Top tips to find a care home

My parents are getting on a bit now. I know they are, because I’ve hit middle age!They aren’t in the best of health, and with each new health scare my sisters and I have started to think the time has come when they need more care than we can provide

It’s at these times that I reflect on how lucky we are. I’m a Registered Nurse with years of experience in Registered Care. So if and when the time comes for them to go into care. I am confident I can find a quality home for them that will provide the best possible care

This same train of thought leads me to wonder what others less qualified and experienced do when looking for care for family and friends. The care market, and especially the older persons market, is awash with sharp operators looking to make money. Big business is investing in, and taking over the market, so quality of care is a secondary consideration for these people

It is easy to find good legal and financial advice when looking at Registered Care for a parent. As well as tried and tested products to help with care costs and any legal implications. Clearly it is best to get professional legal and financial advice at times like these

Good care homes, providing quality care, are out there, with owners, managers and staff who care. But how does one find them?

My recommendation would be to get help from a professional care consultant In the same way one would get qualified legal and financial advice

Here’s why: in 2010 nearly half a million people lived in Registered Care, according to the Care Quality Commission. In 2012, following the Winterbourne View scandal, they revealed that nearly 50% of homes did not meet the National Minimum Standards. The press love a failing care home story, and they land on my desk with sad frequency. Alongside this, reports of abuse in care homes have risen in the last year to 112,000 – an increase of 4% on the previous year

In terms of Registered Care homes, one size does not fit all. Apart from your loved ones likes/dislikes and preferences, their care needs are unique. For example, one would expect the average care home to know how to care for a common condition such as Diabetes. However a recent survey revealed 60 per cent of 2,043 care home premises surveyed did not have a member of staff trained to deal with diabetes. So making sure that the home can provide care for needs beyond keeping your loved one warm, safe, clean, fed and watered is easier said than done

Ask yourself “Do I have the time?” You could between one and three days looking at each prospective home for a client. That is actual time spent physically in the home talking to staff, residents the manager and anyone else you can. Looking at what facilities they have, care processes they have in place and generally being as nosey as possible

Alongside that, you might carry out a desktop review, finding information about the home, the owners, staff and management. This does not require years of training and experience, but does need time and some knowledge of what to look for

Do you know what to look for? Clients tell me they look for various things in a potential home like the smell, a nice house, good gardens, friendly staff. Yes, these can all be good indicators, but they can also be faked or masked. In the same vein, nice looking brochures and slick websites are easy enough to produce, but how much do they reflect quality of care? The quick answer is they don’t. One needs to look underneath the skin of the home, and have the type of personality to persist. Again, not the special preserve of the professional

Have you got the expertise?  Older persons care is a complex speciality and each person’s needs are unique. I know many carers who become experts in the field of the care of their loved one, but this can be a limited field of expertise. Technology and medical research mean that professionals in the field need to keep themselves constantly updated

The internet is a good source of help and information, however beware the sites out to make money, doing little else other than supplying you with the latest CQC report and at worst, taking payment from the home itself to feature on the site

Overall, the chances of finding a quality care home that can meet your loved ones needs and preferences without professional help are difficult

A professional care consultant is not a necessity, and if you have the time, facts and a degree of tenacity, finding quality care is possible. The question to ask yourself is: “Would I buy a house without a solicitor, surveyor, or agent?” For the average family, a care home placement is the next big purchase in life after a house, so it might be worth thinking about a care advisor

Kris is a registered nurse with over twenty seven years experience in health and social care. He is a City and Guilds Qualified Registered Manager, with eleven years experience in Care Home Management. Select-a-Home provides advice, information and support for people looking for a quality care home. Free telephone and email advice is available via my website. Kris is an affiliate of the Society of Later Life Advisors and a member of Age Action Alliance


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