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Care & carers

People's impression of a Care Home

(27 Posts)
Hellen Wed 07-Mar-12 18:05:37

I have been managing care homes for the past 8 years and have worked with older people for over 25 years. I love my work and the reason I became a manager was because way back when I started my jourrney with older people I could often see they were not treated well. I wanted to make a difference and the only way to do so was to become a role model and leader to others.

I have recntly found my dream job. It is local, it is with older people in a beautifully appointed home and I can honestly say the care is .......not perfect but the kindest and most readily given help I have ever seen.

I would be really interested in knowing why then do I find it difficult to fill the home with residents. I have about 7 empty rooms!! Any suggestions welcome.

Anne58 Wed 07-Mar-12 18:11:44

You could consider a small mystery shopping programme to get some feedback? Or contact those that have been for a look round and then not booked a place?

JessM Wed 07-Mar-12 18:16:31

Does it smell nice when people come through the door?
A background odour can put people off without them even realising it. You will be used to how it smells. Get a couple of people who don't work there to pop in and tell you, honestly.
Also - marketing? All businesses have to do it.

Anne58 Wed 07-Mar-12 18:20:59

Hold an open morning, just coffee & biscuits sort of thing, then ask people to complete an anonymous questionnaire when they leave.

JessM Wed 07-Mar-12 18:46:34

Your local U3A might help you to publicise this to their members.

Butternut Wed 07-Mar-12 19:13:31

When I was sourcing a suitable Nursing Home for my mum, I never made an appointment. I just waltzed in and wandered around until I was 'sussed'. My first impressions counted; whether it was smelly (or not), clean, layout, comfort and light levels, and how the residents responded. I was once found out having a jolly good chat with a some - and rightly challenged. I also took a look in the toilets. Cost of course is an important issue.
I think both pheonix's & Jess's comments would be a good step forward.
Are your staffing levels minimal or generous?
Beautifully appointed is not the be all and end all - a bit scruffy around the corners won't matter if there is a feeling of 'home' about it.
Not smelly and a feeling of a comfortable home was what did it for me. No, not perfect, it never will be, but the ambience mattered.

Best of luck, and as you clearly know - good nursing homes are hard to find.

nanachrissy Wed 07-Mar-12 19:29:11

I think a lot of old people have the wrong idea of a care home because when they were younger, care homes were not so good.
Having just moved my dad into one about 4 weeks ago,my priorities were;
a) closeness to my home
b) did they accept council funding
c) attitude of the staff
d) cleanliness
e) decor and general atmosphere.

I've gone out of my way to chat to as many of the staff as possible and to remember their names, and I'm very happy with the way they are caring for my dad.

I think this home has some empty rooms and I can only assume that the cost is the reason for this.

Hope this has helped Hellen

jeni Wed 07-Mar-12 19:51:03

I used to visit a lot of care homes when I did visits for AA.
The first thing that struck me would be the smell
The second, what were the residents doing? Were they sitting in a circle staring blankly at a tv which was blaring away?
The third,did they all look clean and tidy and loved?
Lastly, what were the staff doing?

NanaChuckles Wed 07-Mar-12 21:31:44

Just like Butternut I never made an appointment when I was looking for a care home for my late father. Dad had Alzheimers and I was very lucky that the type he had was what I called Sleepy Alzheimers. He was happy to watch TV most of the day, the same program over and over. Then he wanted to sleep most of the afternoon till I came in from school and we would go out grocery shopping or out to dinner. The home I chose was full, I had to wait for a place to become available. It was lovely decorated but you could see that some places were in need of a lick of paint. eg the livingrooms where residents would mix during the day. When I place became available I had to go for an interview with Dad and we spent a few hours looking round the place and filling out a questionnaire about my fathers life and what he liked to do to pas the time. On the wall in the living area was a time table of activities and outings. This was so varied and full of visiting specialists like art people, reading groups, shopping outings, day trips, afternoon theatre visits and the one I really liked "All our yesterdays" where people came in to the care home from the areas where certain people had been brought up and they had photographs of these areas from the past. There were lots of other activities too. They also had a variety of living rooms where residents could go in small groups and chat or play dominoes, cards, chess etc. This care home was so nice that my daughter and I spent lots of time there visiting not just my father but other residents before taking dad home with us to spend some time at home. eg a weekend. The fact that Dad liked it and sometimes wanted to go home early says it all.

Hellen Wed 07-Mar-12 21:35:46

I can honestly say that the home does not smell. The owner is very realaistic about hygiene and we have a regular schedule of professional carpet cleaning as well as replacement carpets after each room is vacant.

I think our fees may be restrictive for some people however, I like to look at the fee as an hourly rate and not a weekly fee.

So for about £4.76 per hour we really offer a very high standard of care and also 5 star hospitality.

wotsamashedupjingl Wed 07-Mar-12 21:40:18

There is a programme on bbc 2 at the moment about a couple moving granny in with them. Apparently this is happening more often now because people are too hard up to afford a care home.

Hellen Wed 07-Mar-12 21:45:23

Thank you for all the comments on this subject, I have just read through them all.

I am happy to say that in terms of the current residents living in the home they all report back very positive feedback about living here.

I have worked for some larger organisations and I have always felt unable to really give residents what they want.

This home is family owned and has a very friendly and stimualting atmosphere but also a high regard for privacy and independance where residents prefer.

I feel able to put in place any feedback that I am given, for example if a resident says they fancy Mackerel for supper, I tell the chef and within a couple of days it is on the menu. We do not have to have a set 4 week menu that is rigid and so making things happen especially around dining is an absolute priority for us. It is such an important part of the day and healthy nutritious and delicious food equals a healthier happier person.

Can anybody suggest other actions that would be considered "going the extra mile" to help us stand out form our competitors?

Hellen Wed 07-Mar-12 21:50:17

Thank you, I have just tuned in. I think that in the current climate this situation will happen more and more. Families pooling their capital and moving in together. The return of the extended family.

glammanana Wed 07-Mar-12 22:30:06

Hellen This is just a little note from my house selling day's (I worked for one of the largest retirement developers) but have you looked at the Kerb Appeal of your building,are the flower borders full and tidy are the blinds/nets spotless are the outside window's clean is paintwork up to scratch,all these things add to marketability of a building and may be worth looking at on a regular basis. Good luck getting new residents.

Butternut Thu 08-Mar-12 08:38:07

Being able to sit outside, in the sunshine and fresh air in a garden was something my mum wanted. Do you have private garden space for the residents?

Mishap Thu 08-Mar-12 09:24:57

The best home that I ever visited as a SW was extremely scruffy - but it was homely. One man with dementia was a keen gardener and used to dig up the plants and move them around every day - no-one tried to stop him as he was happy. One day someone said it was years since they had had fish and chips in newspaper, so they stuck the planned lunch back in the fridge and the whole home decamped to the chippy in the minibus - I arrived to a happy roomful of demented people with newspapers on their laps tucking in merrily! - and so was the dog!
The inspectorate used to have forty fits - but I knew that people were happy.
Needless to say they closed it down - grrr!

susiecb Thu 08-Mar-12 09:25:00

Hellen I managed and inspected Nursing and Care Homes for many years and filling rooms is never easy but changes are needed. I think that we need to examine the model of elderly care- as its isn't one that is sustainable either in economic terms or in terms of need and preference. We changed several of our homes into supported housing units to give the residents more independance. There are any number of consultancies offering help to do this but of course it costs but a long term strategy is needed for all care homes. I would think of the future clients will want more independance with support on tap when they ask for it, access to good technology, private space where relationships can flourish in all their forms, garaging for cars and vehicles, transport links etc etc. needs a good long term business strategy.

goldengirl Thu 08-Mar-12 12:28:32

What is 'homely'? When I was looking on behalf of my parents I saw all sorts and the best for me were the ones that looked like a home - ornaments, a canary, and even a cat, comfortable seating, homemade cakes, personal possessions and furniture welcomed [limited obviously], outside space to wander or dig, a variety of activities etc etc. The ones I liked least were hotel look alikes - chandeliers, every room looking more or less the same, the same type of chairs in the lounge, in fact boring but perhaps OK if you like minimalism. Bathrooms are very important both in facilities offered and hygiene. Parking for visitors is also another factor. Freedom to live their lives as they would wish as much as possible. To me the atmosphere of the place says it all. And yes I found one in the end!

nanachrissy Thu 08-Mar-12 12:58:40

The home my dad is in has a budgie and the manageress's little dog runs around some days. They have church services and entertainments and seem to be open to any suggestions.

Main thing is that the staff are very,very helpful and friendly and seem to really like the residents.

Hellen Thu 08-Mar-12 21:57:41

Thank you to everybody who is joining this discussion. All the things are very useful and it is great to get a variety of opinions and experiences.

I will continue to improve the way we provide our care and actively respond to all the feedaabck I get.

Thank you - I will keep reading with interest. :-0

lilybet Thu 26-Jul-12 07:51:20

Homes owned by indivuals or very small groups are the best. They are now in very short supply.If you are lucky enough to have a care home owned by a couple go for it. Large homes owned by company's are all about profit first.They fill their beds with very poorly people who die shortly after arriving in the home.This is so distressing for the care team,residents and families visiting. I know this because I visit one every day.I am about to move my Mother away from this money making machine and into caring home owned by a family.

FlicketyB Thu 26-Jul-12 12:54:52

What is your standing with Social Services? They often influence people's decisions even when the potential resident is self funding.

When I was looking for a care home for my aunt and uncle that needed to be accessible to both myself and my cousin, we live 100 miles apart I used the website and listings produced by what was then known as the 'Elderly Persons Accommodation Council'. I think it has changed its name since. Are you listed on online sites?

What is your brochure like? Does your Home have its own website with a link to the assessment reports undertaken by the Care Standards organisation?

A few ideas

moving Fri 27-Jul-12 03:02:36

Good lucky for you.

RMC Fri 31-Aug-12 11:27:16

We have a new website where providers of care homes and home care services can promote their services free. The site is a social enterprise funded by the RSA for people looking for care services and for residents and their relatives to comment on their care.

Pumpkin Sat 20-Oct-12 08:32:24

When both my mother and I agreed together that it was time for her to go into a Care Home we both went and viewed 3 in her area. and as luck would have it, we both came up with same one, She loves it, goes to the ballet, last week they had a outing to see a performance from a local male voice choir, trips out in summer, and a meal at a local pub once a month, nail painting, feet care, old movies, bingo, making cookies, and she does ALL this at 95, I an blessed that she is happy and still mobile, the home has given her a second life. On the down side you do hear tales of some awful places where old folk are given tablets to make them sleepy so the staff dont have to do as much activity, but when you go into that vocation then you have to be a special kind of person who really enjoys the company of the older generation, if you sit and listen to there chatter, they tell some really wonderful stories about the old days, and and can make you laugh, they are very wise , maybe a little slower in the way they do things, but give them time and they get there in the end, so to all those people who enjoy and work in the GOOD care homes thank you, for giving there loved ones peace of mind