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A Guide to Choosing a Care Home

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 30 Apr 2010 | comments*Discuss
Choosing A Care Home Residential Home

Choosing a care home can be a daunting process and finding the right care home is important. There are a number of vital questions that should be asked by anyone assessing a care home.

Difference between Residential Care and Nursing Homes

Many people are under the impression that residential homes and nursing homes fulfil the same purpose. The main difference between the two is that residential homes will be able to provide access to qualified nursing staff but they will not be permanently stationed at the home. Nursing homes will have 24 hour qualified nursing staff on the premises to support the resident’s medical needs. The medical requirements of the resident will usually determine whether a residential or a nursing home is required.

Assessing Which Type of Care Home is Required

A needs assessment will be the first step towards deciding the correct type of care home. This assessment can be made with the help of the Social Services Department and the NHS Primary Care Trust. The assessment will usually take place in the client’s home or may take place in hospital. The assessment will determine the level of care required in the care home or even whether continuing NHS hospital care will be required. Once the needs assessment has been made the next step will be a financial assessment.

Financial Assessing of a Care Home Client

Anyone who is considering a care home has the right to choose the home they live in. Local authorities will carry out a means tested financial assessment. This will then be used to assess how much the local authority will pay towards the care home cost and how much the client will pay. If the client has no benefits, pensions, savings or other forms of income then the local authority may be required to meet the full costs. If the client chooses a care home that costs more than the local authority would usually pay then the client will be required to fund the excess costs.

Choosing a Care Home

Choosing an appropriate care home will no doubt take trial and error and the decision is not to be made lightly. Considerations should include:

  • The home can provide the type of medical care required
  • Ensure that the care home is registered
  • Ensure that managers are qualified as registered care home managers
  • Ensure employees are qualified to at least a minimum of NVQ level 2 in care
  • Ensure the home is clean and well maintained
  • Rooms should be en-suite according to government guidelines
  • At least no more than three people sharing a bathroom
  • The care home should offer regular activities and have values that promote health, respect, dignity and choice

Other Considerations When Choosing a Care Home

Clients and family members should ask a number of questions when assessing a care home. They should find out if clients are able to keep their own doctors if desired and that the client’s religious and cultural needs are met. The client’s food and dietary requirements may be another consideration that can be assessed during the visit. How accessible the care home is for visits from friends and family should also be taken into account. A checklist of these points should be made and a few visits may be needed to the home before a decision is made.

Taking Appropriate Advice on Choosing a Care Home

There are a number of professionals that can help when making a decision on choosing a care home. District nurses, health visitors and family doctors will be able to provide invaluable support and information when making this decision. Social workers and care managers can also provide help and support. A directory of registered care homes in the UK can be found at the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI). The directory will also provide detailed reports on the annual inspections carried out on care homes.

A care home assessment should never be rushed. As much time should be taken as needed to ensure that the care home can meet the client’s needs. Care homes should always have set policies for training and future developments to ensure that the best care is given at present and in the future.

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