Choosing a care home is about much more than the location and what the home looks like; it’s about the community.
Just because you need extra assistance doesn’t mean you don’t get to build friendships and enjoy activities too! Here are our top things to consider when you are looking for a care home.
- Consider Your Care Needs
- Make a list of your medical conditions and how they may impact your life within five or ten years. This will help you know what type of care services you need. Investigate who is responsible for your wellbeing and how often they check on you. As you age, you may need considerable attention to ensure you take your medication and are well-hydrated. Find out if they have onsite medical assistance like a nurse or if all staff are trained in first aid. Does the care home book regular appointments with doctors, opticians, podiatrists, and dentists to ensure the health of their residents? Some will assist you in booking your own; others will have a health care professional visit the care home to get all the residents checked at the same time.
It can be really difficult to get a balance of privacy and having assistance on hand. When you first decide to move to a care home, you may want as much privacy as possible. If that is the case, you may want to look for a care home with standalone rooms or bungalows and the option to change accommodation type when you need increased assistance. Find out how the assistance needs are evaluated and if they will consult you and your family. Also, research the costs of both options.
Does the home offer common rooms and places where residents can socialise with each other and guests? Hopefully, you will make some great friends amongst the residents, and you will want to spend some time outside of structured activities talking or pursuing common interests together. Look at the common areas of the care homes when you research them or visit them and see what options they have. Find a care home with outside spaces where you can enjoy a leisurely walk and indoor rooms with books or games. Sometimes it's nice not to have to yell over a game of bingo if you want to have a conversation!
Exercise keeps our minds and bodies healthy, so if you are young and able enough to exercise, the care home should have facilities that allow you to do so. Some care homes offer specialist yoga classes, aqua aerobics, or other low impact activities in their schedule. Of course, if you don’t like exercise, it is important to find a care home where physical activity won’t be forced upon you! This goes for all activities, while staff should encourage you to try new things and meet new people, you shouldn’t be forced to do anything that you are not interested in. You are still a human being with likes and dislikes, after all!
Plenty of Activity Options
Research the activities that are on offer at each potential care home. Is there a mix of creative, fun, and interesting activities? Do they offer outings so that you can visit new places? Many care homes will have visiting musicians, and guest classes worked in with their other activities and classes. You should look for a care home where you can learn new skills and have fun.
Another important thing to consider is whether you will have enough free time. Just because there are activities doesn’t mean you should be participating in things at all hours of the day. There should be plenty of time for you to relax with a book, watch a movie, or take a nap if you want to. When visiting a care home to see if you like it, ask them about free time and if residents are encouraged to spend time alone as well.
Find out what the care home policy is for family visits. Can your family visit you at any time? Can they sign you out and take you for lunch or a day out? Find a care home that encourages family to visit as much as possible or hosts mixers and activity days with family. Also, look into what their policy is about updating family, especially when your faculties start to go. Your family will appreciate regular updates on your health and happiness if they are unable to see you often.
If you have a partner and are looking to move into a care home together, this will be an important criterion. Will they allow you to have a double room so you can spend time together as a couple? This will allow you to retain more autonomy over your space and truly feel at home. Ask about the bedding situation and if you can request twin or a double bedding depending on your preference. If you are choosing a care home as a couple, look closely at the rooms. It will be beneficial to have a little more room to move about if there are two of you.
If you have pets, you need to look into the care home’s pet policy. Will they let your furry friend move in with you? If not, will they let your pets visit with family, so you can still see your beloved animal? Look at the services they offer your pets, as some care homes are more pet friendly than others. Some care homes offer dog walking and vet transport, while others will only allow pets if the resident can care for their pets themselves.
Perhaps one of the most important points on the list, are the meals good? Ask to see samples of the menus and look at the options they offer. See if they can accommodate dietary requirements or medically restricted diets if your circumstances change. Talk to current residents and find out if the meals taste good and what the portion size is like. You will be paying a lot of money for the care home; you should at least enjoy the food!