Getting the best care for your loved ones

For many families the time comes when the best place for a relative is in a residential care home. Here are some tips to ensure that, if this happens, you make the right choice.

Before taking any decision an assessment must be made of your relative’s needs and requirements, this can be done in consultation with social services if necessary. The assessment should cover health issues, both mental or physical and the need for on-going stimulus, like companionship, hobbies and interests, and if they have a pet this will also need to be accommodated. A particular location could be preferred, as they may wish to be close to shops, friends and public transport.

The next step is to identify a care home that will meet the requirements revealed during the assessment. Start with the location which suits the specific needs of the relative and be convenient for you, if you planning frequent visits.

When you have located a number of homes in an area check that they can support the health requirements and provide the right stimulus for your relative. Some homes only cover residential care whereas other will provide for people with mobility difficulties and dementia.

Once you have refined your list arrange an appointment to see what facilities are available at the home. Ideally you should take your relative with you, this is going to be their living environment, so they must be fully committed to it.

When you arrive for the visit take a look at the neighbourhood, is the accommodation on a busy road, does the area look run down and is there a garden to sit in.

First impressions count a lot, so take a look at the general state of the building, both inside and out. It should be clean, well maintained and feel welcoming. The staff should have a warm and friendly manner.

The next thing to judge is the atmosphere, does it have a comfortable, homely feel, is independence maintained and are there areas where staff and residents can socialise together.

Bedrooms are most important, are they designed for single occupancy or shared, do they have en-suite bathrooms or facilities nearby, can residents bring in some of their own furniture and is there a nurse call system.

If your relative has special physical needs is the home designed to accommodate these, are doors wide enough for a wheelchair, is there a lift and are there handrails on stairs. More generally is there any specialist equipment on offer like bath hoists and pressure-reliving mattresses.

What is the scope for registering with the local GP and are there visiting services like a chiropodist or optician. Also the needs of your relative may change in the future, so it is imperative to check that these can be addressed, if not it may require a change of home at sometime in the future.

Food is an important element for well-being and quality of life, you need to be assured that the food is nutritious and can be adapted to cater for health, dietary or religious preferences.

Check that there are regular activities which can both support your relative’s current interests and may also include outside groups visiting the home, days out and the celebration of birthdays and anniversaries.

Finally, are the staff friendly and efficient and will they interact with residents to ensure that they are happy and contented.

These points are just an overview of the many criteria that you will need to consider when choosing the right residential care. You will find this comprehensive in-depth guide to choosing a care home useful and you can also watch these videos for further advice and information.