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Choosing a Care Home

By: Sarah O'Hara BA (hons) - Updated: 4 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
Care Homeassessing Care Homes Room

Moving into a care home is a big step, and as it concerns where you will be living it’s important to really think things through and make sure you get the right home for you.

Although some people don’t actually start to consider their care home options until they reach old age, many others are starting to think about their possible future needs earlier on. This is both to help them plan financially and to ensure that they are able to stay in the type of care home they would like when they are older.

Finding Out About Care Homes

Firstly, you will need to undergo a needs assessment by your Local Authority to determine the level of care that you need. This will tell you whether you need nursing care, or whether just residential care will be enough. You will also be assessed financially to determine any help you are entitled to.

There will be an upper limit to what the Local Authority will pay for each person’s care needs. If you choose a home that costs more than this, you will have to pay the difference.

If you don’t want or need to apply for financial help, you can approach care homes directly and they will assess your needs and tell you whether they can cater for them.

There are a few ways that you can find out about residential care in your area, so that you can choose some homes to initially visit:

  • Ask Your GP for Advice
  • Ask for recommendations from friends and relatives
  • Ask your local council for a list of homes in your area
  • Approach relevant charities for advice and information on choosing a care home

You can also look at the inspection reports for individual care homes. These reports are carried out by:

  • The Commission for Social Care Inspection (England)
  • The Care Standards Inspectorate for Wales (Wales)
  • The Scottish Commission for the Regulation of Care (Scotland)

Assessing Care Homes

You’ll probably need to visit a few care homes before you find the one that’s right. The home should feel comfortable and you should also make sure you have investigated all the practicalities. If you are unable to assess care homes yourself, a carer, trusted friend or relative should be able to do this with or for you. If not, the council will be able to help.

There are a few useful questions to ask yourself and the staff when you visit each home:

  • Location: Is it easily accessible by friends and family? Are the public transport links good? Is it quiet? Are there outdoor spaces?
  • Overall feel: What are the staff like? Does the home have a welcoming and warm atmosphere? Do the residents seem happy? Is the home clean?
  • Level of care: Does the home provide a level of care suitable for my needs? What are the personal care facilities like? Does a hairdresser visit regularly?
  • Rooms: What are the bedrooms like? What are the communal areas like? Will there be organised communal activities? Is your room lockable? Will you have a television and a phone?
  • Food: Can you eat when you like or are there fixed meal times? Can the home cater for specific dietary needs? Is there a choice of food each day? Can someone help you with eating if necessary?

If possible, it can also be useful to arrange a temporary stay in a care home, to give you a more realistic idea of what living there is like. Many care homes can arrange this.

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