Choosing the Right Care Home - A Handy Checklist
Finding the right care home for yourself or a relative is often confusing and can be overwhelming. The following checklist is here to help you when it comes to choosing the care home that feels right for you. It lists things that are useful to look out for when speaking to care Home Managers, or when visiting care homes. There is also a quick PDF version that you can easily print and take with you when visiting care homes.
Where is the care home located?
If you have family and friends in the area, it is worth thinking about a care home nearby. Many people look for homes within a 25-minute drive of their own home or that of a close relative. You can put your nearest town name into the search bar on the brighterkind website to find the nearest home to you. Additionally, his service is available on most online care directories. It is also worth considering whether you prefer somewhere quiet and rural or whether you like to be in the hustle and bustle of a busy area.
What are your first impressions of the care home?
Your first impressions are very important and personal to you. We all have different preferences so when you walk into the home, consider how you want it to feel – does the home give you the impression of calm or lots going on? Does the home have charm and character? Does it feel homely or more of a clinical or hotel environment? Are you greeted warmly and feel welcome when you first walk in? Many homes offer a hot or cold drink and snack to visitors. This may be an important consideration if your family travels a long way to visit you. Are there quiet areas as well as busy communal areas for you to sit and relax and chat with family and friends too?
What is the quality of the care provided in the care home?
This is very difficult to determine on a first visit. However, you should be able to observe interactions between the team and see whether the team has time for everyone. Carers need to be passionate and committed to their role with a ‘we can and we will’ attitude.
What is the atmosphere like in the care home?
Whatever your personal preference, the atmosphere in a care home should always feel a happy and friendly place to live. On your visit think about how the home feels. ? Does it feel like an extended family? Do you feel that the home is inspiring and uplifting? Do the care team have time to chat and build relationships with those they care for? Are there clear friendships amongst residents and care teams?
Is the care Home Manager likeable and professional?
It is important to trust and like the care Home Manager so that you and your relatives feel comfortable and able to build a relationship with them. A good Home Manager will have a wealth of knowledge to pass on and advise you and your family at all points of your care. You also need tofeel comfortable and confident in the Home Manager’s ability to lead their care team and create a home that provides a happy and supportive place to live and work.
What is the food and dining offering in the care home?
When you enter the home, you want to see a current menu and to ask about alternatives and choices available. This will be your home, so find out whether you can have your meal in your room if you prefer. What does the home do to make the dining experience special for residents?
Is there a range of activities on offer, including trips into the community, in the care home?
Having group activities on offer does create a sense of community within a home, but it is also good to know that everyone’s individual needs are taken into account. The home should be making best efforts to make living in the home feel special and happy with lots of opportunity to enjoy activities and pursue new or existing interests if you choose. It is worth asking about recreation and activities that are on offer and taking a look at the photographs displayed in the home – do they demonstrate group and individual pursuits, trips out and individual wishes? You may also enjoy some quiet time or just simple chats and companionship - how does the home support this?
How is the accommodation and facilities of the care home?
Care Homes vary widely in their accommodation and facilities. Although a relative may feel that an ensuite is important, you may find that you don’t use one. It is more important that the home environment makes you feel at home, safe and part of a family. Consider your room - are you encouraged to personalise your room and surround yourself with small items that make you feel comfortable and settled. What are the other facilities in the home? Many homes offer hairdressing and nail services. Does the home have other features that appeal to you such as a lovely garden, library or movie theatre? Are there nice areas to meet family and friends that are comfortable and relaxing?
Does the care home have gardens and outdoor spaces?
Having outdoor space can be uplifting for the spirits. Ask to have a look at the garden and find out how often it is used. Does it encourage residents to get fresh air whenever possible? Does the care home also offer trips out to local sights and community facilities?
Does the care home have connections with the local community?
A care home can play a vital role in it’s local area. Many residents will be locals and have contributed to their community in many ways and have strong connections with the people, places and services. Does the home have strong links with the local community?? Is there lots of opportunity to maintain your connections or make new ones? Do they have any examples they can talk about to illustrate this for you such as visits to and from local groups, schools and churches and trips out to enjoy community activities?
Life within the care home
What is day to day life like in the home – is there a normal pattern, how will this fit in with you and your routine? Is there something for everyone, so that every resident feels comfortable and at home?
What are the care home fees charged, and what is your perception of value for money?
Care home fees can vary widely even within a small area. Homes will need to have a conversation with you about how you are funding your care. If you are paying some or all of the fees, you want to know that you are getting the right care, in a homely environment and you are happy with the team.
What are the general housekeeping standards in the home?
Your new home should be clean and well maintained. More than ever before, it is important that the home adheres to strict infection control procedures and keeps a clean, tidy and well kept home to ensure that everyone is safe and looked after to a high standard. Look around the home and ask questions about cleaning routines, laundry services, housekeeping services and how they ensure fresh air and a room temperature to suit each resident.
Feeling supported by the care team
To feel well cared for is to feel supported by a capable, professional and friendly care team? Are you introduced to key members? Does everyone in the home seem friendly and welcoming? Are they talking to other residents? What are the ratios of care assistants to residents? If you require nursing care, what are the nurse ratios to residents? Is the team clearly complying to latest Coronavirus protocol and wearing the correct PPE? How does the team maintain standards and keep updated on latest practice?
Meeting your care needs
Understanding the type of care you need before visiting a home is really important. It allows you to ask the right questions and help you with planning your care for the future too. Does the home provide the care you need? Are there residents with the same needs?Are the care team fully trained in your care needs? What equipment does the home have to help you feel safe and supported eg call system; handrails; mobility eqt; shower seating? How do they encourage independence? What are the toilet and washing facilities for your care type? How do they ensure social interaction and that sense of belonging?
What other services are available to the home?
To maintain your overall health and wellbeing there are lots of services that we require to help us to feel the best we can and lift our spirits. All care homes have a link with the local GP but what other external services are available to residents in the home? Do they have a visiting Parkinson nurse; physiotherpist; dentist; chiropodist; podiatrist and optician for example? Does a hairdresser visit regularly? There may be extra costs involved for external services - what are they?
What outside the home support is offered?
If you would like or need to pursue interests outside of the home such as church services, community group meetings or have regular outpatient appointments - what service does the home offer to support this - do they have their own transport? Or escort service to accompany you to appointments or visits - and if so what are the costs for this?
What is the visitation policy?
Find out about a home’s visitation policy to ensure it fits with anticipated visits from friends and family. Get a clear understanding of how the home are complying with latest covid guidance. Do they allow pets to be brought to a visit? What entertainment is there for young children? Is there a limit to how many visitors you can have at one time? How long can a visit be? Can a visitor stay overnight? Many homes will be sensitive to other residents’ needs and may discourage visits during mealtimes or late into the evening. Does this work for you?