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What to look for when visiting a care home?

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by distant-son, Feb 13, 2015.

  1. distant-son

    distant-son Registered User

    Feb 13, 2015

    My Dad has multiple myeloma (a cancer) as well as early stage Alzheimers. I'm an only child, live a few hundred miles away and Dad's been on his own for the last two years after Mum died and has refused to consider a move. No other relatives live close, his brother lives further away than I do and his sister lives in the US (she also has Alzheimers and is in a care home).

    For a while now (due to his inability to get around the house, remember to eat/drink and remember to take his meds) he's had carers in twice a day to assist. The carers and the care coordination team have been excellent, no complaints there. Recently visits increased to 4 times a day as the cancer returned, his weight dropped, kidneys started to fail and the memory problems got worse, from that point the writing was on the wall.

    I visited last weekend, and he didn't look too good. On Wednesday his doctor visited and to my great surprise Dad agreed with the doctor's recommendation that he needed to go into a care home, although I suspect he views this as a temporary measure. The local social services managed to get him into a place the same day.

    I'm now going down to see him for a couple of days, to try and gauge his mood, bring him some things from his house that'll hopefully make him feel a little more relaxed and check out the care home to see if it's suitable. And this is where I hope this forum can help.

    What do I look for in a good care home? I've taken a look at the CQC report and they rate it as "good" and record improvements over their previous visit. The home is for people aged 65+ with the sort of problems my Dad has. But are there any signs I should look for when visiting?

    Many Thanks People

  2. CaringDaughter

    CaringDaughter Registered User

    Sep 22, 2013
    #2 CaringDaughter, Feb 13, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2015
    Age UK have some information on what to look for in a care home:

    See how welcoming they are if you turn up unexpectedly. Ask if there are other relatives you can talk to 'to get advice'.
    Remember to label everything you take in - it won't stop it getting 'lost' but it may help if it's found.

    Of course there's some info on this site:

    Good luck
  3. Palmer22

    Palmer22 Registered User

    Feb 13, 2015
    Hi there.

    I work in a care home which is on of the best ones in the essex area.
    -I think the main things to look for are genuine staff
    -As much space as possible, separate room, separate lounge, separate dining room etc
    -A nice garden, even the best of us need some good fresh air to clear the mind.
    -Also the activities that they do, i know in my place we have a morning activity and an afternoon activity, every day all week with a huge variety, individuals can choose to join in they wish, i think from my experience this really help their mind and mood.
    -Also the overal CQC rating

    I hope this helps

  4. jan.s

    jan.s Registered User

    Sep 20, 2011
    Hi. I'm sorry to hear about your dad. If you can convince him to go into a care home for a "short stay", he will get used to living there and not look to leave.

    My advice on looking for a care home is to look at the staff and the way they speak to the residents. Are they polite and respectful? Do the carers interact with them or are they playing on their phone or watching the TV?

    How well kept do the residents look? Are they clean and well presented. Are the men shaved and is their hair brushed and tidy?

    Is there a nasty smell in the care home? There is no excuse for that.

    Is the home clean? Do the residents have their own room with ensuite facilities? (That may be important to your dad for privacy)

    Whilst nice surroundings are pleasant, I consider the quality of the care to be vital.

    Good luck
  5. distant-son

    distant-son Registered User

    Feb 13, 2015
    Thanks for the advice, very helpful.

    Visited Dad a couple times over the weekend, he's unhappy being in there but the staff are treating him well, are aware of his needs and he seems to like them. The home is bright with plenty of room to eat, watch TV, read in peace or sit in the conservatory.

    We spent most of each visit happily watching the rugby together, with him occasionally getting very depressed about his situation and blaming me for it ("why have you locked me away here?") before returning to normal conversion.

    Of course, it was his decision to go in but he doesn't remember that now. Very sad but I think he's in the right place for now and I guess I'm going to have to get used to him occasionally telling me what a disappointment I am to him :-(

    If there's any upside to this at all, it's that the cancer looks like finishing him off before the Alzheimers completely robs him of who he is. I know that sounds harsh but he's expressed his wish to die on a number of occasions, never really got over Mum's death.
  6. Kevinl

    Kevinl Registered User

    Aug 24, 2013
    Just pretend you're one of The Hotel Inspectors like on the TV. Smell is the fist one that normally hits you seems like wee and overpowering disinfectant are the usual not good signs, is it clean if it was a hotel would you stay there, staff do the make eye contact or glance at you then go back to chatting about corrie with their mates and are they all the office or are they out and about?
    It really is about picking up the vibes (as us aging hippies say) more than anything else you can get a feel for what the place is like just by looking and listening and using common sense.
    As I say just think like it's a hotel and your going to stay there if it's like Fawlty Towers then tell social services and see what they can do about it, getting him somewhere in 1 day is either incredibly lucky or possibly a bad sign as a lot of the better places have waiting lists.
  7. elizabet

    elizabet Registered User

    Mar 26, 2013
    From my experience of being in a similar situation I visited 4 local care homes in the area where my Mother lived unannounced which was quite an interesting experience -at one the manager told me to come back on the Monday as she was going off shift -needless to say I did not go back there. At another the residents were all sitting /dozing in the lounge with the TV blaring out although non seemed to be watching, little evidence of staff being around.
    Follow your gut instinct -ask yourself would you like to stay there -how the staff interact with you and the residents is very important - observe meal times if you can -what is the food like , are the residents given adequate time to eat -
    ask questions - e.g what is the staff ratio to residents at night , what security measures are in place,
    all the best, it is a difficult decision to make but hopefully your dad will be safe .

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