It does seem like a very steep learning curve at first!
It would be helpful to have a little more information, in particular whether your mum would be self-funding or LA-funded. Has there been an assessment of what type of home would be most suitable eg residential/with dementia/nursing/EMI etc? Is your mum at home now or in hospital? Has she been assessed for CHC or FNC funding?
You could start anyway with the CQC website which allows you to search for homes in a geographical area or with your local council's website; ours has a care services directory with their own quality rankings. That was how we put together a shortlist of places to consider. Then we emailed for brochures, contracts, fees information etc and based on those results identified the ones we thought were worth a visit.
We have just had to put our mum in a home. She was in hospital so we had to have a Best Interest meeting with the ward staff, hospital social worker and CPN. Mum was deemed to need an EMI residential (Elderly Mentally Infirm).
The social worker gave us a list of local homes with vacancies and we spent a day going round to them without an appointment and decided which one we liked.
mum is self funding so we contacted the home we liked and the manager went and visited mum and made her own assessment.
She agreed to take mum, the hospital arranged transport and off she went.
She has been there a month. We are in shock as she seems to like it there and has not asked to come home.
It was emotionally difficult and worrying but seeing her settled and safe is brilliant.
I'm trying to look for residential care for my Aunt at the moment.
I've been going to www.carehome.co.uk
Just select an area then select residential care and all the care homes will come up in order of those with most recommendations.
I check that the care home caters for those with Alzheimer's then I click on the map to see the location, then I go to the care inspectorate report which should be available to click at the bottom of the page. There is also a link to the CIR from the care homes own website.
The important thing is to look for the grades which are near the beginning of the report. If they are all good or above then I make a note of the contact number so I can give the care home a ring to ask for prices, etc.
I have found six residential ch's in the locations needed that cater for those with Alzheimer's at grade good or above. Once I've phoned them I'll read the CIR in full for each home that I'm considering. Each report is approximately 33 pages long. The information on the report is really helpful in giving an insight into how the care home operates and any issues that may have come up.
Hope this helps.
The web is a useful place to start, but dont just go on the report - go and see it for yourself. Often the places that are expensive and look wonderful on paper are not always the the best for your loved one.
The thing that takes priority for me is how the staff treat the residents. Are they patient and compassionate? How do they talk to them? Are they dementia trained? Do they allow the residents to wander around and "help" where they can? One of the ladies at mums CH is obsessed with cleaning, so she is given a duster and "helps" the care workers and when the tea trolly is brought round one or two residents are usually nobbled to help carry the cups to less able residents and hand round the biscuit tin.
What does the CH smell like? If it smells of urine - avoid.
Look to see what the food is like. Is it well cooked and appetising? Another poster suggested finding out where the food comes from to gauge the quality - a good idea. In mums CH food is cooked from scratch. They tend to do old fashioned recipes - meat and 2 veg or onion tart and puddings with custard, for example - the sort of thing they would remember from their youth.
Talk to the care workers there. You can work out from what they say whether it is a happy place or not. If you get evasive answers there may be issues that the managers arent facing up to (although you may have asked something that the person doesnt know the answer to)
Are there any conditions or behavior problems that the home would not be able to deal with? Some CH, although they advertise as dealing with dementia, cant cope with things like being resistant to personal care, or wandering at night - both of which are common symptoms of dementia. Would they be able to care into the final stages? You may want to go for a home that has limitations, but its good to know in advance. Personally, I would not like to have to move mum again.
Finally, and this is a personal comment, because I know its slightly contentious, but I wouldnt be put off if it looks slightly scruffy, so long as it is clean. If it looks pristine I wonder whether people are putting their efforts into keeping up appearances, rather than to the residents. I always feel uncomfortable in a home that looks like a show home anyway. But this is just my opinion.
I looked at 16 dementia care/nursing homes for Dad, he is self funding so once we arrived at what his budget would allow I applied the following to each:
* Look over recent and previous CQC report to get a feel initially, anything noted or required improvement, have steps been taken to improve.
* Always arrive unannounced, a good home will never mind and will probably expect it.
* My criteria beyond price - look and listen, do all the staff seem kind and caring, do staff stay a long while or is there always turnover, does the home have a 'person centred' approach, interacting and respectful with residents, are they safe, do they seem looked after, are the ancilliary staff polite and respectful. I never minded being kept waiting because I could watch and listen and in a few instances had seen enough in 5 mins to know it wasn't the home for our dear dad.
* Passing urine smells ok but overpowering urine smell not.
* Guage whether the manager and staff have a 'can do flexible' attitude rather than a rigid 'this is how we do it' one.
* I gave a scenario of dad's behaviour and ask the manager how they would handle it, gives you an insight into their understanding of dementia or in some cases, lack of.
* Look beyond the material - a home needs to be functional and it should be in decent repair but if the above criteria are satisfied then a little 'tired' isn't so important.
* Some homes although saying they took all dementia stages, clearly couldn't handle some types of moderate behaviour, they cherry picked early or very compliant behaviour so check they are capable and understanding of the later stages so the home can take the sufferer to end of life.
* Remember your final decision may be a compromise probably no one home will answer or provide everything in an ideal world.
* My local council (Kent) provided a very good directory of all providers and checklists of things to ask and look for.
Good luck, it is daunting and tbh a little depressing but stay focused you will soon pick up on looking for things important to you and will get a feel for which homes are suitable and which are not.