searching for a care home

Discussion in 'ARCHIVE FORUM: Support discussions' started by dianesw, Jan 28, 2008.

  1. dianesw

    dianesw Registered User

    Jan 28, 2008
    stoke on trent
    My mum was diagnosed with alzheimers a year ago, in the past 12 months she has deteriorated very quickly. She is currently living in sheltered accomodation that has 24hr carers but during the last few weeks her changes in her behavour have meant the carers can no longer give her the care she needs and have asked for myself and my brothers to look for a secure home for her. I feel very guilty about putting her in a home and finding it difficult to get my mum to understand why she can no longer stay where she is. Does anyone have any suggestions on how I can make the move for my mum easier? and what should I be looking for when I visit residential homes.
    Many thanks
  2. sue38

    sue38 Registered User

    Mar 6, 2007
    Wigan, Lancs
    Hi Diane,

    I have no experience of finding a care home as we are not yet at that stage with my Dad although getting closer every day.

    Have you seen this fact sheet?

    It may help, and I'm sure other members who have personal experience can give you tips on what to look for and how to try and ease the move.
  3. jks

    jks Registered User

    Jul 2, 2005
    West Yorkshire
    Hi There,
    I have spent the last weekend visiting care homes - this is where I started:

    You can search by area, by type of care required, and you can view the reports on line. I found it excellent.

    There may be other starting points, but this worked for me!

    Good Luck,
  4. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    Dear Diane.

    It`s no fun looking for a home or trying to persuade a parent that one is necessary. I can only suggest you tell her how worried you are about her living by herself and want he to be better looked after and have more companionship.

    It sounds a bit feeble even as I write it, but if the carers have suggested it, the time must be right.

    Good luck

    Love xx
  5. dianesw

    dianesw Registered User

    Jan 28, 2008
    stoke on trent
    care homes

    I have looked around 6 homes so far and find them all rather depressing, In some of the homes I found the residents sitting in chairs around the lounge not talking. Although the homes do show us a list of activites I have not witnessed anything going on in 5 of the homes.
    I am seriously looking at 1 that does seem very friendly but will go and visit another couple of times before making a final decision. just got the problem on how to move my mum, she has already told the social worker she is staying where she is!!

  6. Brucie

    Brucie Registered User

    Jan 31, 2004
    near London
    Residents at homes where the main concern is dementia will not sit around talking, generally. The staff may make a conscious effort to talk to the residents and this is a thing to look out for.

    In my Jan's home, any talking is likely to be one sided and not what one might term a conversation.

    Perhaps her home, which caters for moderate to advanced cases, is at the far end of the spectrum, but conversation is an exception, not the rule.

    Likewise entertainments/activities. These depend on the ability of the residents to benefit. Even in homes for advanced cases activities do happen, but if one walks in at a particular time of day, it is unlikely that the visit will coincide with anything going on. Worth checking whether activity timings are posted up. Ask the manager and different staff what is arranged. See if they agree.....

    Main things I check are staff and the way they relate to the residents, general presentation of the place, state of the bedrooms, bathrooms etc.

    Finally that indefinable "this place just seems wrong" or "this place seems right". The trouble is if it is the latter and there is no space and/or no funding.

    It is never easy. I understand that the Alzheimer's Society has something coming out shortly that might help.
  7. germain

    germain Registered User

    Jul 7, 2007

    I second Brucie's post - go with your instincts if you can.
    Our Mum was also in a care flat with 24/7 carers on hand if needed.

    We went to visit every single home within our wider area and altho' there were some which seemed OK - the one we chose was the one where we walked in and said "this is it" - it wasn't the fanciest or the poshest but it had the most welcoming atmosphere and lovely staff.

    Activities can be developed for the future if residents can join in. ( although our Mum not only won't join in but tries to spoil them for others now !)

    Appreciate what you say about your Mum saying she will not move - but if her place is anything like our Mums was , she may have signed a contract which allows them to "evict" her to a safer place ( CH or NH )if things get too much . I know evict is a strong word to use but you know what I mean.

    All the best

  8. Skye

    Skye Registered User

    Aug 29, 2006
    SW Scotland
    I agree completely with Bruce's post. Activities have to be tailored to the needs of the patient.

    Patients in John's home do not talk to each other, they've all retreated into their own little world. But they do get individual attention, from the staff and from the activities co-ordinator. And they do respond to attention. But group activities don't work.

    In John's home there is always a notice with the day's activities and timings prominently displayed in the entrance hall. There is always time allocated for 'one-to-ones'. They often have a musician in, too, and it's amazing how people not usually responsive light up and move their feet in time to the music.

    If you don't see any activities going on, don't be afraid to ask!

    As for the rest, as others have said, go with your gut instinct, it works every time!
  9. sony

    sony Registered User


    Just regarding this CSCI website....does anyone know if you can access inspection reports for Nursing Homes in Northern Ireland anywhere online? I've tried that website but it doesn't seem to do NI....any halp would be greatly appreciated.


  10. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006

    I don`t know if this link will help. I haven`t read it all, but thought it might be worth a look.
  11. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority are the people that perform the inspection role that csci does in England

    However - they do not have a service provider search at the moment (it says "coming soon")

    It says

    Service provider directory

    RQIA holds comprehensive up to date information on all registered health and social care services in Northern Ireland including Nursing Homes, and Residential Care Homes . Our inspection reports are publicly available to help to guide your decision when selecting an appropriate care home for your needs.
    We are currently developing an online directory that will allow you to search for these homes by name, care category, geographical area, and postcode. Copies of individual inspection reports for each home will also be available online.

    We also hold details on:

    Children's Homes
    Nursing Agencies
    Independent healthcare providers including independent hospitals and clinics, and private doctors
    Should you require any information on any of these services, please click here, or call RQIA on (028) 9051 7500

    So it looks as if you'll have to call them for info.
  12. sony

    sony Registered User

    Thanks Sylvia and Jennifer....

    Sony :)
  13. dianesw

    dianesw Registered User

    Jan 28, 2008
    stoke on trent
    Many thanks for all or your replies. They have been a great help. I am going to have another look around 1 of the care homes this weekend and am sure I will now see it in a different light.

  14. jks

    jks Registered User

    Jul 2, 2005
    West Yorkshire
    I tried to focus on the things that Dad still finds important and enjoys - like food.:) The home we have settled on for respite care has good plain homecooked food, with the veg and some fruit from the owners allotment....what my Dad calls 'gravy dinners and puddings with custard'.
    It may not be a major point in the grand scheme of things, but I know that to Dad, it's important.

    He goes in there tomorrow, for, initially, a week or two respite care. If he likes it and settles, then he won't be coming home. If he doesn't....well, I guess it's back to the drawing board!
  15. CoJo

    CoJo Registered User

    Jan 29, 2008
    Hi Diane,
    I have just recently gone through this process. Like one of the others suggested, I looked at the Commission for Care Home Standards website and searched by area.
    You can download their reports, which I used as a starting point to trigger questions when I visited the homes that I had short listed.
    I also took a friend with me, who is quite blunt and doesn't mind asking 'awkward' questions! I found it really useful to have a second opinion on the homes we visited. I found it is quite good to ask the staff what they thought 'they do well' and what they thought 'they could do better' the responses were quite varied.
    Like Brucie said, I also think you can just 'get a feeling' for a place. Some of the Commission reports were glowing, but the reality was not what I expected. We actually have a nursing home in the village, and their report was excellent, but when I visited I found it too large and impersonal. Also, check what staff turnover there might have been, if the reality is a lot different from your expectations.
    The last year has been pretty bad (split with my partner after 8 years, gave up work to be full-time carer, and have had some real lows with Dad), but having done the leg-work I feel I have been lucky to find an excellent home for Dad, and am probably one of the few people who don't feel too bad about putting him in a home. Dad has recently been for respite there (first break in 2 years) and really seemed to flourish, so we are just waiting for top-up fees to be sorted out.
    If you haven't already started sorting the financial side of things, then I urge you to get this underway while you are looking, because it can be quite a lengthy procedure in my experience.
    I understand your feelings about guilt and I'm sure I will feel really bad when Dad actually makes the move. No matter how bad things get at home with him, I know I'm going to miss him.
    Hope you mamage to find somewhere that you feel ok about - good luck!
  16. Margaret W

    Margaret W Registered User

    Apr 28, 2007
    North Derbyshire

    We went through this 6 months ago, and if I knew then what I know now, I would do it totally differently. I would certainly do a lot more investigation than I did, and not be so afraid of asking searching questions. At the end of the day, they want your custom, so don't be afraid to ask.

    Visit at least 6 or more homes. Look at areas other than the local area. Take your first reaction for refusals - do the nose test, look at the other residents (are they all there? We went to one lovely home but only ever saw 25% of the residents - where were the rest? It was not an EMI unit, just an ordinary care home). Are they all dressed in day clothes? Having eliminated 4 of the 6, visit the other two at various times. Morning, afternoon, evening, mealtimes, bedtimes. Weekend as well as during the week. We did three visits to each home. Not enough. In fact, if it had been possible, I'd have booked a room there for a week and lived there! Be a pest, tell them that you will be dropping in unannounced at times and ask if that is okay. If you have a partner/spouse, take it in turns to drop in at different times, pretend you didn't know your partner had gone that morning!

    Your social worker should advise on homes that can cope and those that can't, depending on your mum's state and preferences.

    They all say they do things, such as activities and trips out - does it really happen? Ask for a list of recent trips (i.e. last three months, you might find there was only one). Ask for evidence for everything you are interested in. Is there a weekly visit by a doctor (if so, why wasn't my mum's skin infection noticed earlier, before it became almost impossible to treat), how often does the hairdresser visit and what is the charge? Who cuts her finger nails? Who cuts her toe nails (chiropodist probably, how often does she visit, we were told every 8 weeks, we have had only one visit in 7 months - ask for records). Ask for evidence for everything.

    That all said, at the end of the day you want mum to be cared for, so paramount is the view you get of the staff. Are there enough of them? Are they in evidence around the place (ours are always in the kitchen), is the manager approachable? Do the residents seem happy, well-fed, clean, presentable? Do the staff seem caring, they will all be different, some will be jolly, some professional, some bored stiff (remember how low paid the job is). But if you get a fair mix that is good. Ask about staff qualifications, NVQs predominantly, how many have them, what level, how many are working towards them. You want most to have NVQ2, and a couple with NVQ3. NVQ4 and 5 are for management really. If you aren't familiar with NVQs, Level 3 is supposedly A-level, certainly will have been earned.

    If a resident needs the toilet, or help, is there a member of staff there in the room? Often not, sadly.

    Next, own room or shared. Most people want their own room, there is a lot to be said for it, own photos etc. Don't get carried away with own furniture unless it is important to them. Shared rooms rarely work unless the pair are friends, but there are still a lot of homes with shared rooms.

    Size of room? Mum's is too big, it was a double, we paid more for it because of that, but it isn't cosy. But the other available rooms (2) were minute.

    Location of bedroom. Do you want it to be near the night nurse station? Or near to the lounge? We are pleased that mum's is near to the lounge, she can find her way there and back easily. I never thought that would be a problem, but she is now easily disorientated if anything moves. She hasn't twigged that the dining room is on a different floor, even though she gets to it via the lift!

    Ensuite toilet is a plus, ensuite shower/bath can be a danger.

    Does the home have a shower or just baths? Mum's home only had baths till a month ago, residents got one bath a week, now the shower is installed it is one bath and one or even two showers.

    TV in room. Mum was an avid TV watcher before her admission, never watched a single programme now in 9 months. There was a tv in hospital, a tv in the home in the lounge, and she has one in her room, never been switched on. Leave out the tv until you see how she reacts.

    Phone in room. We decided against that cos mum would be phoning us in the middle of the night, regularly. Pity cos it means the girls can't phone her as they used to, well they can, but it is on the communal phone and there is never anyone to answer it, and mum can't hear it cos it is not amplified like her home phone was. Also, she now has to use a dialling code to phone us, and doesn't know what one of them is.

    Garden or outdoor facilities. Oh yes, they have a lovely garden, but staff have no time to take residents to sit in it, anyway it doesn't get any sun. Only sun is at the front, yes, they have taken residents to sit there (and provided sun hats!), but once in 7 months.

    The staff do try, they are kind, I am not worried about them, they are cheerful too, Janice is often doing a dance, Shirley is often singing, Maria is the hearing aid battery girl, they do try, but all in all the place is depressing.

    But what do you expect? My mother has been a regular churchgoer all her life. At Christmas a volunteer came from a local church to give a service - carols, a few readings, a couple of prayers. I thought mum would love it, I was well impressed. She attempted a couple of Carols, but only because I showed her the words (even though they were ones she should know off by heart), she sang the wrong words, the wrong tune, out of time. She talked about something else all the way through the readings, and didn't even manage the Lord's Prayer.

    So, Diane, I'm afraid it is "suck it and see". Some people are lucky to find a perfect home first off. But do do your research very thoroughly, see what you think is right for YOUR mum, ask for proof of what they say.

    Good luck my love,

  17. dianesw

    dianesw Registered User

    Jan 28, 2008
    stoke on trent
    update on care home

    Thank you all for your replies and advice.
    Quite alot has happened over the last couple of weeks, I went to look at several homes with my brothers and one we visited gave us that "this is the one" feeling, We were shown around by the manager who seems so caring and considerate, In the lounge there were residents and carers chatting and several of the residents were knitting blankets for the local dogs homes. My mum now spends all her time crochetering a blanket and although its getting larger by the day she still enjoys it. so I was happy to know she could carry on with her only remaining hobby. The home is having a new extension built which will add another 20 bedrooms.This will take the capacity upto 39 residents. The bedrooms are large and all have a toilet and wash basin. I arranged for the manager to come and see my mum to assess her and make sure they could meet her needs. The meeting went very well and my mum seems quite happy to move now. The manager also told my mum she could help do some baking and washing dishes etc. although this may seem trivial my mum is very keen and Im happy that they wont just let my mum sit there. My mums case will go to the funding panel in the next 2 weeks and the social worker has said there will not be a problem as me and my brothers have said we will cover the top up fee. Im taking my mum to the home in a couple of weeks to spend the morning there and have lunch and will do this a few times before she actually moves in which will probably be mid march once the extension is completed. My mum has been told she can choose whichever bedroom she prefers as she is 1st on the list to take up one of the new bedrooms. Im feeling quite happy about how its all progressing just hoping my mum will not start being awkward now and refuse to move.
    Once again many thanks
  18. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    Good news Diane. Well done. Let us know how it goes.:)

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