Working in a care environment for a number of years has given us the opportunity to meet many fascinating people from all walks of life. A senior care home is a huge melting pot of personalities, each with their own history and stories to boot. Often the only common denominator is that the people have met at this stage of life by living in the same place. Every resident of a care home has a personal reason for living there. Although the stories are similar in some aspects, it has done me well to remember that each decision is as individual as the person making it.
There are a number of questions one will need to answer before making the leap of moving. The most important is, “Am I ready?”
Why do people move into a care environment?
There are many reasons a person may move into a care home. Some of the more common reasons are:
- Recent fall or hospitalisation
- Recent death of a spouse or partner
- Memory impairment or onset of dementia
- Person not wishing to be a burden on their family
- Family made the decision for them
- Continuing health concerns that need nursing or full-time care
- Difficulty maintaining their home
- Fear of rising crime rates in the area
- Of course the decision may not be one of necessity. Many people make the move simply because they would like to make new friends or enjoy the facilities the residential care home has to offer.
Am I ready?
The idea of moving into a care home is for many simply out of the question!
Let’s face it, the reputation of care homes over the years has, more often than not, been a bad one. For most, the thought of moving into a care home meant the threat of living in a cold dark and damp room, with no one to speak to for hours on end. We also need to look at the “social stigma” and our own prejudgments of what a care home would be like. Many of us try to compartmentalise our lives into childhood, going to school, getting a job, making a family, retiring, going to a care home and then…?
A lot of residents have told us about the fears they faced when moving in to a care environment, many of which are very similar:
- “What do I do with myself now?”
- “Am I just waiting for god?”
- “How long until my family forgets me?”
- “What time will I have to go to bed?”
- “How will the staff treat me?”
All of these fears are very real for some, and, unfortunately, don’t have simple answers. Thankfully, however, today’s residential care homes are far more focused on the resident’s individual needs. As the need for senior care increases, so does the competition amongst care providers to offer more in the way of comfort and stimulation. Many modern care homes often look more like hotels and offer private rooms that can be decorated to suit the resident. More and more homes are allowing residents to bring their pets and furnishings; a lot can be said for sleeping in your own bed, especially in a new environment. The idea that people move into a care home to die is quickly becoming an old-fashioned notion. Providers are now a lot more focused on the idea that residents move in to “keep on living!”
Before deciding if you are ready or not, it would be beneficial to talk it through with family or close friends. Do they have any suggestions that may help your decision? There are also ways of staying in your own home more comfortably. Domiciliary care may be another option for you to look at before leaving your own home. Agencies provide services that range from reminding you to take medication, assistance with washing, dressing, using the bathroom, shopping and housework to full live-in care.
What do I look for in a care home?
As with most things in life, personal preference is the key. After all, one person’s trash is another’s treasure. But there are some other important points one would be wise to consider:
- Does the care home offer everything you need in the way of health care?
Not all care environments offer nursing care. Though not necessarily something you need at the moment, it may potentially be something you may need in the future. If the care home is a distance from where you currently live, you may need to sign up to a new doctor’s surgery. Some care homes work directly with a particular surgery, which will take a lot of the stress out of signing up as a new patient.
- What can I afford?
Before deciding on a particular care home, take a look at what you will be able to pay. Remember this will possibly be one of the biggest moves of your life, a move that will potentially come with lots of feelings and emotion. Chances are you won’t want to be moving again very soon, so think about how much your finances will cover. Even though a particular care home has a big price tag, it doesn’t make it the best! Shop around and visit as many as you can before you decide which new home is the best for you.
- Check inspection reports.
To give yourself and loved ones peace of mind, it would be of huge benefit to check the homes last inspection report. The majority of homes have this information on their websites. Reports are also be readily available from the local governing body. A care home may look and feel like what you’re looking for, and the chances are it will be, but it always pays to scratch the surface a little.
- Do they allow pets?
The majority of modern care homes accept animals, but be mindful that not all do. You may have already made alternative plans for your pet to go to a good home. This is, however, a make-or-break deal for a lot of people. Having your fury or feathered companion with you can make the move a whole lot easier.