Where to Start
Firstly, make yourself comfortable and begin to think about these questions.
It’s important to take your own needs and expectations into account, what do you think a care home should be? What services does the home need to provide? Dementia care? Nursing? Residential? Respite care? How far away would you be willing to travel to the home? What area would you like the home to be in? How will the care be funded? If you are searching for someone other than yourself, ask them these questions too.
Once you have taken these questions into account, the next step is to find the homes.Please see below a list of helpful organisations that give advice and information about selecting the right care.
The best way to do this is to search online; simply search for care homes in your desired locations. There are many sites that can give you more information and ratings of the homes.
Other factors in choosing a care home can be care home recommendations, the homes’ locations and news. Once you have picked the homes you particularly like, enquire directly with the home, book a visit and request a brochure.
CQC (Care Quality Commission)
This is the authoritative professional body responsible for ensuring homes are managed to the highest standard and they have the power to close or cap non-compliant homes.
↖ Find more
Which? Elderly Care
Which? Elderly Care gives free, independent and practical advice about caring for older people across the UK. This includes dealing with common concerns, options for housing and residential care and how these can be financed.
↖ Find more
NHS Choices provide a comprehensive health information service that puts you in control of your health care, and its website helps you to make choices about health – from decisions about lifestyle, such as smoking, drinking and exercise, to finding and using NHS services in England.
↖ Find more
Age Concern and Help the Aged have combined to become Age UK, which provides information and advice to older people and their relatives.
↖ Find more
The Gov.uk website is the best place to find government services and information.
↖ Find more
This society works to improve the quality of life of people affected by a dementia in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. They use the personal experiences of health professionals and people with a dementia themselves to help guide their work.
↖ Find more
Rethink Mental Illness
Rethink Mental Illness offers advice, information and support to people affected by mental illness and their families, carers and friends.
↖ Find more
Tip: visit as many different homes as possible and pick a time that is likely to present the home authentically, such as lunchtime; this will give you a chance to witness the home at its busiest. Also always request a brochure, as this can be kept as a reminder and something to refer back to during your search.
Regardless of what you may have read in
the media, there are many good and well- managed homes out there; however, it is still very important to gather plenty of resourceful information and use your own intuition to pick out the best homes.
Ask the local GP what homes they would recommend; it is always in their best interest to refer the best homes in the area for their patients. Alternatively choose to read the CQC reports on the home from the CQC website.
Did you know there is no minimum training requirement to work as a support worker? A good home will always invest in training the staff regularly to ensure they are skilled and equipped with the knowledge to provide a high standard of care. A recognised caring qualification to look for is the NVQ Level
2, which equips staff with the correct skills required. Another way to monitor the quality of staff is to find out where they are trained.
Have you ever met someone and instantly warmed to them, or in some cases found yourself not so keen on a person? Use this intuition to get a feel for the home and the staff. Try to imagine what it would be like living there. Does it feel homely? Do you feel relaxed and welcomed? Are the staff friendly? Or more importantly, are they approachable enough
to form a trusting relationship? Use your eyes to see for yourself how the staff handle and communicate with the residents - are
the residents comfortable and relaxed? Look also at the things inside the home, are there homely attributes or is it cold and boring? The look and feel of a home can give many clues as to how the home is managed.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when visiting a home:
- Is the home clean and homely with decorative touches?
- Are there open visiting hours?
- Can visitors stay overnight?
- Is there an ensuite? (If this an important factor.)
- Are the care staff passionately working or standing around chatting?
- Are the meals a social occasion?
- What activities does the home have?
- Can I bring my own furniture?
- Do the staff in the home interact with the residents?
- Do the residents look happy and content?
Person-centred Care is the term used in the care industry to assess the individual’s personal needs and interests. The staff need to get to know the person as an individual. The staff understand that everyone is unique and will enjoy things that are perhaps different to others. As well as medical needs, you may
find that some homes ask about the history of the resident, such as what their working and family life was like, what hobbies they enjoy and what they prefer to do for entertainment. This is an effective way for the staff to really get to know the resident’s personality and
to be able to create a lifestyle within the
home suited to that person. It enables the carer to quickly and effectively form an understanding and connection with them,
but most importantly helps the resident feel comfortable, understood and at home.
Top Ten Tips
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) registers all care homes and CQS is the regulatory body for care homes. You can
find all the relevant information regarding any care home provider by visiting www.cqc.org.uk
Make sure a care home is safe,caring, effective, responsive to people’s needs and well-led before you make the decision.
Look for care homes where the staff involve people who use services and their families and carers, and treat individuals with compassion, kindness, dignity and respect.
Find out whether the staff looking after you or your loved one are adequately skilled, kind and supportive. The home manager and staff should also be capable and confident in dealing with residents’ particular needs. You should always feel that their support is helping the residents to live the life they want to.
“Residents should be treated as individuals with their likes and dislikes taken into account.“
Think about whether the care home is close enough to family, friends, and community facilities.
Look for home’s features and facilities and how well-led and managed the home is.
Imagine the life within the home and look whether it promote meaningful activities and connect the home with the community.
Check for the CQC rating for the home, reviews and residents’ and families’ opinion on the home.
Speak to social workers, GP or consult an independent financial advisor for help with financing for care
Types of care Homes
There are two main types of care homes – residential and nursing homes.
- Accommodation for people that require some level of personal care
- Range in size from very small homes with few beds to large-scale facilities
- Offer care and support throughout the day and night
- Medical needs are supported by nurses and GP’s
This type of home will normally offer the same type of care as residential ones but with the addition of:
- 24-hour care from a qualified nurse
- Treatment of disease, disorder or injury
Additional services that could be provided at residential or nursing homes:
Most care homes provide respite services (short term care) subject to availability.
It’s important for the home to adopt a lifestyle suited to the needs of a resident with a dementia. One of dementia’s effects is that logical thinking slowly deteriorates, which means the resident must rely heavily on feelings and emotions. Bear this in mind when you walk into a home; if you don’t feel at ease then someone with a dementia is unlikely to feel at home there. Individuals with a dementia tend to like to touch and feel things, and if
a home is aware of this there will be objects of interest hanging on the walls or placed in the rooms. Having these items placed around the home sparks conversation and sometimes memories for the residents, and is also an effective calming tool.
Dementia symptoms can include:
- Memory loss
- Personality changes
- Loss of ability to carry out routine tasks
- Mood swings
Alzheimer’s disease is regarded as the most common cause of dementia, but other types include frontal temporal dementia, vascular dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies.
Typical symptoms of dementia can include:
- Regularly forgetting recent events, names and faces
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
- Confusion with time or place
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
- Disorientation, especially when away from normal surroundings
- Problems finding the right words
- Mood or behaviour changes
Dementia is not the only cause of memory loss. Many people have trouble with memory
– this does not necessarily mean they have Dementia. There are many different causes of memory loss. If you or a relative is experiencing symptoms of a dementia, it is best to visit a doctor so the cause can be determined.
We advise seeing a GP if you, your family or friends are worried about changes in memory, personality or the lack of ability to carry out routine daily tasks.
End of life care aims to treat or manage pain and other symptoms. It will also help with any psychological, social or spiritual needs that they may have.
End of life care aims to help people in the last stages of their life and to preserve dignity and sensitivity throughout.
Providing support for people to enable them to improve their mental health and wellbeing and to live a fulfilled and meaningful life.
The aim of such care services will be to support people and to prevent them from needing to be re-admitted to hospital for treatment of their mental health problems.
Making a Decision
Making a decision about care homes is hard and can be a lengthy process. Being prepared by gathering as much information about
the homes, and most importantly, visiting a number of different types of homes, can help build confidence in making a decision.
Record the experience you had with each of the homes and revisit your preferred choices, perhaps taking another person for a second opinion. This also gives another chance to ask any forgotten questions and to visit at a different time of the day/night
Advice on funding can be given by Age UK and Alzheimer’s Society.
The home manager should give you all the information you need before moving into the home and outline any restrictions in what you can bring to the home beforehand, such as pets and certain furnishings, although many homes can accommodate these.
Things to think about
It’s recommended to label all your clothes before moving in
It’s important to list the people you would like to stay in contact with regularly, and pass this list to the home manager who should help you achieve this
Check if you can bring personal items of furniture to the home
Redirect your post and of course, let your friends and family know your new address
Do you need insurance for personal belongings
Help for relatives after the move
It can take a little while to get used to having a loved one live in a care home; some can find it a little upsetting, especially if they have cared for that person for a length of time.
Good homes welcome relatives to come to the home whenever they wish to visit, and some relatives like to continue helping with care duties or even stay overnight.
Good care homes normally work with you, give you support and aim to make the experience with the home as pleasurable as possible. They hold regular relative meetings in the homes to discuss matters people want to put forward or ways in which services can be improved. It’s also a lovely way to meet other relatives in the same situation.
Paying for care
We recommend the PayingForCare website www.payingforcare.org for all our clients and relatives.
PayingForCare has been designed to help individuals make more informed decisions about the arrangements and funding for long-term care. The site is equally useful for powers of attorney, family members and friends.
We highly advise that clients and relatives speak to an independent financial adviser, who will be able to advise you on the best options.