Things to Consider When Choosing a Care Facility for an Elderly Relative *

Jenny Marston with a very informative and helpful post for families of elderly relatives who are considering going into a home. It is a challenge to find the right balance of care, independence and compatibility. At this crossroads in someone’s life it is important to have input from family as it is a major decision and once committed to the move, it is difficult to go back to independent living again. I do recommend that you head over and read if you have elderly relatives or bookmark for when you might need to make the decision for yourself.

Jenny in Neverland

#AD None of us want to think about our parents getting older or our grandparents or elderly relatives going into care homes but unfortunately that is the nature of time and of life and there probably will come a day when we may have to consider those options for our loved ones. Goodness me, that was an awfully bleak way to start a post but I’m not one to beat around the bush. People get old. And some may need that extra help and assistance in their golden years.

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17 thoughts on “Things to Consider When Choosing a Care Facility for an Elderly Relative *

  1. Excellent post! Former care home manager, practitioner and trainer – now specialist inspector just wading in to add a few thoughts on choosing the right home for you and your loved ones.

    It’s preferable to call and find out what times of day are best avoided for a drop in look around i.e. early mornings, evenings and mealtimes are best avoided purely because it’s the time of day staff are needed most to assist people and you’d be either made to wait and feel unwelcome and / or take someone away from a much needed job.

    I welcomed anyone and everyone out of those times and without appointment. If we were super busy I’d show visitors where the tea, coffee, biscuits and cake were so they could get themselves a drink whilst we’re able to come back and chat.

    You should be made to feel welcome and greeted by friendly faced staff. If you meet grumpy carers that can’t be arsed opening the door to you never mind anything else they’re unlikely to be the ideal people to care for someone that needs a huge level of time and patience.

    Make sure the home is able to care for a loved one throughout the remainder of their life and doesn’t have a cut off point where they can no longer provide care. Not sure how it works outside of the UK but retirement villages are notoriously expensive and very unfair to the point of cruel when someone’s needs inevitably require more support.

    If you decide on a trial make sure the home completes a full, through assessment with you and asks about their personal likes, dislikes, hobbies, background and wants to find out as much as possible about them prior to your loved one needing care.

    First thing I did / do when assessing people at home is sit myself down with a brew and literally go “OK tell me all about yourself. What did you do for a living? What do you like doing in your spare time or what would you like to do still?”

    It’s crucial the home pays attention to who people were as much as their current health and medical info. Music has always been a bit thing for me and I’ve encouraged people that learned and loved to play instruments to continue for as long as they can.

    Sometimes first appearances aren’t everything and from experience I’ve found the smaller homes that look a bit dated and even “tatty” for want of a better word often tend to be the best in terms of offering personal 1-1 care. Homes with old 1940’s dressers, a budgie chattering away and old fashioned teapots and trays often mean residents are encouraged to bring in personal items and make the home their own – which it is.

    I’ve visited brand new multi-million pound purpose built homes that were decked out like 5 star hotels and knew instantly it was all about appearances and less about the people living there. One went into special measures at its first inspection.

    If you’re not encouraged to be an active part in continuing for your loved one but without pressure, be cautious. I trained staff as well as managed them and emphasised that for some people seeing a loved one deteriorate is too hard to bear and they can’t face regular visits or handle the guilt they feel. There’s no need to feel guilt of course but it’s natural to have that feeling and shy away from visits for fear of being judged.

    I get around it by feeling out each person’s circumstances and at the first hint of a guilt complex or relative that loves their Mum or Dad but thinks going into care will end their relationship, I get them on board and casually ask if they fancy giving us a hand one day for things like arts, crafts or other activities. When they’re obviously keen and relieved to be involved they get jobs like paid carers.:D

    Never let anyone make you feel judged and never worry that you’ve failed a loved one or are doing the wrong thing. I’ve worked in community care, residential, nursing and dementia care for 20yrs or so and know from experience how incredibly hard the job is. I couldn’t do it without the support of other staff it’s the hardest most difficult job on the planet bar none.

    Last but not least, never be afraid to ask and share any worries you have with the manager and staff. Most will welcome you with open arms, alleviate your worries on the spot and if you’re really unfortunate, they’ll rope you into the laundry a few mornings a week.

    Lost count of how many people we still had regularly visiting and “working” for us long after their loved one had died but again, that was always important to me. Losing a loved one leaves a huge void so keeping those left behind active and involved with something they feel is worthwhile plays a huge part in our job overall.

    Love and best wishes to all 😀

    Liked by 3 people

  2. *The ladies fighting with sticks – can’t always be helped I’m afraid but it’s one of those things that keeps you on your toes. We had two gents that disliked each other like you would not believe. Both had electric wheelchairs and engaged in full blown Clint Eastwood style Mexican standoff’s in the corridors sometimes. Just stubborn sods and would not back down.

    I ended up “Right chaps that’s it – I’m calling time on this one. You’re blocking the doorway, there are people trying to get past and I’m dying for the loo so move it along. You can saddle up your horses and pick it up somewhere else but right now it’s tea-break” 😀

    Liked by 3 people

      • Honestly it’s one of the best jobs in the world and at the risk of sounding like I’m being disrespectful (not in the slightest) it’s the most fun and rewarding too. Very challenging at times and needs a certain type of person with thick skin, a good sense of humour and the ability to roll with the punches and take things at face value and adapt to whatever happens as it happens.

        The gents with the stand-off oh my days. Literally sought each other out too – they threw fruit at each other one lunchtime after one said he didn’t want a banana because it wasn’t ripe enough. That said the other chap off “Oh give over complaining and belly-aching!!!” and because they were at opposite ends of the dining room with wheelchairs locked on the brakes, out came the fruit and there we are ducking and catching it mid-air “Oi!! You two pack it in!!! PUT THE FRUIT DOWN!!!”

        We all have our quirks, traits and temperaments I’m the worst and will undoubtedly drive someone utterly crackers if I live to be a ripe old age but as long as we keep everyone safe and the fruit fights and wheelchair wars to a minimum I think we’ve done OK.


  3. Both my parents are dead so I approach this issue from the other end – I’m 66 and in good health, but one day I won’t be. What then?

    Here in Australia we’ve had some terrifying exposes of what goes on, even in expensive facilities, once the resident reaches a certain level of dependence. The worst treatment seems to occur with dementia [Alzheimers] patients. I can understand how staff might find aggressive or non-responsive patients /difficult/ to care for, but that can never excuse the level of abuse that occurs. Worse, staff in these facilities often receive the barest minimum of training – for general aged care, not specialist dementia care.

    Meanwhile, the care facilities are raking in huge fees from patient families. There is an element of callous disregard in this business model: get ’em in, fleece ’em for all they’re worth, make sure they don’t ‘stay’ for long. 😦

    It’s horrible, and one of my worst fears is that one day I’ll end up in a place like that. 😦

    Liked by 2 people

    • I am with you on that. I am 66 too and I think that most countries have problems with maintaining standards in care homes. My mother was nearly 95 when she died and I was with her for the last 6 years as she was definitely not care home material. Especially when slightly dotty in her last couple of years. That is why dementia is my worst nightmare too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • -hugs- Yeah. There /are/ wonderful places that provide genuine ‘care’ along with respect, but they’re few and far between. Let’s hope things change for the better before we have to go down that path.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Sorry I forgot to add – can’t recommend Teepa Snow enough to anyone either caring for a loved one with dementia or looking at the prospect of needing care in the future. She is one of the best, most outstanding trainers and genuine advocates for dementia care.

    Language can be choice so heads up if you don’t care for the odd swear word but she’s funny and hits the nail on the head for most people that meet and see her during a training session or presentation.

    Including links to the “Common issues with dementia” and another to letting someone go when it’s time.


  5. My husband and I are now aging parents, so we took it upon ourselves to do the searching and are now on the wait list for a retirement community with medical facilities – not ready to go yet, but the wait lists at these places are really long in this area, so best to get on one early!

    Liked by 1 person

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