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How to Choose a Care Home

Updated on March 27, 2016
elderly women together
elderly women together | Source

How to choose the right home

It is absolutely essential to choose the right care home for yourself or your loved one. It will save a lot of heartache and stress later should you have to make another move.

If you are able, visit as many homes as possible. Chat to the residents and their relatives. Don't allow yourself feel 'hurried up' by staff as this is a lifechanging decision you are about to make. So take your time as far as is possible.

Once you have shortlisted a few, say two or three, ask if you can have a trial period of a few days or a week, if you can afford it. This will help you get a flavour of the home.

Consider the location - if you prefer the countryside don't opt for a home in the town or city, and vice versa. It sounds obvious, but is such an easy mistake to make. You have to feel comfortable with your surroundings and a pleasant view is part of that.

Why are you planning this move? If it's because you or your loved one is becoming uncertain at home, unsteady on your feet, maybe a little forgetful and lonely then a residential home may be the best option. So don't view homes that specialise in intensive nursing care or dementia. On the otherhand, you may need nursing care, in which case a nursing home is right for you.

Don't be afraid to ask questions - this is, after all one of the most important decisions you will ever have to make. On top of that, you are bringing business their way, so you have a right to ask as much as you can.

For example-

* Can I bring my own furniture with me, or at least, some of it?

* What about beloved pets? It is very hard to leave pets behind that you may have shared your life with for a number of years. They brought inestimable happiness, comfort, and even friendship if you have been living alone and were isolated for one reason or another. Some care homes permit pets such as cats and budgies. Others do not.

* If you have special food needs such as gluten free or vegetarian are they able to cater for you properly?

* What range of activities do they have?

* If you are a religious person, what provision is made for your religion? Traditional religions such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam are usually well provided for. But what if you are a Buddhist or a Pagan?

* If you like to garden, ask if there is any opportunity for you to carry on with your hobby in the home. Some care homes have fabulous gardens in which areas are dedicated for the residents to cultivate. This provides much satisfaction, not to mention exercise. Others may only have a very small paved area at the back which is maintained by a gardener. This may not suit you at all if you love to garden and are still able.

*Does the home organise regular outings? It is important to get out as much as possible for fresh air, stimulation and sociability, all of which contribute to physical and psychological health.

* Are visiting entertainers a regular feature, such as musicians and theatre groups?

* Is the home fairly democratic? ie are residents' meetings held on a regular basis where you can air your views?


Settling in

Once you have chosen the care home you consider most suitable for your needs here are a few tips to help you settle in -

* My number one tip is that it is not good to stay in your room all the time! Your room is not a prison cell, you have not been sent there as a punishment, so don't punish yourself! so -

* Take your meals in the dining room with the other residents. Mealtimes are often the ideal time to get to know other people and make new friends. You'll be amazed how friendly and supportive others can be, as you are all in the same situation.

*Join in with activities, even ones you may not have previously enjoyed, such as bingo. You'll be amazed what fun it can be. The activities co-ordinator will have gone to a lot of trouble to try to find suitable activities that everyone can enjoy, so take full advantage of them. It is more psychologically healthy to participate than to sit in your room staring at the tv!

* Don't be afraid to ask for your own bedlinen and curtains. Surround yourself with familiar items such as paintings, ornaments and photographs. The staff will want you to feel as at home as possible.

* Try not to be too critical of the staff. Remember - you are a stranger to them in the same way as they are to you. You all need time to get to know one another.

* Ask to be involved in your care plan. You are not at school or in prison or hospital! This is your new home and you have a right to have a say in your care.

*Try to develop a philosophical attitude. You have come here to stay in the care home because for one reason or another you were not managing in your own home. It was a positive, lifechanging decision which was made with the best of intentions for your own good.

* Be gentle with yourself. Don't expect too much too soon. It will take time to settle in so don't be hasty in planning another move, which may be no better. You will have good days and bad days, but hopefully more and more good days as you come to realise this is the right place to be.

Let me share a little story with you -

In times gone by, in England, there were no hospitals, let alone care homes for the elderly or infirm. The role was taken on by the Church. Monks and nuns looked after the sick in specially allocated areas within the monasteries.

All was well for a very long time.

Then along came Henry Vlll and the dissolution of the monasteries.

These caring estabilishments were shut down or burnt to the ground, and the sick were thrown out on the streets to become beggars. People lay in the gutter or went begging in the street or from door to door. People starved, the sick died.

As a result of this hideous act by the king there was immense suffering in the land. It was a huge backward step in healthcare and provision for the elderly.

Nowadays in Britain we do not have to go begging or die in the gutter in pain. We have hospitals and care homes who look after us! So be grateful, be happy you live in the 21st century and not the 16th!

King Henry Vlll - no compassion for the sick and infirm?
King Henry Vlll - no compassion for the sick and infirm? | Source

And finally

Think on these words, which are the words of St Francis of Assissi -

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference".

I hope this article has helped someone!

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