What Makes a Good Care Home?
If you find that your elderly relative can no longer look after their self, it can be a tough decision to do the right thing. If they are becoming forgetful, lost or neglecting certain things you may be concerned about their safety.
How Can I Tell if Something is wrong?
Certain patterns of behaviour will start to change if your relative, friend or neighbour is finding it hard to cope alone. Physical or mental impairments will cause problems with day to day living.
If the problem is physical then the elderly person may have difficulties with stairs, getting out of the house, struggling with their personal care or be prone to falls.
If there is a mental problem it could be the start of dementia. The signs to look out for include:
- Forgetting things, such as turning off the oven or locking the doors
- Confusion, such as putting things in the wrong place or dressing in the ‘wrong order’
- Stumbling with words as they become forgetful
- Getting anxious or frustrated that they cannot remember
- Changes in personality
- Finding daily tasks almost impossible to do, such as washing, cooking and cleaning
Physical problems with an elderly person may mean they are wheelchair bound or have other problems with walking. They may have poor eyesight or arthritis and generally feel a home is best for them.
Depending on where you live there are many options when it comes to care. If an elderly person is able to live in their own home but needs assistance with bathing and preparing meals, then domiciliary care could be an option.
This would be an arrangement with a community care team when carers would come around at set times to assist.
An initial assessment would need to be made however to ensure the individual is safe at times they are alone in their home.
Some elderly people are looked after by family members on a full time basis. The reason could be down to the cost of care or that family do not want to see their relative in a care home.
If this is the case, they will still be entitled to help with cost of equipment, such as bath chairs, wheelchairs, walking aids and incontinence pads. They can also apply for respite vouchers so that they can stay in a care home for a few weeks over the year. If the main carer in the family wants a break or a holiday then this is ideal.
If it is likely that the elderly person will benefit from going into a care home either for respite care or on a permanent basis, then they will need the right kind of home for them.
Residential or Retirement Homes
Residential care homes usually take in elderly people over the age of 65. Some may choose to go into a home for more help and company, while others are advised to get full time care.
Residential and retirement homes will accept a wide range of people with different levels of need as long as they are not considered to need ‘nursing care’.
Those who need nursing care include people who are acutely ill and need a care home, those who are immobile and need to be hoisted or those with medical problems and would benefit from having a nurse in the home 24 hours a day.
A nursing home will cater for more complex needs and highly dependent residents. They may have learning disabilities or dementia.
Some homes may have locked units to safeguard those with dementia and frequently wander due to confusion. They will be assessed in accordance to DOLS (Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards) for their own health and safety.
Generally a residential (rest home) or retirement home will cater for those with mild physical problems and can be assisted using walking frames, sliding boards or turntables. If the resident is quite independent and doesn't require full hoisting then a residential home should be fine for them.
Residential homes are not locked during the day and residents are free to come and go as they choose. The care staff will assist to their need and help with washing, dressing and toileting as they need it.
What do Care Homes Provide?
Care homes have a team of Health Care Assistants to provide personal care and general care for residents. Senior Care Assistants tend to take on more responsibility such as making doctor appointments, dealing with the pharmacy, showing potential clients around and updating care plans.
There will be a manager (or nurse in charge if it is a nursing home), assistant manager, administration staff for larger homes, kitchen, cleaning and laundry staff. There may be a maintenance worker and activity co-ordinator as well.
Care homes provide help with personal care, providing and serving meals and drinks, a laundry service, outside help from physiotherapists, district nurses (not for nursing homes) and other health professionals.
Each resident should have a bedroom with an en suite toilet and shower. It should also include a bed, television and bedroom furniture.
Nursing homes will provide their resident’s with correct moving and handling equipment, incontinence pads and a bath with chair lift.
There will be communal lounges for residents to sit during the day and a garden.
- Care home care of older people from Care UK: Paying for care
Information to help you address the issues involved in paying for care from Care UK
- Getting a break from caring - Carers Direct - NHS Choices
How carers can access respite care and your right to access replacement care such as night sitting or residential care
- Elderly Activities
Download our free activities sheets: View our wide range of activities for the elderly, including sensory therapy activities, arts and crafts, indoor and outdoor games, dementia activities and more.
Going that Extra Mile
When it comes to picking a home suitable for individual’s needs and wishes, you may look for something special.
As with any home, you will look for a good atmosphere and location but you will also pick up on other things. These include:
- A clean environment which smells pleasant
- Nice decor and furniture throughout the home
- A nice spacious garden to sit in
- Plenty of friendly well trained staff
- Nice fresh food on the menu to suit dietary requirements
- Generally well run home
- Happy looking residents and staff
For a top rated home, you will want to see a little extra. If you are not sure what is provided, then ask. These are the things you want to see:
Activities are important in care homes, as moving out of your own home can be a huge emotional strain. Dementia sufferers are also prone to depression, so mental stimulation is important.
Not everyone wants to participate in activities, but one to one chats or looking at photograph albums together count as an activity.
Some residents enjoy group activities such as quizzes, bingo or games such as scrabble. It is also important to provide music and entertainment of their era, show old movies and have parties to celebrate certain dates.
Some homes also provide transport to take them on outings. Trips out shopping, to pubs or restaurants, garden centres or to see shows are great ways to keep residents active and alert. Having entertainment and friends and family parties are also great for those who cannot get out.
When it comes to entertaining dementia sufferers, light, music, balloon games and puzzles are suitable.
Some dementia units will have items of times gone by for residents to make use of. Old books, type writers, shop tills and old money help them to familiarize themselves with what they remember.
Good homes should invest in having televisions and DVD players for each resident. There should be a wide range of DVD’s, books and music to listen to.
Having fresh flowers and plants make for a nice touch, as well as pictures and ornaments around the home.
It is also nice to have animals such as rabbits in the garden or calming fish in tanks indoors. Some homes allow pets, so ask if you want to bring one in.
Being in quiet surroundings have benefits and therefore very appealing when moving home.
Other factors to consider include:
- Nice views to look out at
- Good transport for visitors and for outings
- Close to amenities such as local shops or a church
- Close to Family, friends and doctor’s surgery
You should be allowed access to inspection reports (such as the Care Quality Commissions).
The reports are based on standards of care, dignity, risk and fire assessments, health and safety, nutrition, good working conditions and up to date care files.
From reading these reports, you should get an idea of the home’s strengths and weaknesses.
The layout of the home is important for many reasons. It needs to be suitable for wheelchair users and have wide corridors, doorways and ramps. There must be a lift if it is more than one floor and the home must be homely rather than clinical.
Having a number of lounges makes it nice for those who want a quiet area and those who want to participate in activities. Easy access to the garden is important to get out into the fresh air and easy access to toilets is a must.
If the person going into the home had hobbies important to them it will help to continue with them.
Knitting, crocheting, gardening, DIY (supervised!), and crosswords all help with person centred care.
Care homes can be unique as they all have different added extras. Different things impress different people, depending on their level of need or interest.
Look out for:
- Happy Hour – some homes set out a bar area for happy hour
- Casino nights – some have parties for friends and family and have themes
- In house physiotherapy – arm chair aerobics and bowling are great for rehabilitation
- Pet Corner – animals are very therapeutic, so stroking cats or dogs help some people
- Music time – the home may have a piano to play on for example or have a harpist
- Sensory rooms – lava lamps, aromatherapy oils and soothing music are great, especially for those with onset dementia
- Games room – some still enjoy playing pool, darts or poker
- Arts and crafts – making things in a group
- Charity events – sponsored walks, raffles and garden parties bring the community together
Activities for those with Dementia, Emma Harvey
- Activities for those with Dementia
Dementia comes in many different forms and affects people differently. Stimulating dementia patients to put their needs and quality of life is vital but finding the right activity can be a challenge.