22 Nov How do I find the right care home?
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Probably one of the most difficult decisions families face. Your loved one may have had a fall and can’t look after themselves as well as they could, maybe they have been showing signs of dementia, or needing end of life care?
What goes through your mind? What kind of home should I choose? Will they be safe there? Will someone look after them as well as you would?
All these questions often at a time when families are trying to understand a complex care system and make the best decision they can.
So below is our guide to help you navigate this complex area.
- Give yourself time. If possible, consider care homes in the area ahead of the time when you actually need to find care. There is nothing worse than being under time pressure to find a place which is right for you.
- Every care home is different Care homes come in all shapes and sizes. Small, large, family run, part of a chain, in town, out of town, modern, historic, etc etc. You need to look at a variety to begin to understand what you are looking for, what suits the needs of your loved one and you as a family.
- Draw up a shortlist Look up the homes in your local area. The government regulator of care is the Care Quality Commission – they have a directory at www.cqc.org, which allows you to filter care homes by area and specialism, as well as showing you the latest ratings for each care home. There is also www.carehome.co.uk which gives you more information about each care home, including indication of price and bed availability.
- Recommendations Talk to people you know who may have first hand experience of local care homes. There is nothing better than cutting through the marketing and hearing what the care is really like.
- Local networks. In your local community there will be support groups who will help you with advice and guidance.
- Age UK have a national branch network; you can find your local branch at www.ageuk.org.uk.
- The Alzheimer’s Society have local events and groups all around the country www.alzheimers.org.uk
- There will also be independent support groups, which you can find through Google.
- Inspection Reports Each care home will have been visited and inspected by the Care Quality Commission, and the latest report will be available at www.cqc.org. These reports can be quite long, but there is a short Inspection Summary which is worth reading.
- Reviews and Ratings Check reviews online through Google and www.carehome.co.uk Also check on the latest CQC inspection rating at www.cqc.org.
- Go and see the homes Once you have your shortlist, go and see the homes. Either with an appointment or without, either way, bring someone with you, either another family member or ideally the person who is considering living there. It is often likened to buying a house; you just know, as soon as you walk through the door, whether this is the place for you. Some people prefer to have a checklist as they go around the home, and Age UK have a handy guide which can be downloaded at www.ageuk.org.uk/carecheck.
- Without an appointment – The home will be as you find it, but don’t be surprised if the manager is not available to show you round, and you may not have someone who can answer all your questions, including prices. Meal times are generally when the home is most busy, so you may be asked to wait.
- With an appointment – Generally a senior member of staff will show you round and be able to answer your questions.
- Staff approach, kindness and attitude. Remember this is about the home being able meet the needs of your loved one. What interest do the carers and managers take in you family member? what is their attitude towards you? Staff being kind and approachable is far more important that the design of he wallpaper.
- Find a bed After you have done your research and visited the homes on your short list it can often be a challenge to find a bed. Popular homes are often full, and you may have to wait until a bed becomes available. If you are looking in the Berkshire area, there is a weekly resource of available beds in all the care homes in the county www.berkscare.co.uk/page/berkshire-care-home-bed-register.