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Choosing A Care Home – What To Consider

In the UK today, there are close to 12 million people aged 65 and over. Add to that around 5 million aged 80+ and we begin to understand the need for more affordable and more considered care and support for the increasing aging population. A popular consideration for care and comfort in older age is care home living. So, if you are considering either your own later life, or the care and support of a loved one, here are some factors to look at when choosing a care home.

Location – Location will be an important factor, but it shouldn’t trump additional considerations. While there may be a chain-run residential care home on the corner of your street, you must make sure you do more homework and research before deciding this is the right choice. That being said, it is still important that you choose an accessible location that allows convenience when to come to visit and familiarity. Depending on the person or people who will be moving into residential care, it might be very important to their comfort and feeling of safety that they aren’t too far from what they know. So, if you can, stay close to home, or at least choose a location that the resident is familiar and comfortable with. Additionally, consider how and where the property is situated. Potentially, you may want to avoid busier and more built up areas – but this will depend on the preference of the person moving in. If a countryside option is a more comfortable surrounding for them, then this is probably where you start your search. However, if the person looking to live in residential care is used to the familiarity of a town or city-based community, there may be a wider range of options to choose from.

Facilities – This one goes without saying. Comfort is key, so a care home with up-to-date and good working facilities is a must. However, don’t just look for your basic running water and heating and stop there. The best care homes should offer a home-from-home and should therefore have extras such as garden space, activity rooms, good food, private bathrooms and more. Remember, this is where the resident will spend most (if not, all) of their time. So, ask about activities, interest-driven facilities, privacy and any options that will enhance the resident’s enjoyment and comfort.

Reputation – Do a little digging. You can often find testimonials and reviews for care homes online. Alternatively, ask around. We can’t stress how important it is that you trust the care home you are considering and, if they have a great reputation of care, people will be more than happy to recommend them; those who live there, and those whose family member or friend lives there. Equally, if the care home has some negative reviews and holds a lower reputation for whatever reason, a little digging will be sure to uncover the information you need. Don’t be afraid to ask questions on your visit either: ask about facilities; what the residents can expect from day-to-day, what is the food like, what do people say about living here? …and so on. The more you ask, the better the feel you will get of the place based on the reception you get from the team or management. Speaking of which – that brings us to our next consideration…

Team – Gage the team of the property. If you can, opt for a smaller, independently run home, or a family-run business. As with any smaller-scale business, they are usually run with passion and a high-level of care. Of course, it is a generalisation to say that the larger, more corporate-run care homes are more faceless and potentially don’t always get to know their staff or their residents. However, in some cases, there may be some truth to this. The repercussions of this can sometimes mean that there is a lack of care amongst the team and the attitude that a role is ‘just a job’ can cause a lack of consideration towards the highest levels of care and comfort for the residents. This is where getting to know the team and the workings of how they run the home will be essential. Don’t judge too quickly though, it’s up to you to get to know the home and their team for their efforts and dedication to quality before you make a decision.

Finally, one thing that could be a particular selling point when it comes to residential care is flexibility. Your best option could be a care home that offers flexible options of care, rather than a ‘one size fits all’ contract. It could be that the period of stay is more for respite, or you may need a long-term option. A good care home will offer you flexibility of choice. So, ask about your options and ensure that you are being given all the available information based on your circumstances.

The main thing is that you feel they are a reputable and trusted team with up to date facilities and a comfortable living environment.

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