Choosing a care home for a person you love – very possibly a parent who looked after you and brought you up – is one of the most difficult decisions you can ever face.
Where do you start? Looking for a care home is normally only done as a last resort – when a person can no longer be cared for at home and all other options are exhausted.
It can be a very stressful time and it’s likely the relative in question will be very anti the move.
There’s little doubt that reputation and word-of- mouth recommendation are still one of the best ways of getting a steer. Ask around. Think about who you know that has a friend or relative in a care home. Would they recommend it?
Check a home’s website and check for any independent reviews – that will give you a good feel for the place.
Look what services a home offers. Does it have everything your relative will need both now and in the future?
Can you get to it easily? Is it on a bus route if you’re using public transport?
The www.carehomes.co.uk website is a very good resource and guide to what’s out there. Check that and try to draw up a short list of no more than three.
Visiting care homes can be tiring and draining – try not to have to visit too many. Do your research before.
Don’t make an appointment – turn up unannounced. It’s the only way to know what a place is really like.
Try and visit in office hours – that way you’ll have more chance of getting all the information you need as all the staff and management will be in.
Make a note of what the atmosphere is like. Do the staff smile, is there laughter?
What’s the odour like? A care home shouldn’t have a general odour – if there’s an unpleasant odour, they’re not doing things right.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Take a list of pre-prepared questions with you.
Care Quality Commission (CQC) reports are a good measure of standards but, remember, they only reflect a single day and might not be representative of the home when you visit.
Care UK also provide handy advice and checklists: Age UK Finding a care home