How to Choose The Right Care Home for Your Loved One

 In Blog, Moving into Care

There comes a time when you might realise that a loved one can no longer live safely or happily at home, even with your help.  Deciding to look for a care home is never easy.  You want to find the best possible place, somewhere your loved one can get the expert care they need while still feeling comfortable and respected.

This article will help you work out what kind of care is right and how to find a care home that’s a perfect fit. We’ll start with a quick checklist of key takeaways, but don’t worry, we’ll go over each part in more detail below.

Key Steps Checklist

StepDescription
1. Start your care home searchBegin looking into care homes in your area.
2. Figure out your loved one’s needsWhat kind of help do they need daily? What are their medical needs?
3. Think about what matters mostWhat kind of personality does the home need to have to suit your loved one? Is location important?
4. Research care homesRead websites, reviews, and those all-important inspection reports.
5. Get in touch with a few homesPhone or email the ones that sound like they might be a good fit.
6. Visit homes in personMore than once if possible, to get a true feel for the place.
7. Consider the extra thingsThink about activities, meals, and whether it’s the right kind of environment.
8. Sort out the legal and financial sideLook into things like Power of Attorney, and how care will be paid for.
9. Involve your loved one as much as possibleRespect their wishes and include them in the process.
10. Choose the care homeMake the decision on where you think your loved one will be the happiest and safest.
11. Plan to visit after they move inCheck everything is as expected and your loved one is settling in well.
12. Keep in touch with the care homeGood communication ensures you are both working together to give your loved one the best care.

What Kind of Care Does Your Loved One Need?

The first thing to think about is the level of care your loved one needs.  Here are some of the main types:

  • Residential Care: For people who need some help with daily tasks like bathing, dressing, and managing medicines, but are otherwise fairly independent.
  • Nursing Care: Provides round-the-clock medical care and support for those with complex health needs or disabilities.
  • Dementia Care: Designed specifically for people with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. It focuses on maintaining safety, reducing confusion, and providing activities that match their abilities.
  • Respite Care: Short-term stays in a care home, giving regular carers a break or offering support after a hospital stay.

Knowing What to Ask

Once you have a general idea of the type of care, think about these questions:

  • Medical Needs: Does your loved one have any illnesses or conditions that need special care? What medications do they take?
  • Everyday Help: What tasks are getting difficult? Bathing, dressing, making meals, getting around?
  • Memory and Thinking: Are they getting forgetful, confused, or having trouble making decisions?
  • Mood and Wellbeing: Do they feel lonely, anxious, or like they want to be around other people more?

Don’t worry about knowing all the answers right away. But the more information you have, the easier it will be to find care homes that are a good match.

Doing Your Homework

Once you have a clearer picture of the type of care needed, it’s time to dig in and gather information about specific care homes.  The best place to start is with the Care Quality Commission (CQC).  Every care home in England is regularly inspected, and the reports are available online. These tell you loads about how the home measures up: the quality of care given, whether the staff is well-trained, how safe the environment is, and more. Be sure to check out the CQC website or ask potential care homes for a copy of their latest report.

Care homes usually have their own websites too. These can be a great source of information about the services provided, the daily routine, and the feel of the place through photos and descriptions. However, keep in mind that they’re like adverts – always showing the home in its best light!  Look for other sources of information like online reviews and testimonials from residents and families. These can give you a more honest glimpse into what life is really like at the care home.

Don’t hesitate to contact the care homes directly with your questions. Calling or emailing them shows you’re serious, and a good care home will be happy to answer anything you want to know.

Seeing for Yourself

Websites and reports are valuable, but nothing beats visiting the care homes in person. You get a sense of the place that no amount of online research can provide. If possible, schedule more than one visit at different times of day for a well-rounded view.

As you walk around, focus on the atmosphere. Do the residents seem content and engaged?  Are the staff interacting with them in a friendly, respectful way?  Pay attention to things like cleanliness, safety measures, and the overall feel of the space. If you visit during mealtime, take a look at the food – does it look appetizing and are residents getting the help they need to eat?

Try to talk with some of the residents and their families.  Ask how long they’ve been there, if they like it, and whether they find the staff helpful. Their insights will be invaluable.

Key Points to Consider:

  • CQC reports are a must-read.
  • Reviews and testimonials offer real-world perspectives.
  • Don’t be afraid to contact the care home directly.
  • First-hand visits give you an overall feel of the place.
  • Pay attention to how staff interact with residents.

Beyond the Basics

You’ve considered the level of care needed, done your research, and visited a few care homes. Now it’s time to think about some factors that can make a big difference to your loved one’s quality of life:

  • Location: Being close to family can mean frequent visits and a continued sense of connection. Make sure the care home is somewhere you’ll be able to get to easily. Is it on a good bus route if you don’t drive? Consider how this might affect other family members who might visit too.
  • Specialisation: Some care homes have a particular focus, like advanced dementia care or supporting people with complex medical conditions. If your loved one has specific needs, finding a home that truly understands them can be invaluable.
  • Person-Centred Approach: Every person is different, even with the same diagnosis. Does the care home seem to genuinely focus on the individual? Do they have ways to tailor activities and routines to what residents enjoy? Ask if your loved one’s likes, dislikes, and habits would be taken into consideration in their care plan.
  • Financial Transparency: Sadly, the cost of care is a major concern. Make sure you fully understand what’s included in the fees and if there could be additional charges down the line. Getting everything in writing avoids any unpleasant surprises later.

Practical Considerations

While care homes focus on day-to-day care, there are important legal and financial aspects to consider alongside the emotional side of things.

  • Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA): This legal document allows you to choose who makes decisions for your loved one if they become unable to do so themselves. There are two types, one for health and welfare, the other for property and finances. It’s best to set these up while your loved one still has the capacity to do so.
  • Care Home Funding: This is complex, with options including self-funding, local authority support, and NHS continuing healthcare. Don’t struggle alone to understand all your options. Organisations like Age UK and the Alzheimer’s Society have helpful information and advisors.

Where possible, some care homes offer trial stays for a week or two. This can be a good way to see how your loved one settles in and if the care home you’ve chosen truly meets their needs.

Resident Involvement

To the greatest extent possible, involve your loved one in the decision-making process. Even if their cognitive abilities are limited, consider their preferences for things like location, the feel of the home, and the types of activities offered.  Empowering them to have some choice can ease the transition and make them feel respected and valued during this big life change.

Key Points

  • Emotional reactions to choosing a care home are normal. Seek support if needed.
  • Prioritising your own well-being is essential for both you and your loved one.
  • Investigate Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) for peace of mind.
  • Seek advice from organisations like Age UK on funding options.
  • Consider a trial stay if the care home offers this.
  • Include your loved one in the process as much as possible.

Beyond the Initial Visit

The first few weeks in a care home are a huge adjustment for everyone involved.  It’s wise to schedule a follow-up visit after your loved one has had a chance to settle in.  This way, you can get a clearer sense of whether your first impressions hold true. Do they seem comfortable and content?  Is the staff genuinely attentive to their needs?  Are they making friends and engaging in activities?

Maintaining open communication with the care home is absolutely essential, especially as the initial adjustment period passes. Your loved one’s needs may change, you might have questions about specific care practices, or you might want to offer feedback to help them feel even more at home.  Don’t hesitate to reach out to the care home manager or your loved one’s main carer whenever you have concerns or questions.  A good care home values this partnership with families.

Key Points

  • Schedule a follow-up visit after the initial settling-in period.
  • Reassess if the care home is still the right fit.
  • Open communication with staff builds trust and ensures the resident’s needs are met.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions, raise concerns, or offer feedback.

Useful Contact Details

General Advice and Support:

  • Age UK: Their Advice Line offers information and guidance on a wide range of issues affecting older people and their families.
    • Telephone: 0800 678 1602
    • Website: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/
  • The Alzheimer’s Society: Provides specialist advice if dementia is a factor in the choice of care home. Offers support groups and a helpline for families.
    • Telephone: 0333 150 3456
    • Website: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/
  • Carers UK: Supports unpaid carers with advice, resources, and practical assistance. They can help you manage your own wellbeing during this process.
    • Telephone: 0808 808 7777
    • Website:https://www.carersuk.org/

Specific Needs:

  • Independent Age: Offers guidance and support on care home decisions, especially with complex needs or limited funding.
    • Telephone: 0800 319 6789
    • Website: https://www.independentage.org/
  • Parkinson’s UK: Specialist support for people with Parkinson’s and their families, including information on finding care.
    • Telephone: 0808 800 0303
    • Website: https://www.parkinsons.org.uk/

Financial and Legal Matters:

  • Citizens Advice: Provides general advice on welfare benefits, paying for care, and related legal concerns.
    • Locate your nearest Citizens Advice centre:
  • The Society of Later Life Advisers (SOLLA): This organisation helps you find qualified financial advisers specialising in elderly care funding.

Remember: It’s perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed. Reach out to these organisations; they exist to help you!

Finding Peace of Mind: How to Choose the Best Care Home for Your Loved One

Choosing a care home is one of the hardest decisions you might ever make for a loved one.  By being prepared, doing thorough research, and truly seeing the places for yourself, you increase your chances of finding somewhere they can thrive.  

Remember, even the best care home is a big change.  Take time to prepare your loved one, involve them in the process as much as possible, and make sure the staff know how to help them feel at ease during the transition.

At Lidder Care, we are committed to providing specialised care, be it dementia care, respite care, residential care, or nursing care, in a compassionate and nurturing environment. Your loved one’s happiness and quality of life are our top priorities.

We have two care homes based in Mansfield, Newgate Lodge, which specialises in residential and dementia care, and Lowmoor Nursing Home, which is our specialist home for those requiring more advanced care.

Learn more about our two care homes at https://liddercare.com/ and to book a viewing at either of our care homes, fill in your details on our contact form.