Guidance on Choosing Residential Care Homes for Elderly People

Britain is lucky enough to have a population that can now be expected to live well into its eighties and even nineties. This is due to improved healthcare and support throughout life that helps us all to live for longer than ever before.

However, longevity often comes with frailty and difficulties in living independently. Since younger generations are, on the whole, in work there are few people who are able to offer care and support to elderly relatives to enable them to stay at home. Many people feel anxious and worried that their elderly relatives may be vulnerable at home, particularly if they are prone to falls or are limited in their mobility. Residential care for elderly people is available, though the focus from Local Authorities is increasingly towards supporting people to live independently for as long as possible – because that is a cheaper alternative to residential care homes. Despite this, demand for residential care home places is still growing and will continue to do so.

How do you go about deciding whether residential care is appropriate for your elderly loved one? Well, the first step is to have an assessment carried out by a Social Worker, who can look carefully at your loved one’s needs and what measures could be put in place to allow them to continue to live at home.

However, if you feel that despite any such measures being put in place (such as stair lifts, special baths and hoists etc.,) your loved one would not be safe, happy or fulfilled if left to live on their own, you can always choose to pay privately for a place at a residential care home for elderly people.

If you decide to do so, then you should firstly consider the geographical location of the home to ensure that not only you but your loved one’s friends (who may be elderly themselves and find it difficult to travel long distances) will be able to visit regularly. Consider local access – are there bus stops or a train station nearby that would enable easy visits by friends and wider family? Are there plenty of things to do in the nearby area, should your loved one want to get out and about occasionally?

What facilities does the care home offer? Will they meet all your loved one’s needs (not just medically, but socially – things like having regular visits by a hairdresser can make all the difference to their level of happiness). If your loved one is in declining mental health, does the care home offer nursing care, personal care, and what security measures are in place to ensure that your loved one is safe and their whereabouts known?

Check the care home’s inspection report prepared by the Care Quality Commission, but also visit the care home yourself, preferably on more than one occasion and at short notice so that you know how the care home runs normally. You should trust your instinct and judgement from looking around.

For more information please see Barchester.com.