- Take as much time as you can
Choosing a home in a hurry is never a good idea, but often there can be pressure to find somewhere quickly, especially if a hospital is keen to discharge a patient. Consider how much time you put into choosing your own home (and that was without thinking about the care and support your older relative will need in a home).
Tip: Remember the first 12 weeks after discharge should be paid for, so there is the option to have temporary care while you make your final choice.
- Decide which type of home you need for your parent
There are four types of care home and facilities and prices will vary for each! If there is a strong possibility that your loved one may need greater levels of care in the future, it can be wise to choose a home where this extended care is possible, rather than having to move.
The four types are:
- Basic care home, which provides meals and accommodation
- Care home with 24 hour state registered nursing facilities
- Care home specifically for dementia sufferers
- Registered care home, combining general and nursing car
- Talk to your parent if you can
Although if your parent is not well enough for this conversation, discuss it with all your close relatives who know your parent well. Find out what the most important things to them are about the care home and what they think the staff should know about their loved one.
- Decide where the home should be
Think about the distances you, other family members and friends may need to travel and how easy it is to get there, including for those who don’t have their own transport.
- Determine what level of access you need
Many homes are in adapted buildings, and even if they say they can offer a ground floor room, there can be steps into the lounge, dining room etc. If your parent needs completely level access, make sure the home can provide this.
- Decide what bathroom facilities your parent requires
Bathroom arrangements can be very personal, especially access to one’s own toilet. If this is an issue, check if the home has ensuite facilities.
- Consider what size of home is right for your parent
Some homes are very large and this can have its advantages, such as better entertainment facilities, and a wider social circle. If your parent is quiet and shy, however, they may be better off in a much smaller home.
- Ask what other factors are important to your parent
Do they want access to a garden? Do they have specific dietary requirements? Many older people are inseparable from their cats and dogs and want to take them with them.
- Check out the sums
Importantly, if your loved one will be a “self funder”, how much can they afford? After determining what benefits and entitlements are available, the rest of the fees will need to come out of investments, savings or against the future sale of a home.
Fees will vary considerably between homes, and this can mean that families may want (or feel they need) to top up the fees from their own resources to secure the quality of care desired.
- Plan ahead in case the money runs out
Many homes will not keep people on at social service rates so you will need to think about the long-term cost. There are care fee plans which might prove helpful if you want to ensure you can cover fees for the rest of your loved one’s life.