It is the decision that many of us hope we will never have to make, but for others, they are already having to choose a care home for their loved ones.
There are some that think coming to that decision is hardest of all, and perhaps they are right, but where you place your loved one is equally as important, as they could end up spending the rest of their lives there, and if they are not happy, not only will you feel guilty, but their quality of life will diminish also.
So how do you go about choosing the right care home for your loved one? First you have to decide which type will be the correct placement; do you require a permanent home for an elderly relative?
Does your loved one suffer from dementia and require specialised treatment? Or are we thinking about end of life care where a hospice might be suitable? It is important that you consider in detail the many options for residential care before you come to a decision.
A good place to start, if you are not sure what type of residential care your loved one is going to need, is to contact Social Services, who can do an assessment for you and advise you accordingly.
Now that you know which type of home you need, what should you be looking out for? Here is our list of what we consider to be good and bad points, when choosing a care home.
Where is the care home located? It should, if possible, be local to where the loved one lived, or to where the majority of their family are living, but ask the person their preference. What about facilities in the surrounding areas? Are there shops, cinemas or leisure activities, or would this prove to be too noisy for your relative? Find out what they prefer.
Is your loved one religious and if so, will the care home meet their specific religious, ethnic or cultural needs? This could include specific diet requirements, will their language be spoken and can they join in religious activities?
Can visitors come and go when they please or does the home have specific time frames? Will the staff assist in helping residents to go out? Are outings arranged?
Can you get involved in the care home? For instance, if you have particular safety and security worries for the relative, can you help put in arrangements for them?
Visiting the care home
See if the majority of the staff have been there for a long time. Do they know the existing residents well, are they friendly, supportive and respectful.
Do they maximise the residents Independence, by helping them keep up contact with the outside world, or sustaining their interest within the home by keeping them active?
What is the food like? Would you happily eat it? Is there a choice of tasty and nutritious food?
What is the overall environment like? Is it clean and what does it smell like? Do the residents seem to be happy and engaged with each other? Is their privacy respected?
Watch to see if the following happens at all; do carers enter residents rooms without knocking, do they talk about other residents within earshot of other people?
Are the carers leaving residents alone most of the time, in front of TV’s or in their rooms?
Does the building seem to be poorly maintained without any personal effects? Is it a clean environment or does it smell?
Are residents left to eat alone, without any help, or if they can’t eat properly, is the food taken away from them before they have a chance to finish it?
Are any of the staff snappy or irritated with the residents? Do they bad mouth them to you or the other members of staff?
Finally, although these set of guidelines are not foolproof, they can go some way to ensure that if you do face the decision to put a loved one into a care home, you can make the best possible choice, to ensure they get the highest standard of care.