Choosing between care homes
When choosing a care home you need to have a good think about what really matters to you.
There are a few personal questions that you should ask yourself or a loved one when considering the move to a care home.
It is important you think about your personal priorities. Do you or your loved ones wish to maintain independence and participate in regular activities and day trips? Do you want reassurance that your changing care needs will be met without you having to move again? How important is location; do you want to be close to friends and family or particular local amenities?
Thinking and talking about these details will help you form a clear opinion of what you really value and help you when you start looking at particular homes.
Arrange a visit
Choosing a care home is just like choosing any other place to live – within a few seconds most people instinctively know whether a place ‘feels right’. We always advise customers to visit a number of homes and choose the one that best suits your needs.
How can short stays and visits help people choosing a care home?
When you go to visit a care home either for yourself or for a relative, take someone with you for another opinion and for moral support.
Trust your gut feeling – you’ll know what you like when you see it and if the home is for a relative, try to put yourself in their shoes and think what they might prefer.
Speak to people who live and work there
Speaking to people who are already residents in the care home is an excellent way to start. There’s no comparison for a personal recommendation and trusted insight into what life is really like in the home.
As well as speaking to residents in person, you can also get a lot of insight from websites that share care home reviews. Your Care Rating is a care home customer satisfaction survey that enables all residents living within a care home to provide their views and feedback via an independent, confidential and standardised annual survey. You can read through the findings on their website.
It is important to consider how care needs might change to ensure that you or your loved one will have access to the right care at every stage. It’s a good idea to speak to the care home manager about the options available and speak to members of staff and ask about hiring procedures, to make sure that staff have professional backgrounds and are correctly qualified.
Ask your questions
It may be the little things that appeal to you about the home; being able to have visitors whenever you want or a telephone line in your room.
You will have lots of questions when you visit. We have put together a checklist which can help you to remember the queries you may have. It compiles the questions most commonly asked about care homes, as well as issues our customers have told us were most important to them. It covers questions such as:
- Staff: do they seem friendly and caring, how do they talk to the residents? Do staff receive regular training and what are the staff to resident ratios?
- Accommodation: is the home well decorated, is it safe and secure and would you have private bathroom facilities? Can you bring your own furniture or your pet? Are there separate dining and social areas?
- Facilities and catering: is it well adapted to your specific needs e.g. sight, hearing or mobility? Do you have access to medical services, hairdressing and opticians? Can you choose your meals and where you’d like to eat them?
- Activities: can you continue to pursue the hobbies you enjoy, is there a library and are regular outings organised? Is there an accessible garden for you to enjoy?
- Fees and contracts: how much are the fees, does that include everything and how often are the fees reviewed? How often do you need to pay something? What are the terms and conditions and complaints policies?
We’d recommend you download and take a copy of this checklist with you when you visit each care home.
Arrange a trial stay
To ensure you are completely happy with your decision to move, you could also request a trial stay in the care home of your choice. This will give you a chance to meet other people living in the home properly, take part in a wider range of activities and get a real feel for what your new home is like. Trial stays vary based on the availability of a vacant room and the length of time you would like to stay.
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