Luckily, these days there’s a wide range of services and housing that allow us to stay in our own home but enjoy support from carers or wardens. Stairlifts are an example of a home-adaption that can allow elderly individuals to stay in their own home for longer! However, for some of us there comes a time when this isn’t enough; we need more comprehensive care. But how do you choose a care home that’s right for you, or your loved one? Here are important points to consider:
Funding. You may be able to get financial help for care home costs, but even if you’re not likely to be eligible, it’s still worth getting social services involved – they can provide information and carry out assessments to help you pick the most suitable care home.
Time scale. How urgently do you need to find a care home? Some homes may have a long waiting list.
Location. Are there family members or friends that you want close by? If you’re still able to get out and about, are there the leisure, shopping and religious facilities you want nearby?
Your needs. Not only health needs, but your dietary, social, religious and cultural needs too. Charities and organisations such as Independent Age, Mind, Mencap, the RNIB, the National Autistic Society, and Leonard Cheshire Disability have information on care homes that may suit your specific needs, as do some religious groups.
Visitors. How many visitors can you have? Must they visit you in a lounge, or can they come to your room? Can they visit at any time, or are visiting times restricted?
Life outside. Do they arrange outings? Are they happy for you go out, if this is safe, and if you need to be accompanied, how often will someone be available to accompany you?
Life inside. What are the bedrooms like? Are there double rooms for couples? Will you have your own bathroom? Can you keep pets, or take your own pictures and furnishings?
Communication. How are residents kept up-to-date with what’s happening? How do staff communicate with your relatives – regularly, or only when there’s a problem?
Focus of care. Is the care focussed on a rigid timetable, is it focussed as far as possible on what each resident wants and needs?
Track record. If you can, talk to people who are familiar with the care home you’re considering; current residents or their relatives are ideal. You can also ask the home for their inspection report, or find it on the internet. For care homes in England: the Care Quality Commission (CQC); in Northern Ireland the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA), in Scotland the Care Inspectorate and in Wales the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW).
Once you’ve made a shortlist, visit the homes to reassure yourself that they care clean and comfortable, and have a good atmosphere. Spend plenty of time in communal areas and make sure there are spaces where you will be happy either spending quiet time or socialising.
Lastly, give yourself as much time as possible to do research and make your decision. This may be your home for many years, so it’s important to make the right choice.