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Choosing a residential care home – Focus on Dementia

Choosing a care home is a very challenging and stressful time, so speak to people who have been through this process, it will really help you.

  1. Do the research yourself– find out yourself where and what the care homes are like. Recommendations from people you know and trust are good but only part of the research you will do. Ask how they found out about the place. It is your parent or loved, there is no one but you and they who have an absolutely vested interest in finding the best care available and that you can afford. Furthermore you will at least have made an informed decision.
  2. Make sure a care home you are interested in has the facilities to manage and support your loved ones condition, e.g. Dementia and also think ahead in the case of progressive disease.
  3. Make sure you look at the inspection score and read these very carefully and understand what the scoring means. Bear in mind these are snapshots in time and things change for better and for worse in each setting. Are the inspection reports part of an unannounced inspection? Was it a partial inspection? All these play a vital role in the inspection outcome. One inspection is sometimes not enough so look at any historical inspections in the past to get an idea of the culture of care and management at that home.
  4. Visit first! As obvious as it may seem. Some people do not visit first, or at least feel pressured to accept the initial care homes they come across.
  5. When you visit. Make an appointment. Get a set of questions together. Questions you might ask: (there are so many, so here is a sample of important ones)
  6. How much does the place cost per week and month
  7. What are the additional costs. Hairdressing, activities, extra food, laundry, nail cutting etc.
  8. Find out how many staff there are and how many managers there are at any one time
  9. Find out how many residents there are.
  10. Are there any plans for expansion or moving from that premises
  11. Ask to look around, view the rooms, go when there are people around, often lunch times and meal times are busy but will give you a good idea of how things are organised. Cleanliness and hygiene is paramount, not so much that the premises looks new or modern.
  12. Is there a common area? Not all residents may be able or want to use it.
  13. Ask some questions about how they deal with people’s behaviour, people with dementia can often be confused, sometimes argumentative or just demanding. See what responses you get from the staff.
  14. Talk to some of the carers and see how they feel about where they work. If you can, find out how long they have been working there. Generally a high turnaround of staff shows that there are either temporary staff or other issues about retaining good people.
  15. You might be feeling the stress and are under pressure. Make sure when you leave, you think and evaluate all of the information.
  16. Make sure you have a social worker or local authority care service or care agency involved. They can give you the inside on the care homes you choose, but do check for yourself. If you involve and contact these agencies then you can go to there for help in the future.

Article first published in –   – 9 Feb 2016

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