Looking After Loved Ones By Finding The Perfect Care Home
None of us like to think that one day we may have to choose a care home for a loved one. However, the time may come so it is always wise to be prepared.
What can be quite an emotional and stressful time can be made much easier to deal with if we have in place some guidelines to follow. We may feel torn, as if we would rather look after them ourselves but very often this is not possible due to space requirements, medical care or specialist services that they need. We have to remind ourselves that we are looking after our loved one’s best interests and that we would only ever place them in a care home that we would choose for ourselves. If they are capable of being involved in the decision then you can make final choices with their help.
If you have never had to deal with this type of situation before, it may seem overwhelming but by breaking it down into easy-to-handle blocks of information, the process need not be so difficult. Here are the main things that you need to focus on.
When you move a relative to a care home or nursing home the manager will normally ask to see a care-needs assessment from the social services department. Sometimes this will be issued by your local authority. This should provide a full physical and mental assessment and indicate if they will receive help in the form of benefit from the Local Authority. Councils now only fund care where clients have been assessed as requiring it. Your relative may or may not have funds to cover the costs of the care home so this needs assessment is very important. It will provide all those involved with a professional assessment so that you know the level of care required and how much financial aid may be forthcoming. Always check this assessment very carefully when you receive it; if you feel that your relative has been incorrectly assessed i.e. their medical needs are far in excess of what is shown, always query it as corrections can be made.
Make a short list
Carry out some online research or ask social services for a list of care homes in your area that provide the right type of support; nursing homes provide a much higher level of medical care than pure residential homes. If your relative has dementia, a physical disability or a chronic or life-threatening illness, they may require specialist care so nursing and medical staff will need to be on hand. Look at the websites for each home and the inspection reports from the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
Check the care home inspection reports
All care homes are regularly inspected and the inspection reports will show the quality of care and home management. When you read the reports, look out for the following as any of these could indicate a problem:
- Points raised by inspectors and if they have been attended to
- High staff turnover
- Frequent inspections
Ask around for recommendations
Do you know other people that have family in care homes? Always ask around and get a good idea of the general opinion of local care homes. Recommendations are always immensely helpful as are indications or poor reputations.
Contact each short-listed care home
From the websites, contact each care home that you are interested in and ask for a brochure and prices. If your relative is receiving L.A. funding explain this to them. Ask about availability of rooms and discuss medical needs if necessary. Homes that are full or too expensive can be crossed off your list.
Visit the care homes
This is vitally important. Even if you like the look of a care home on paper, always visit once you have made an appointment. If possible, take a friend or family member with you to get a second opinion. When you visit, don’t just look at the rooms but look at the dining facilities, bathrooms, outside space/gardens. Find out what type of activities they provide to keep residents happy such as social occasions, visits by hairdressers, pedicurists etc.
It is important that you put yourself in the shoes of your loved one and try and identify with them and how they will feel living in this particular home. Do the staff seem friendly? Are they approachable? If they are fairly active, will they find plenty to do to stop them getting bored or depressed? If you like a particular home then think about making a second visit and if they are able-bodied, take your relative with you so that they can see whether or not they like it. The food on offer should be suitable for them and always take a good hard look at the location. Is it noisy? Will they have to share a room? What about their hobbies or interests – how will they be able to maintain them? If they have pets, can they be accommodated also?
Visiting will be tremendously important as not only will you want to call in frequently but your relative is bound to look forward to visits from everyone. With this in mind, make sure that the location is easily accessible by all who will want to see them and that visiting hours are suitable to fit in with your working arrangements or transport accessibility.
Placing your loved one in a care home need not be too upsetting or stressful if you follow these careful guidelines. By leading with your head and not your heart, you should be able to identify a true home-from-home where they will settle in nicely and be happy, content and well looked after.
For more information and advice, follow this link to Age UK.
If you would like to read our earlier article regarding a study into the NHS working together with Care Homes, click on this link.
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