We don’t underestimate how difficult it is for people to choose the right care home for their family member. Often, individuals haven’t been in this position before and it’s a whole world of new experiences and decisions. This is made harder by the reality that it may feel very difficult making the decision to move your family member to a care home anyway.
Here are our top tips:
There are different sorts of care homes. Typically, your choices rest between residential care and nursing care, as well as specialist care settings e.g. for those with dementia. Find out about the different types of care home and choose the right one for your family member.
Figuring out where to start is a lot easier since the internet got involved! Search for the right type of home in your area e.g. ‘nursing care homes in North Devon’ and you’ll find what’s available in your area. On their websites you can get a good feel for the setting and whether your family member will feel comfortable there.
Sometimes it’s easiest to find out what you’re looking for by comparing one home with another. For example, you may think a home is perfect for your mother until you find another one has in-house hairdressing and realise that would be important to her.
Looking at the website is great, but going and looking around the care home in person will give you a much better idea if it’s right for your family member. Consider the facilities but also the interaction of the staff and the residents. Always pay attention to cleanliness as this is an excellent gauge of good management.
Not everything can be revealed by looking at the premises alone. Be ready to ask the right questions to find out more. For example, ask about what activities they have run recently, or ask if they have a dedicated social coordinator. Try to ask some scenario-based questions which are relevant to your family member e.g. “Can my dad have a glass of whisky in the evening?”
Most care homes will have a guest book or visitor’s book. Have a quick look and see what comments other relatives make.
Many care homes will ensure that they have information or a prospectus for you to take away with you after your visit. This should include information about things such as fees, safety policies, CQC rating, and care plans. Go through this thoroughly and email any follow-up questions to the home.
With all of your information together, ask yourself if you’ve got answers to everything. Do you know about safety? Visiting? Activities? Staffing? Meals? If you’ve got any questions left, go back to the home again and ask for more information. Good homes recognise that this is a difficult decision to make.
If possible, do include your family member with the decision. You’ll be the best judge of how involved in the decision they can be, but wherever possible it is good to give people a sense of agency and help them feel that they have some control.