Choosing a care home is more stressful than buying a house or deciding where your child goes to school, according to the NHS watchdog.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) says determining who should look after your loved one is one life’s most difficult experiences.
Many adults are concerned that they are abandoning their own caring responsibilities or placing a relative in a failing home.
Research shows that people selecting a care home rank it up there as one of the toughest decisions they’ve had to make
Others worry that they won’t be able to afford the fees – the move is often made at a time of crisis, such as following a fall or stroke.
Research by the CQC found that 52 per cent of adults who had previously chosen a care home found it to be one of life’s top three most stressful decisions.
Another 70 per cent said it was more stressful than buying a new home, determining where their child goes to school or nursery and picking a wedding venue.
The CQC wants to make the public aware of its own detailed inspection reviews of care homes which are published on its website.
Each care home is given an Ofsted-style award of excellent through to inadequate and the worst reports are highly critical.
The research of 1,000 adults also found that 30 per cent said choosing home help for a relative was one of the top three most difficult decisions.
Andrea Sutcliffe, CQC’s Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care said: ‘Choosing care can be a real worry for people, their families and carers, wondering who or where to turn to – but CQC can help.
‘The public needs to know about the quality of care services available and they also need to be reassured that if there are any problems, these are being identified and tackled.’
The research also revealed that 70 per cent of adults said it was more stressful than buying a new home
Caroline Dinenage, minister of state for care said: ‘Decisions around care for loved ones are daunting and often made under a lot of pressure. Making the right choice can feel challenging and sometimes overwhelming.’
Emily Holzhausen OBE, director of policy and public affairs at the charity, Carers UK, said: ‘Being able to quickly access information to help you make the right decision about the best care for a loved one makes a huge difference in what can be an immensely stressful time.
‘Decisions about long term care are often made at a time of crisis and have important consequences not only for the health and wellbeing of the person with care needs but for their families too. CQC ratings are a simple way of seeing the quality of care being provided by a service and give families confidence in choosing care.’
Figures from the CQC last July found that a third of nursing and residential homes were either inadequate or requires improvement.
In the worst homes elderly residents were left doing nothing all day and struggling to feed themselves at mealtimes.