Choosing a care home is a big decision, which can often be made quickly when there is a health crisis. In order to make a good decision, it is useful to think about what you would like and may need in the future and discuss this with your loved ones.
There are a number of things you may need to consider when choosing the right care home for you:
1. What care do you need?
It is important to be able to understand your own needs, in order to find a care home that can meet all of these.
A care assessment from the local authority may help you to identify exactly what type of care you need (see our article on getting a care assessment for more information.) This assessment usually takes a wide look at your needs and abilities, and then determines whether you would benefit from additional care and at what level. A local authority assessment will also be able to establish whether or not you are eligible to receive any support with the financing moving into a care home.
2. What type of care home?
If you have decided that a care home is the right type of move for your needs, there are a number of types of care home that you may choose to consider.
Care homes can be run by a number of different organisations including local authority, private companies and charitable organisations. They need to be approved by the appropriate regulatory body in your country.
Different types of care home offer different levels of care. Here are some main types of care home available:
Residential Care – in these homes, practical and personal support is offered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in order to help people maintain their independence. Other services such as assistance with bathing and housekeeping may also be on offer, as well as meal options within the home.
Care homes with nursing care - Offer personal care, but also have qualified nurses on duty at all times. They may specialise in particular illnesses or disabilities, such as dementia.
Dual registered care – These home have a combination of residential and nursing care. They might be a good option if, for example, your condition is likely to deteriorate and you don’t want to move twice, or for couples who have different care needs but still wish to stay together.
3. Make a checklist
Once you have decided what type of care home is most appropriate, make a shortlist of suitable care homes in your area. Your local authority should be able to help you with this, as can some local charities or support groups.
The cost of care homes can vary greatly between establishments, so it is important to find out the charges of care, and make sure that any homes you shortlist are within your budget.
Once you have made a shortlist, request an information pack from these homes to find out more details.
You could request a copy of their contracts and/or terms and conditions.
Make sure they have vacancies or establish how long their waiting list is.
Check how much notice you need to give if you move out and how much notice you will be given if the home is to close.
If your funding is local-authority assisted, check that they will accommodate you at the local authority rate or whether a top-up would be required.
Don’t forget to take into account additional costs that might not be covered in your residential fees. Ask what extras you might have to pay for.
4. Arrange a visit
Once you have made a shortlist of potential homes, arrange with the manager to go and look around the properties. Choosing a care home is much like choosing any other home; people often know whether a place ‘feels right’ within a few moments of walking in. Visit several homes in order to be able to find which one is the best fit for you.
Speak to staff and residents who work in the homes and compile a list of priorities and questions that are important to you. (For an example list, please see our article on questions to ask when looking at a care home.)