Finding the right care home for yourself or a relative is often confusing and can be stressful, especially when you have more complex care requirements and need dementia care.
Dementia care (including Alzheimer’s)
Many residential care homes can provide dementia care, where the dementia is not the main care requirement. Dementia is a term that describes a range of illnesses that affect the brain. The most common of these is Alzheimer’s. Dementia affects people in different ways and carers usually have special training to support sufferers.
Here is a quick guide to choosing a care home that caters for people with dementia needs and a handy downloadable checklist to print out and take with you when you visit the home.
How do I pick which homes to visit? An increasingly important source of information is available on the internet, searching on search engines such as Google or Bing for care homes in a particular area or using sites such as carehome.co.uk, which will rate homes based on reviews from residents and their families. You may also consider The Care Quality Commission in England, or The Care Inspectorate in Scotland who can provide more information. Care home websites will enable you to rule homes in or out on the basis of location and the type of care provided. You’ll be able to see whether homes are part of specialist care home groups such as brighterkind, large healthcare companies or are smaller businesses with just one or two homes. You’ll also be able to find information on their philosophy: What is the care home’s approach to care? How do they care for residents and how is this supported by what they offer in terms of programmes, recreational activities, food, etc.? You can find out more about brighterkind’s care philosophy at: www.brighterkind.com/our-care/ourphiliosophy.
Care home websites will also provide you with contact details and you can decide whether to phone or email to book an appointment to visit or just turn up unannounced. Turning up unannounced gives you the opportunity to catch care homes ‘off guard’ but also has the disadvantage of not being able to guarantee to see the Home Manager or a senior member of the team, who may be away from the home or involved in other meetings.
1. What sort of care do I need?
Typically, a healthcare professional such as someone in the hospital discharge team, occupational therapist or district nurse will let you know what type of care you need. However, a good care home manager will also be able to guide you based on your care requirements.
Many care homes provide a mixture of nursing and residential care and some offer dementia care as well. Larger care home groups will include a separate search facility. brighterkind offers a search for dementia care homes: http://www.brighterkind.com/find-a-home
There are homes that also provide care for individuals where the dementia is the primary care need.
2. Create a shortlist of care homes offering dementia care to choose from
It’s normally a good idea to pull together a shortlist of care homes to visit. This can be done by asking friends and relatives about their own experiences of dealing with care homes in your area. You can also seek advice from health care and social care professionals.
Other sources to help you choose a nursing home near you include:
CQC Website (England and Wales)www.cqc.org.uk
CI Website (Scotland)
brighterkind website (England, Scotland and Jersey) www.brighterkind.com/
3. What to look for during your visit to a care home
The show round or visit is the most important way of being able to judge whether a nursing home is right for you.
We have created a handy checklist to take with you and a guide on what to look for when choosing a care home offering dementia care. You can download this for free, print it off at home, or just use it as an aid memoire during the visit.
It’s always worth going to more than one care home. Every home has its own personality and management style. You need to think about what’s important to the person who will be the resident and you as their relative or carer. For example, does the home offer a wide and varied activity programme, do they encourage residents to get out into the fresh air, what do the fees cover and where is the home located.
4. What’s the cost of the care and how to pay for care fees
Care home costs 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.
To help you understand how you might pay for care, you could use an independent organisation such as Symponia to find local professional advice from financial advisors who understand care fees and paying for care.
One of our values at brighterkind is to ‘keep it simple’ and the aim of this short guide is to do exactly that – to point you in the right direction to make the right choices to get the very best care available. What sort of care do you need? No two people are exactly the same and the type of care required will vary from one person to another as well as over time. If you are not 100% sure of what type care is needed this brief description of care types should help. You should also talk to your GP, social services or hospital discharge team who will also be able to provide you with good advice.
Our full Choosing a Care Home Guide is available here Top of Form