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Reaching care home residents

Here you can find examples of good practice shared by local authorities in order to reach residents of care homes.

  1. Key considerations
  2. Options
  3. Experiences of others
  4. Potential benefits
  5. Considerations for the ERO
  6. Resources

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Key considerations

  • Residents of care homes are entitled to be registered to vote in the same way as any other eligible residents in a registration area
  • EROs must take the same prescribed steps to canvass care homes and issue ITRs as for any other property in their area
  • EROs can encounter difficulties with canvassing care homes, ranging from challenges with getting managers to engage with the process to the fact that some residents may not be able to easily provide the identifiers required to submit an application to register
  • 4% of people aged over 65 (416,000) are living in care homes in the UK
  • One approach that a number of EROs have taken to help them to meet these challenges is to separate care homes from their other canvassing activity and engage with them on an individual basis


Some EROs have found the following options helpful in preparing for their canvassing activity and meeting the challenge of ensuring care home residents are correctly registered:

  • Contacting care home managers in advance of sending the HEF to explain exactly what it is and what is required to complete it, and allowing completion of the HEF over the phone (North Somerset District Council)
  • Appointing a small number of experienced  canvassers to concentrate solely on care homes in the area (Arun District Council and Mendip District Council)
  • Tailoring registration materials, within the prescribed framework, to ensure they are most useful to care home staff (Cornwall County Council)
  • Hand delivering all HEFs and reminders to care homes, ensuring they attempt to engage with a member of staff each time
  • Liaising with relevant council departments who are responsible for care homes run by or on behalf of the council and the department responsible for funding any care, to share information relating to details of residents and help improve accuracy and completeness of registers

Experiences of others

Arun appointed two dedicated canvassers with a list of 60 care homes. They also contacted the care home administrators in advance and explained the canvass and registration process which resulted in higher HEF response rates than in previous years and better provision of the information required from residents to register.

Cornwall modified their HEF covering letter to specifically target individual care homes, with each one being addressed to the manager. They also included a ‘HEF continuation sheet’ with the form so that longer lists of new residents could be included. A copy of the letter they used can be seen here . Cornwall achieved an 88% response rate following their first reminders sent to care homes, which was an improvement on previous years.

Mendip utilise an officer who works for another department within the council, and who has experience engaging with residents for other purposes, as a specialist canvasser for engaging with care homes. They have found this to be a very effective way of getting the information they need.

Potential benefits

  • Improved HEF response rate, at an earlier stage in the process, from care homes (Arun District Council & Cornwall County Council)
  • Improved provision of national insurance numbers and dates of birth from residents on voter registration forms (Arun District Council)

Considerations for the ERO

  • The scale of the challenge in the area – is there a large number of care homes?
  • The number of care homes run by or on behalf of the Council and independently – are you able to utilise links with care homes managed by the Council?
  • The financial costs / benefits of employing experienced canvassers solely to visit care homes – will it be cost-effective to use a dedicated canvasser to focus solely on working with care homes?
  • Working with other departments within the council – are you able to utilise information, data and resources already available in other council departments?


Advice for care home staff on supporting residents to register to vote: England and Wales | Scotland

Assisted applications guidance which sets out what one person can do to help another to register: England and Wales | Scotland

General guidance to EROs on managing the canvass process: Part 3 – Canvass

Information on planning for personal canvassing, including on deploying canvassers: List of questions to inform canvass planning

Electoral administrator