or personal photos and ornaments scattered around, as much as planned activity.
Hear - Listen for laughter and chatter. Do staff sit and chat with residents in a way that you and theresidents like? Do staff sound like they’re working in the residents’ home, rather than residents living in a workplace? Warning sounds to listen out for include shouting and the persistent ringing of unanswered call bells.
Smell - Is there a smell of fresh air, rather than air freshener masking unpleasant smells?
Feel - Do you feel positive as you leave?