Choosing the right care home to meet the needs of your loved one is hugely important. Hayley Cantrell, manager of Foxearth Lodge Nursing Home (https://www.foxearthlodge.co.uk), suggests how to make the right choice…
If you are caring for a person with dementia, you may have concluded it is no longer safe for them to be alone. And it may not be practical for them to live with you. If the responsibility of choosing the right home is entirely down to you, it can feel like a lot of pressure. Try not to be burdened by guilt. In the right home, the person will receive good care.
If your loved one is in the latter stages of dementia, a nursing home could be a good choice. A nursing home is for those with more complex needs and will always have a trained nurse present. They can provide nursing care and can manage chronic conditions. Residents will have support with washing, bathing, dressing and feeding.
It’s important to consider what level of care your loved one needs now and in the future. Their condition will deteriorate, so try to choose a home that can meet their needs in the long term.
Before you visit a care home, it’s worth reading the latest inspection report of the home on the Care Quality Commission (CQC) website. The CQC regulates all independent care homes in England and conducts regular inspections of care homes. Visit http://www.cqc.org.uk
View as many different homes as you can. Observe how residents are being treated by the staff. Look at the residents and see how they are interacting. Are they involved in activities? Are they clean and well groomed? How do the care home staff speak to the residents? Are they respectful and courteous?
Privacy is important. Ask if the person can have their own room if this is what they would like and if they can choose what clothes they would like to wear. Do they have the freedom to go to their room when they want to be alone?
Do they get a choice of meals? If they want to eat in their room, do they have the freedom to do this? Can they have snacks and drinks, like tea and biscuits, in between meals if they want to?
Medication is also key. What sort of provision does the home have in place for residents who refuse medication or can’t take it on their own? What happens if a resident is unwell? What is the procedure for getting them the medical help?
Ask what sort of training their staff have received. Is it a home that specialises in dementia? What is their policy on managing with challenging behaviour?
If the person isn’t mobile or doesn’t walk very well then ask what provision will be put in place to prevent falls.
Other important considerations include whether the home has wheelchair access as well as a lift, and whether the room is appropriate for the person with dementia. Some care homes have shared bathroom facilities but some residents would prefer their own bathroom.
Security is another important factor so that the person doesn’t manage to leave the home, putting themselves at risk. Are the doors locked with special entry codes to gain access?
Ask the home what their policy is on visits. Are you free to visit anytime during the day or evening? Are you free to make a drink for the person and yourself when you visit and made to feel welcome? Make sure the home is located conveniently near you so that you can visit the person regularly.