Sometimes we have to accept that our elderly parent or relative is struggling to continue living independently in their own home as daily tasks become increasingly difficult.
If you have decided that a move to a care home is the best option, how do you go about choosing the right one for their needs?
There have been many horror stories about care homes, with residents being abused and neglected and with staff shortages making it impossible to maintain the quality of care we expect for our loved ones.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) regulates the industry and their inspection reports should be a guide to how good a residential care home is. But the CQC admits that it struggles to keep up with their inspection schedules.
However, as reported in the Bath Echo last year, Bath & North East Somerset Council in conjunction with Adult Services launched a scheme called “Buy With Confidence + Care”. Care homes are strictly audited and only those meeting the required standards can join the scheme, meaning you can choose with the confidence that your relative will get the best possible care.
Discussing the Options
Where they are able, you need to discuss the care options with your relative. But it might not be easy to talk to someone who values their independence. They may not accept that they need help and they could understandably be reluctant to leave their home. If you’re finding the subject difficult to broach or your relative refuses to discuss it there is advice available on handling difficult conversations.
Your first step could be to arrange a care and support assessment with social services. This is free and a suitably trained person will identify the level of facilities and care required. It could be that a residential care home is not the only option in which case you can discuss the alternatives.
Alternatives to Residential Care
Some of the alternatives to a care home could be more cost-effective and better suited to the needs of your relative while allowing them more independence.
– Adapting their home
Making some straightforward adaptations to their property could enable them to stay there while removing some of the obstacles to everyday living. Ramps, handrails and a stair lift make moving around the home easier. Bathroom aids such as a walk-in bath or a shower with a seat make bathing simpler.
There is technology such as Telehealth which helps to manage some health conditions. Telecare enables you to summon help in the event of an emergency and an alert can be sent automatically with a fall detector. A video entry system lets you see who is at the door from your chair.
– In-home care
Depending on their level of need, your relative could benefit from a live-in or daily carer. They can help with getting in and out of bed, washing and dressing, preparing meals and transport. Where necessary they can provide qualified nursing care. If their needs change, this type of care can be flexible enough to meet them.
– Sheltered housing
Downsizing to sheltered accommodation offers your relative a way to live independently in a safe environment. There are support staff on duty and emergency help is available 24 hours a day. This type of housing usually has communal areas to mix with other residents and outings and social events are sometimes organised.
Types of Care Home
If, after looking at the available options, you have decided that your relative’s needs will be best served in a care home, you need to consider the type of care that is required. The care needs assessment will guide you in this.
– Residential care home
A residential care home should provide assistance with personal care. According to the resident’s needs, help with washing, dressing, using the toilet and taking medication among others will be available. Some care homes organise outings and activities.
– Nursing care home
In addition to personal care, a nursing home will have qualified nursing staff to provide medical care.
– Dementia Care
Residents suffering from dementia require specialist care, and the care homes that provide this service are designed specially to create an environment that is both safe and comfortable.
– Dual-registered care homes
Some care homes are registered both for residents who only need personal care and those needing nursing care. This is advantageous for a resident who initially only requires personal care and won’t have to move home if they later need nursing care.
Paying for Care
Your relative may be eligible for assistance with paying for a care home, depending of the value of their assets and savings. A financial assessment will be carried out by the council, free of charge, and that will decide if the care needs to be self-funded, a contribution made towards it, or entirely paid for by the council. There is a maximum amount the council will pay, but if you choose a more expensive care home you will have to top up the difference.
Choosing the Care Home
When it comes to actually choosing a care home you should make a shortlist of those that fit your budget and provide the required level of care. In and around Bath, the CQC website lists 40 within a five-mile radius with 27 rated as “good”. Increasing the radius to 15 miles gives 341 results of varying standards.
You can read care home websites and brochures to see what facilities are offered. But the only way to really get a real feel for a place is to visit and talk to the management and staff. If possible, get recommendations from people who have experience of the home.
When Things Go Wrong
Most care homes provide an excellent standard of care and taking care to choose the right one for your relative should see them safe and comfortable. Unfortunately, things occasionally do go wrong.
If you suspect that your relative has suffered from injury or neglect while staying in care home, gather as much evidence as you can and seek further advice from specialist care home legal experts, or online at Accidentclaims.co.uk, for further guidance.
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