Naturally, we all want to stay in our own homes, but sometimes that is no longer possible and a care home may be the only solution. Yet, how do we find the best care home for our older relatives? What do we need to consider when making such a choice?
When emotions are running high and stress levels are sky-rocketing, it helps to have a checklist of questions to ask yourself. To help you get started, here are the top 10 tips for choosing a good care home for your loved ones.
Never rely solely on this, but it's a good place to start. The CQC check that all care homes in the UK meet set standards. You can find out more about the CQC and what they do here.
How did the home answer your initial enquiry? Were they friendly on the phone? Did they ask you questions about your loved one and seem genuinely interested?
Did the staff smile at you and your older relative, if they were with you? Did they appear friendly and kind? Did they take the time to explain the facilities, show you the rooms and talk about the daily nutrition for residents?
How does the home smell? Can you smell urine? Can you smell stale food? Can you smell too much air freshener intended to mask unwanted smells?
If you feel that their attitude is "I can’t be bothered" or "It's too much trouble," then alarm bells should start ringing.
Check outside by the entrance for cigarette butts. If staff leave them around, it doesn't create a very good first impression and may be indicative of their general care standards.
Does the home pass the activities test? What activities and excursions does the home arrange and how often? Are they the sorts of things your older relative might like?
Can the residents bring furniture, important belongings and even pets? Does the home have ensuite bathrooms, if that's a requirement, to ensure privacy and comfort?
Is the home flexible about when you can visit? Are you allowed to visit at mealtimes, so you can see if people are eating and being helped to eat? Will they let you chat to the current residents during visiting hours? If not, you should be concerned.
Does the home invite feedback and run committees for both residents and relatives? If the staff are cagey about this, beware!
Deborah Stone is co-founder of myageingparent.com, a website offering information, advice, products and services for families caring for older relatives and for older people themselves.