Registered User
Sep 27, 2006
I have been to see three EMI units in my area this week (all private and charging the earth!!) I had a visit from the Admiral nurese who suggested that Ken's consultant would only allow him out if he went into an EMI unit so I thought it best to check them out.

Each had an impressive entrance hallway, warm, welcoming and clean with a staffed reception area. Each boasted in the glossy brochure of en suite bedrooms, varied menues, rogramme of weekly activities, excellent standards of nursing care & devotion to quality - in short just exactly where you could put your loved one with confidence. Each EMI unit I visited I had checked out on the government inspection site and each had passed inspections well.

Once I was allowed past the impressive facades and through the locked doors, my utopian dream abruptly ended. They are all disgusting and should be closed down immediately. The stench of urine was unbearable; in each one, the furniture was generally very poor - torn and often filthy - the carpets were sticky underfoot and the patients all herded into one single room and judging from their general appearance, left sitting staring into space for many long hours. If Ken cannot go the EMI NURSING (not Unit) home of my choice - then I will insist that I have him back home. It was all so dreadful, sad and distressing to go round such horrid, horrid places and to think that each of those poor, poor souls was someone's beloved relative at some point in their lives. Never, never will I let Ken go to what I consider to be such poor quality conditions in which to live the rest of your life! When I think of the amount of money each week which is charged in fees, it is absolutely appalling, a scandal which I am sure must be repeated in many other towns in England. Two of the EMI units were run by well known medical companies.

I have a ten minute 'slot' tomorrow lunchtime as an 'emergency' appointment with Ken's consultant. I doubt I will move her to get things going the way I want them to go but at least I can start to sew the seeds of my deep disatisfaction with it all. Better close now.

xxxx TinaT


Registered User
Oct 9, 2003
Birmingham Hades
Hi Tina t
I can understand you being horrified by your description of the homes.
Did you check the reports?
Were they recent?
How could a home such as you describe pass an inspection?


Registered User
Sep 27, 2006
Good questions Norman. As to inspection dates, I presume the web inspection site is updated regularly. How these places pass inspection is the 100$ question I would like to know. Do the inspectors become immune to the stench as they go from place to place? The ticked boxes such as - covered radiators in all areas, handrails appropriately placed, hoists and good toilet facilities, - can't think of all the catagories would most certainly have had a tick - these things were all in place.

However, it strikes me that these inspectors, much as they have to have 'check lists' which, once ticked give the Unit an overall score, had missed out on a vital point. If (God forbid!!) they were in MY situation - would they put their hand on their hearts and say it was somewhere they would be satisfied to place their own loved one?? I did point out the stench and the sticky carpets to one person showing me round and was told that the housekeeper does her very best to keep everywhere clean ( this Unit was divided into sections but had over 12o places so I should have then asked how many staff she had who clean the place). In one unit the carpets had only just been put down in one general area so I asked if it would have been more sensible to put down some flooring which could have been regularly and more easily cleaned but was told that Company policy thought carpeting was safer to walk on.

I honestly feel that when so much money is involved in fees, then the furniture and furnishings in general rooms should be regularly renewed. We know that incontinence is a problem and that 'accidents' must happen on an hourly basis with so many residents being housed in one room but for goodness sake, they are running businesses and must allow for necessary, regular repacement of furnishings which smell so badly!!

The EMI nursing unit I have visited and which I would be satisfied for Ken to be allowed into smells very clean and is a pleasure to visit.

It strikes me that the present staffing levels in EMI units which are set by Government inspection requirements must be woefully inadequate, or - more probably - not always complied with every day. How this can be rectified is beyond me Norman but once I have got my lovely Ken properly sorted out, I will be writing to MPs etc about all this. xx TinaT


Registered User
Jun 27, 2006
I'm not categorically stating that there are no government required standards for staffing levels in these units, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to find there actually weren't. I know I've never seen any guidelines to that effect, and I have seen individual reports that imply that staffing levels are dependant on not only the specific facility but is based on the abilities of the current residents. Also, I suspect that even if there are, these regulations probably don't apply to ancilliary (i.e. cleaning staff).

I'm sorry that you had such a depressing experience and I hope the consultant listens to what you have to say.



Registered User
Jul 31, 2007
Dear Tina,
I have just read you very upsetting posting. I got a book from Social Services whitch covers every Care Home in the Area. I spent over 3 hours phoning them all. I did check and no way would I send Peter to them. Last year he had a week's respite. It turned out that Peter was the only under 65 there. Each day Peter was unhappy, so after 3 days I phoned told them to get his things packed and went and brought him home. The home was really nice but Peter should not have been with over 65 and at that time he was watching people and knowing that is how he will be one day. When I was told that Peter could not stay at home, the Consultant wanted Peter to go on to a Hospital Ward. I had our Social Worker with me and she explain that if Peter did not go to the one that Peter had been to see, I would bring him home. So the Care Home that Peter is in was opened last December. There are 22 rooms on his floor and it is like a 5 star hotel. The ratio of staff to patients is 1 - 6. It takes N.H. and private patients. They are all treated the same. I come away knowing he is well looked after 24/7. From the Manager downwards they have all become friends. I just wished you lived in the same area as me and show you just how an E.M.I. floor is run properly. I could if you like check to see if they have a Care Home in your area. Do let me know. Best wishes. Christine


Registered User
Jan 31, 2004
near London
Hi Tina

120 residents? Wow, that is huge. Jan's home has 20 plus 4 respite beds.

I have seen a few care homes around the Hampshire area and none were bad, just expensive. However none - except Jan's - were EMI.

The only place that I found similar to your description was the NHS assessment ward where Jan went. The place is divided into secure and non secure wards. It was the secure one that smelled dreadful. First time I was shown around reduced me to tears.

I am guessing that mostly it comes down to staffing levels, and the dedication of staff. In the past I have seen residents at Jan's home attempting to use the planters in the public area as a toilet, but that area has a special floor, not carpet. The rest of the place has carpet but there seem to be no accidents there.

I would say that, in that home, the mobility of residents has changed greatly over the past 3 years.

Originally there were many residents walking about, continually. Now, most are confined to special chairs because they are unsafe on their feet. This of course helps ensure that the accidents and smells don't happen.

Residents are moved regularly and there are entertainments.

As you say, homes can do it properly if the management strives for that, and they have the appropriate quality and levels of staff.

Christine's experience seems to be similar to mine.

I hope that you are able to get a place in one that satisfies you.

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
Dear Tina,

it`s a Herculean Task to find a decent home that compares to the standards of one`s own home. For this is what we`re looking for isn`t it. Somewhere comparable to `home` . Somewhere we would live ourselves if we had to.

I remember looking for homes for my mother, and it was soul destroying. The sight of all those lovely people sitting round the walls of smelly rooms filled me with dread.

But I did find a home eventually, in Radcliffe. I don`t know what it`s like now, but it was lovely then, with no bad smells, bright and cheerful furnishings and friendly staff. My mother died in 2002. If you want the name, I`ll send it to you by PM. I`m not reccommending it, but you have nothing to lose by visiting it.

I`m sorry you`ve had such an ordeal.

Love xx


Registered User
Aug 29, 2006
SW Scotland
Dear Tina, your description of the EMI unit is horrific, reminiscent of the old 'lunatic asylums', which are supposed to have been closed down. Like you, I would never have allowed John to go to a place like that.

John is going to an EMI section of a nursing home. It is a separate wing of the same building, with its own keypad entry to stop 'wanderers'. It is beautiful, all on the ground floor, and built round an enclosed private garden, with patio doors leading into it. There is no smell, the rooms (all en suite) are light and airy, and the furniture new and matching.

At the moment, I feel happy that John is going to such a lovely place. I hope I still feel the same way when he has been there for a while!

I hope you manage to get your point across to your consultant. Our loved ones deserve better than that.



Registered User
Feb 17, 2006
I am glad that I am not the only one that that felt horrified when walking to my mother to respite care home that is is divided into secure and non secure wards. on arriving out side the building I read a sigh that it is run by one of 2 know medical companies also . so thought it must be good.

god was I taken back when I walk in to the smell of urine not joking when I say that I could of done with a oxygen mask , it was sickening , flight book to go away what could I do ! but had to leave mum they . when I got back could not wait to get mum home , only thing is that mum like the place , because of the staff they where really nice to her and that a first time mum ever commented in a positive way about the staff , normally she moaning about them when she gets home . Mum must of lost her smell

downstairs was worse as in they where all cramp in to small fount room , just sitting they .

My mother did go to a really good EMI unit that really near me , social services did it as a one of as it was emergence respite and mum needs are not EMI . that was amazing with the cleanness , no smell of urine , newness of furniture , they even have a rehab swimming pool on one of the floors . its a new privet company if I can find the link shall send it to you in PM , so you can look if they one in your area
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Dave W

Registered User
Jul 3, 2005
Keep looking


sorry you've had such a grim experience. It took me two months and 17 visits to find a good home for my Mum, and the experence was very dispiriting. One home in particularly (since closed, I was glad to hear) was like something out of a Victorian nightmare, complete with aroma. But there was light at the end of the tunnel - it was just a longer walk than I expected.

The one factor Margarita touched on that I wold say is vitally important is the staff: the staff at Mum's home (which is clean and airy, and smells fine, even if everything isn't brand spanking new) have been wonderful throughout - cheerful, friendly, human and supportive to both us and Mum - who positively raves about them. (They are 'the girls' to her, even Steve!). The staff will be a very large part of your Mum's human interaction, and are the delivery of the care, concern and compassion she'll get - as long as the required facilities are there (and the box ticking should have taken care of that), the staff are a really important factor. How do they treat you, talk to you, listen to what you're saying when you visit? Are they really addressing your questions rather than selling their home to you - that's a good deciding factor.

Good luck, and keep looking, and try not to get too depressed by the search.


Registered User
Mar 11, 2007
Your posts mirrors my sentiments when looking for a home for Mum. Mum already had very advanced Alzheimer's and infact died after only7 weeks in the home. There are some truly terrible places which seem to have good inspections.

We were given a list of homes in the locality and we visited 5. The home we thought that we wanted for Mum and had the best reputation was incredibly disappointing. The entrance hall was pristine and reminded me of the bakery at a supermarket - I may be mistaken but I am sure the smell of cooking was being wafted through their air con! The coffee and biscuits on arrival were very tasty. Once we were taken to the EMI unit the stench was horrendous. Goodness knows how people managed to work long shifts there! The manageress kept telling us about the outings and the entertainers but Mum was far beyond any of that! Another home, registered for EMI, could not understand why Mum could not walk - the head nurse had no understanding at all of the ravages of Alzheimer's and just could not comprehend Mum's complex needs.

The home we finally selected for Mum was lovely. It was only one year old and the rooms were large. Yes, it did have a slight smell in the communal areas but Mum's room was always fresh and airy. The report about the home, which I read on the internet was full of failings - but their care was fantastic and I could put up with problems in the laundry as long as the care of the patient is great!!

Most importantly, the staff were very caring and really did thier best. They treated Mum with dignity at all times - their jobs are so demanding it wold be so easy for this dignity to lapse.

Finding a home is so hard

fearful fiona

Registered User
Apr 19, 2007
Dear Tina

I am so desperately sorry to read your post, how can this happen in the 21st century, I simply can't fathom it out.

All I can say is do keep looking, there are nice places out there and they don't all cost a fortune. I shortlisted four places for my Mum and Dad and they had to have an EMI facility. Interestingly, the one I thought was the nicest was the second cheapest. It wasn't the poshest, but it was clean and bright and a really happy place where I shall look forward to visiting. Just a thought, one place had such an overpowering "nice" smell I wondered if they were trying to disguise the smells rather than doing something basic about the causes.

I do wish you the best of luck, we do want our loved ones to live in somewhere that is as nice as their home - is it too much to ask?

Much love


Registered User
Sep 27, 2006
Many thanks everyone who has posted for the trouble you have taken to reply. I am off to see the Consultant in a few minutes. Do wish me luck xxx TinaT


Registered User
Mar 21, 2003
Hi Tina,

Good luck and don't give up. My experience has also been mixed. I've searched for homes in bournemouth and south west london and have found the quality very varied. Being honest the first rounds of visits where both upsetting and shocking - it's just a road I never expected to go down.

You have got to be comfortable with a home, so keep searching. I reported one of the homes that I visited to the CSCI. I wish more people would do that as they obviously didn't have a 'random' inspection looking at the report.

There are good homes out there and I must agree with the importance of good staff, particulary the staff who will be caring for the residents on a daily basis. I can live with scuffs and bad furniture if the home has a happy homely feel to it. If the staff are happy (at all levels) that says a lot about a home.

Good luck and you are not alone in your quest for somewhere special.
A lot of us have been down this road and kissed plenty of frogs.

Kindest Regards


Registered User
Sep 23, 2007
Dartmoor Devon
Hello Tina, I am so sorry to hear about your experiences and hope that there is a glimmer of hope before too long . We will be facing the search soon with Mum as the unit she is at in Reading is maximum stay 6 weeks , its an assesment unit for dementia patients . My sister and i looked at a couple EMI places a few months ago and like you, came away horrified and distressed . I wish you lots of luck , am thinking of you ,
best wishes Kate


Registered User
Sep 27, 2006
Many thanks for the enquiry Maragarita. How kind people on TP are to think of me. After discussions with the Consultant today it may be that I WILL be able to get Ken into the nursing home of my choice.

She (the Consultant) is worried about an aspect of his behaviour and is setting him a little 'test' to see how he does. He has the tendency to think other patients are me. He goes to them to try to hug them and this is why he was moved at the beginning of his hospital stay onto a male ward. He has approached male patients thinking they are me but not for a few weeks now. The consultant is going to send him to a day care facility away from the ward for 2 days a week and monitor his behaviour with the female patients there. If he does not disturb them, then he will be allowed to go to the nursing home I want!!! The Consultant pointed out that as this is the main worry she has about his behaviour it really wouldn't be solved at an EMI unit as they are also mixed male/female units.

So I will have to continue to wait as all this will take time to set up and then time to be properly monitored but it does give me hope and a bright light at the end of the very dark tunnel.

I have to add, the Consultant ( a very pretty young woman) is going on a sponsored half marathon for the Alzhiemer Society this weekend. How wonderful that is. It makes me feel quite humbled and needless to say I have sponsored her. xxx TinaT


Registered User
Jul 6, 2007
leigh lancashire
Hi TinaT,I am sorry for your experiences in viewing the homes.Like you said "accidents" do happen,however,this doesn't say much for the home if the "accidents " are not deat with immediatley.Your post re-iterated one of my posts on staffing levels.Ludicrous to say the least."Inspectors"! Well thats another post!I do hope you have success in finding a good home that is of your liking and is suitable for EMI.love and the best elainex


Registered User
Feb 17, 2006
If he does not disturb them, then he will be allowed to go to the nursing home I want!!!
I wish you the best on that issue finger cross

So I will have to continue to wait as all this will take time to set up and then time to be properly monitored but it does give me hope and a bright light at the end of the very dark tunnel
and while you are waiting it give you loads of time to find the right home for your husband :) good luck on that . they always light at the end of the tunnel, its just all the stress that sometime stop us seeing it xx

Margaret W

Registered User
Apr 28, 2007
North Derbyshire
Dear Tina, I was going to go to bed, but thought I would answer you.

We visited four supposedly "suitable" homes for my mum. I have to say that only one had a predominant smell, but it was also one where half the residents were still in their nightclothes in the afternoon, and as the manageress took us round she didn't speak to a single one of them. We went up the stairs to look at available bedrooms, and the handrail was like glue. The furniture was shabby.

My hubby and I came out and both said together "well she aint going there"!

The next home did not have any of those problems, but the majority of residents were in a much worse state than my mum and she would not have been comfortable to be with them. She would have taken herself back to the day when her mother had a stroke, and was admitted to a Geriatric Ward in the local hospital and died the next day. My mother has never forgiven herself for not moving her from the ward, she feels to this day it was the fact that everyone around her was clearly near death that killed her mother. I can't forget that.

The third home was lovely as regards furniture and furnishings. The owner told me the lounge was about to be re-carpeted but I couldn't see anything amiss with it. Problem was, it was supposed to have 25 residents and we only saw 6 of them. Where were the others? Why weren't they in the lounge? It wasn't a nursing home or any sort of special unit.

The fourth was "okay" to look at. A little shabby but not tatty. Pleasant dining room with serviettes and places properly set, but the main things was EVERY RESIDENT WAS VISIBLE (well, maybe the odd one in his or her room), but there were residents in wheelchairs, with walking frames, or with no aid at all, all fully dressed, no smell, 4 care workers in evidence enjoying a laugh while the maintenance man was putting up Fire Escape notices. I just got a feel about the place. The staff enjoyed their jobs, they got on well, the manager was amongst them having a laugh.

We visited that home 3 times. Once in a morning (the housekeeper was chatting with the residents, she only works mornings), once at lunch time - and again almost every resident was at a dining table, some with special tools to help them eat (one with aN ENORMOUS straw), and in the late afternoon when admittedly some were nodding off in chairs. But all looked clean and well presented. We were told that a new Activities Co-ordinator was due to be appointed, who would be there every afternoon, and they did trips out somewhere once a fortnight in the Community Minibus. We chose that home. We took mum to visit before we made the decision, and Janice, an extrovert Geordie made us a pot of tea and biscuits. I hasten to say that the Psychiatrist told us NOT to involve mum in the decision, but I didn't feel comfortable with that.

Well, things never quite work out as you hope. Mum didn't like it. The food was dreadful, the staff weren't nice. We took her complaints cautiously, and now, 2 months on, the food is good, the staff are lovely, several rooms have been redecorated, the stairs now have nosings, the chandeliers have had their six-monthly clean, the dining room has new furniture (the lounge had recently had new chairs), 2 more staff have completed their NVQ3 in Care, but the community minibus has only managed one trip so far. But there was a garden party in August to celebrate the Home's 10th birthday, the lady mayor attended, it was held indoors cos it was raining, there was an entertainer and a glass of champagne for everyone.

So, Tina, what I am saying is keep looking. There ARE homes that are good, this one ain't the Ritz, there are faults, do the "nose test" first and walk out if it fails (this home has its share of incontinent residents, and two I have seen who get their afternoon cuppa and immediately tip it onto the carpet - but still no smell), look at the condition of the residents, are they dressed in day clothes, are there enough staff around (sometimes they go for a cuppa and a chat, so visit at different times of day), 1-6 is a good ratio, even 1-8 isn't bad, see how the staff interact with each other, do they regard it just as a mundane job to earn a wage or do they appear to enjoy it? How do they interact with the manager or Senior care worker. If it is a decent home, they will all have been there for a couple of years, and get on well. Happy staff is a sign of good management. And good management means happy residents.

Well, that is my take.

Do keep up hope. You will find somewhere. It might not have to be in mum's home town. In some ways that can be better, cos with AZ too many memories with home can create problems themselves. Mum is now quite detached from her old life, though there is one friend I'd like to take to visit her.

Good luck