Choosing a Care Home
Choosing a Care Home for a loved one is one of the most important decisions you will make.
People often have to consider looking for a care home during a personal or family crisis such as a serious illness or fall requiring hospitalisation, or following the death of a husband or wife who was the main carer. Invariably this means that they have to find a home quickly and with insufficient time to research and carefully consider all of the available options. Take your time and do not be rushed into making a decision; return for further visits if you are unsure which home you should choose or to ask further questions.
Make arrangements to visit at least three care homes, if possible more than once before making any decisions. Sample the food and observe what is going on in the home and talk to the residents. Watch interaction between the staff and residents. Meet the home manager, as they will be setting the standards by which the home runs.
The best indication of a good home is that the residents appear happy and responsive, and that individuals are treated with dignity and respect. The following points are considered to be indicators of quality care
- Do staff speak to residents in a way the residents like?
- Are residents involved in activities or chatting?
- Is there a happy atmosphere;
- Are the residents in communal lounges engaged in activities during your visit?
- Look around to see if there is information or pictures of social events.
- What activities does home offer for those residents who wish to remain in their rooms?
- Are they properly dressed and well groomed?
- Do they seem alert and interested?
- Do they talk to you as you walk round?
- Can residents go to their rooms when they wish to be alone?
- Do staff respect people's right to privacy, and knock on bedroom doors?
- Do they have regular religious services?
- Will friends or family be able to visit easily?
- Is there a trial period?
- What happens if a resident's condition deteriorates?
Building and equipment
- Is the home well presented in terms of cleanliness, tidiness, decor and furnishings?
- Is the home free from unpleasant odours?
- Is there a TV or radio left on when no one is watching or listening?
- Is there more than one room where residents can sit or where they can be quiet or see visitors?
- Are the living areas bright and stimulating?
- Is the garden accessible, user friendly for the elderly and safe?
- If person uses equipment or adaptations, are corridors & toilets wide enough for walking frame or wheelchair?
- Are residents encouraged to bring in some of their own furniture and possessions?
- Are special diets catered for, and are residents' likes and dislikes taken into account?
- Can residents eat in their rooms, or eat at different times, if they prefer?
- Are there facilities for making snacks if a resident feels peckish?
- Are staff trained to sensitively help people eat their food, if necessary?
- During what time visitors are allowed?
- Are there quiet areas where relatives can spend time with residents?
- Are visitors encouraged to take residents out, or join them for a meal?
- Does the home provide personalised activities that are suitable and engaging for residents?
- Are there opportunities for residents to help staff with small tasks if they wish?
- Are activities available each day or are residents left to sit in front of the TV?
- Are trips and outings organised and special events celebrated?
- Are residents encouraged to take exercise?
- Are residents able to choose and listen to a variety of music when they feel able?
- Are staff interested in learning about the person's background and culture?
- Do staff show a respect for differences that might involve diet, clothing, or religious observances?
- Do staff find out how residents wish to be addressed, and how they prefer to relate to other people?
- What training do the staff receive? What additional training have the trained nurses undertaken?
- Do they make time to sit and chat to residents, or talk to them while they are helping them with physical tasks?
- Is knowledge displayed and evidence of staff training?
- Do they know about residents' backgrounds, habits and interests?
- What are the staffing ratios, ask to see the staffing rotation?
- Are the staff attentive and polite?
- Are the staff well presented?
Administration / Head of home
- Do they answer your questions openly, and seem to understand your concerns?
- Does each resident have a care plan, and are their needs regularly reviewed?
- Is there a complaints procedure?
- What is included in the fee, what may be charged as 'extras'?
- How much notice has to be given on either side?
Above all, use head and heart - you will get a feel for a place the moment you walk through the door.