Care homes offer both permanent and temporary stays (respite care) in single or shared rooms with a team of qualified staff on site to provide care and support. Nowadays, very few care homes are run by the local council. Most are privately owned or run by charities. Care homes catering for older residents can be large – up to 60 plus beds. Residential care homes that provide care and support for younger adults with, for example, severe physical disabilities, learning disabilities, brain injury resulting from an accident, or mental health problems are generally much smaller.
There are two types of care home:
- residential care homes offer help with personal care, meals, mobility and provide some social opportunities.
- nursing homes provide care for people with complex needs who require the skills of a qualified nurse.
Some homes provide both types of care. When looking for a home, consider if it will be able to continue to manage the care needs if the person is likely to deteriorate significantly over time. Sometimes people move into a care home only to find that when their needs increase, the home can no longer cater for them.
The person needing care and support must have a say in any plan and wherever possible will make the decision about where they want to live, assuming funding and a place is available. You can either make arrangements between you for them to move to a care home, or ask the local council for help and advice.
There are usually other options to think about before committing to a care home and the council will explore these with you to see if, with the right support, the person can remain living at home. If the council is responsible for funding the care they will consider all the other options before a care home.
When choosing a care home, you will probably want to visit a few first so you can compare them and choose the one you like best. Find out about practical things, for example:
- kind of training staff receive
- what the rooms are like
- the variety and choice people get with food
South Gloucestershire council has produced a factsheet about choosing a care home, which includes websites where you can search for care homes.
Bristol City council has information about care homes on their website including a leaflet about things to think about when choosing a care home.
Whether you live in South Gloucestershire or Bristol both factsheets may be useful to read as they cover slightly different things.
First Stop has produced a guide to choosing and paying for a care home which also includes alternative options to residential care.
To look for a care home, with information on charges and current vacancies, see the care home website.
The Care Quality Commission website can be used to check if the homes you are looking at have been inspected and how they are rated.
Moving to a care home can be emotional and stressful and not everyone involved may agree on what is best. It will help the person settle there if they have visited the home and met staff before moving in, so it is familiar. Making sure that the person has their own personal items with them can help them feel at home. The care home may let you go in advance to hang pictures, move in small bits of furniture and other familiar items.
If you can prepare some information about the person you care for this will help the staff start conversations and make sure they respect their wishes. You could include things about their life and what they have done as well as things they like to do. Photos can be a good prompt for starting conversations as well as making the care for person feel at home. Staff will also need practical information about the person’s routine and dietary requirements. Talk to the care home about the information they would find helpful and the best way to get this to them.
Within the first few weeks, a senior member of staff will draw up a care plan and you can help with this. This is a very important document for ensuring that all staff follow the same routines that are agreed as being what the person wants and is in their best interests.
When someone moves into a care home you will need to let a number of people and organisations know, for example, banks, utility companies, the GP, the local council. If the person is receiving any benefits you will need to let the Department for Work and Pensions know, as well as any pension providers. Write a check list of all the organisations that need to know and consider getting mail redirected.