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Choosing a care home

Published: 31 May 2021
Time to read: 5 mins

While a diagnosis of Dementia doesn’t necessarily mean you need to consider moving into a care home, it is worth reflecting on how your care needs may change over time. Depending on the diagnosis, part of your consideration may include whether or not a care home environment is the most suitable place to stay, which raises the question – how do you choose the right care home for you?

  1. Assessment of needs

The first step in arranging any care (whether at home or elsewhere) is an assessment of your care needs.  This is arranged by the local authority and is intended to establish what support you require and whether home, supported housing, residential or nursing care offers the best level of support.

It can be difficult to navigate the assessment and the process can be challenging for both you and your family. Where residential or nursing care is the only option, we hope this brief guide will assist in providing a clear path forward. You may wish to look at an independent website such as Care Information Scotland for further information.

  1. Discuss the options

It is important to talk through the options with family and friends before shortlisting any care homes. This will help focus on what is important to you, your family and friends, what you feel is essential to your daily life, and what would be desirable.

Any discussion is likely to create a picture of your ideal care home and how the new home will meet these needs – this could involve weighing up factors such as location, facilities, cultural and spiritual needs as well as providing the specialist dementia care you need.

Use existing relationships with health professionals – such as doctors, carers or occupational therapists, to talk over your immediate care needs and how they may change in the future.

As you move through the process, additional questions and ideas will arise, but it is good to know as soon as possible what the main criteria are.

  1. Seek out dementia friendly services

As some forms of dementia are degenerative, it is worth bearing in mind that while you are considering a home and its services for now, it must also be suitable for the future.

This is especially true if you have multiple long term conditions and dementia is just one of the factors to be taken into account with your care.  The more dementia friendly services and expertise you can identify in a potential home, the better suited this will be for your future needs.

Examples of activities and facilities you may wish to look for include:

  • Staff who are trained to care for people with dementia
  • Plenty of navigation aids to guide the residents throughout the home
  • Décor with warm and strong colours, including contrasts which clearly define the floor, walls and doors
  • Memory box sessions
  • Light gardening
  1. Create a shortlist

With an established list of needs, you can begin to consider suitable care providers. Care services directories can be found online, allowing you to filter by location and specialist support.

During this process, make sure you dive deeper than the care home website. In Scotland, care home inspection reports are available from the Care Inspectorate website. This will provide insight into the level and quality of care offered. Once you have found a care home you consider suitable, we recommend you register interest as there is often a waiting list.

  1. Speak to people and visit

It is a good idea to speak to other people you know who may have experience of the care homes you have shortlisted. Your local carers centre may also be able to put you in touch with people who have a family member in the home.

Due to the COVID pandemic, it may be difficult to visit the homes on your shortlist. You should contact the home, to find out if a visit is at all possible. If you can visit, you may be able to see a potential room and meet the staff who will provide day-to-day care and support. This will give you a feel for the new home and the opportunity to learn about the specialist care which can be provided.

  1. Ask questions

To instil confidence in your decision, consider which questions you may have for the care home staff. Do not be afraid to ask questions, this is an important decision.

Some questions you may wish to ask are:

  • What are the charges?
  • What food is provided?
  • Are residents able to go in and out?
  • What is the provision for a resident to hold and spend money?
  • Do they offer additional services like a hairdresser or newspapers?
  • What is the staff turnover like?
  • What is the ratio of patients to care and nursing staff?
  • What training has been given to care home staff to ensure they give those with dementia the specialist help they need?

As with any period of change, this process may seem challenging and daunting.  The most important aspect throughout will be to discuss the needs and wishes of the person involved.

Our Private Client teams are based in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth and are experts in planning for elderly care, understanding that it can be a challenging and emotional process.  They can provide thoughtful advice and help you navigate the challenges and explore all options, to ensure peace of mind for you and your loved ones.

If you would like more information about any of the issues raised above, please get in touch.

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