All our lives we have been looked after by our parents or older relatives but there will come a time when the tables will be turned. They may wish to continue living an independent live in their own homes but as their day-to-day chores become harder to carry out what should they do? It may be time for them to move into a care home, but how do you make sure you have chosen the right care home for your loved one’s needs.
We seem to hear shocking stories in the news regarding care homes, with families discovering their loved ones are being neglected – and sometimes even abused – and with budget cuts and low staff levels the standard of care we expect may not always be met. Fortunately the Care Quality Commission (CQC) are required to regulate the industry and carry out regular inspections of care homes, and their reports are a good indication as to whether a care home is working well or not. However, the CQC openly admits it cannot always manage to maintain their inspection schedules.
So what should you be doing if you need to find a residential care home?
Look at the options
Many elderly men and women value their independence and may see moving to a care home as a sign of them being “past it” or you may find the subject matter to difficult to discuss. Whatever situation you are in you should always discuss your relative’s care options with them and take on board their feelings and concerns.
A good place to start is by contacting your local social services who can arrange a free care and support assessment. One of their trained members of staff will visit you and your relative and look at the level of care and facilities required and be able to explain the different options you have. A residential care home may not be your only option.
There are several cost-effective ways your relative may be able to stay in their own home, allowing them to remain independent whilst having their needs taken care of.
If your relative is quite independent but has trouble with small – but important – things such as washing and dressing, getting in and out of bed or making meals they may be better suited to daily or live-in carers. You can arrange to have carers come to your relative’s home as often or as little as required with the flexibility to increase their visits if and when the need arises.
As we grow older in our homes we can feel they are turning against us. Not being able to go upstairs or into the garden is something many elderly people get frustrated about yet there are simple solutions. By installing a stair lift, handrails or ramps you can easily remove some of the everyday obstacles. Place higher seats on the toilets, a seat in the shower or install a walk-in bath. There are also agencies that provide monitors to be worn so if there is a problem you can call somebody to help straight away.
If your relative is ready to move but not quite ready for a care home, sheltered accommodation provides a mid-way solution. With support staff regularly on duty and emergency help on hand 24 hours a day, your relative can still live independently – but in a safer environment. Many sheltered housing have communal areas so residents can meet up, as well as organise social events and outings.
If you have looked at all the options and you still feel your relative should move to a care home there are several different options for you, depending on your relative’s needs.
A residential care home provides all the care your relative requires, whether that is helping with personal hygiene, taking medication, helping with getting washed and dressed, and assisting your relative with their bedtime routine. Some care homes also have communal areas, beauty rooms/hair dressers and sometimes arrange outings or events.
If your relative requires a higher level of medical care they may need to move into a nursing care home. Whilst these care homes offer the same services as a residential care home, they will also look after your relative’s medical care.
Another option is a dual-registered care home who provide assistance for residents who need only personal care or require nursing care. This is an option worth considering if your relative has any conditions that may need further care at a later date, meaning they would not have to be moved again.
Finally there are dementia care homes. These homes are specifically designed to create an environment that will make any resident suffering from dementia feel safe.
The cost of a care home differs with some residents being entitled to assistance with their fees. The council will carry out a financial assessment – for free – to look at your relative’s assets and savings. This will help them assess whether the care needs to be paid for by the council, have a contribution towards the costs or if the care will be self-funded by your relative. However, there is a cap on the amount the council will contribute and even if you are entitled to free care there may be a charge if you opt for a more expensive home.
Choosing the Care Home
When it comes to actually choosing a care home you should make a shortlist of those that fit your budget and provide the required level of care. You can read care home websites and brochures to see what facilities are offered. But the only way to really get a real feel for a place is to visit and talk to the management and staff. If possible, get recommendations from people who have experience of the home.
Choosing the right care home
We all want our relatives to be happy and looked after and so choosing the right care home can, and often is, a stressful situation for everyone involved. Make a checklist of both your relative’s requirements and your own. Take into consideration the level of care offered, the accommodation and grounds, the location and distance from family and your budget. There are 107 care homes listed on the CQC website around Swindon with 73 of those good and 8 outstanding.
Visit several care homes. Looking at brochures or websites can offer a lot of information but walking around a care home, talking to other residents, the staff and manager can help you get the right feel about whether you want to move your relative there or not. Where possible, find independent recommendations and reviews of the care homes on your list.
If things go wrong
Although most care homes provide high standards of care and choosing the right home for your relative will see them safe and happy, sometimes things can go wrong. If your relative has suffered from an injury or appears to be suffering from neglect you may feel you need to talk to a specialist care home legal expert – such as Accidentclaims.co.uk – who can give you further guidance.