- Talk through the options
Before you start shortlisting any nursing homes, sit with people you care, if they are able to have that conversation and discuss what matters to them. This may involve the location, facilities or specialist treatment for specific health problems. What they consider ‘important’ and what is ‘desirable’? It might be a good idea to include as many family members as possible in this decision.
- Shortlist suitable care homes
Use a care service directory to find suitable care homes in selected areas. You can filter for residential or nursing homes and search homes on offer for more specialist support, such as those with dementia care or a physical disability. Where care homes have a website, it is always worth spending some time browsing the website to get more of a feel for the home and any reviews.
If your loved one has a medical condition that is incurable or may be nearing the end of their lives, find out if the nursing home can provide appropriate palliative care.
- Read the nursing home inspection reports
In the UK, inspections are required to examine and report on the service provider. Reports are available to the public and provide valuable insights into how well the home is managed and the level of care they offer. In England and Scotland, the regulator also assesses the service provider’s care. For Care homes in Somerset, contact a site like Notaro Homes, providers of Care homes in Somerset.
You can also use the report to see whether:
points raised by the inspectors have been handled or if they reappear in subsequent reports
have frequent inspections, which may be a sign of a problem.
- Ask friends and family for a recommendation
Does anyone you know have family or friends who have been in care homes or have recently stayed in one? A recommendation from happy customers is worth its weight in gold.
- Contact care homes
Contact those you have shortlisted by making a phone call first. Discuss how the home can meet the needs of your loved one directly to the home manager. Ask the home to be upfront about the cost, too, even if they are reluctant. This will help you to avoid a wasted trip. They will want to know if the care recipient will be funding themselves, funded by the local authority or mixed. It could be that you do not know this yet, in terms of explaining the situation.
- Visit the nursing homes
It is important to visit all the homes on the shortlist to get as much information as you can. Now is the time to consider what is important, ranging from practical issues, such as whether social activities are offered, with questions about the care home contracts, the potential space of your family members, and whatever happens in and around the home.
If possible, visit the nursing home with the people you care for, but if that is not possible, go with other family members or friends. Should the care recipient be unable to visit, you can ask someone from the home to visit them at home to assess their requirements in person.