Choosing the right Care, Nursing or Specialist Home can be a daunting task. This is the first of a series of tips on Choosing the right Care Home from the TimeFinders Retirement Downsizing Service to get you started on the right track:-
Firstly, a bit of legal stuff. You need to be a legally appointed Attorney to make decisions on behalf of an elderly person. For more information about this click here. However, in practice and whether or not a Lasting Power of Attorney is in place, it is often the relatives who take the first steps to finding the right Care Home.
Care Home Tip 1: Don’t feel rushed into making long-term decisions – take your time
Often a move into a Care Home comes as a result of a crisis, perhaps a fall or an illness which has required a stay in hospital. Families often report they feel pressurized by being told that their relative is ready for discharge from hospital but won’t be allowed out without a care plan in place. Whilst one arm of the health service can be extremely supportive, another is piling on pressure by demanding that discharge happens quickly as they’d rather like your relative’s bed – preferably this afternoon.
All the while your loved one is frail and, very often, frightened about their future. There is also an acute desire to get out of hospital as soon as possible so that they can get some sleep, get something decent to eat and avoid picking up some nasty infection.
But if discharge means finding a suitable Care Home first, there are conflicting pressures. You need time to make sure you consider all the options first but you need to avoid moving a frail and poorly person from pillar to post. A Care Home manager recently told me that they expect a 15-20% attrition rate each time they have to move an elderly resident between home and hospital. For “attrition” read “death”.
A short-stay convalescent home may give you the time and tranquillity to find the right Care Home. Alternatively, it may be possible to put a temporary Care Plan in place either at your relative’s own home or so that they can stay with you until you get sorted out. If you have to rely on the local authority to organize this, it may take some time during which your relative has to stay in hospital but there also reputable companies providing private care at home.
Despite some appalling news stories, many, many Care Homes are excellent, providing wonderful care and the right sort of companionship and stimulation when it is wanted. Contrary to popular belief, Care Homes do not force their residents to sing Keep the Home Fires Burning or My Old Man every second Tuesday. I visited one last week where a group of residents were sorting through their photographs and using computers to trace their family histories. I couldn’t hear the manager speak for the gales of laughter coming from the table. If a Care Home is the right place for your relative to live, it will in all likelihood, be their home for the rest of their lives. That could be many years so it is vitally important to take the time you need to find the right place for them to live where they can be happy, secure, well cared for and enjoy, rather than endure, this phase of their lives. You can’t do it by taking a quick afternoon off work. It takes time.
People tell us that they feel that their “real” life of career, work, children, friends and everything else – has to be put on hold until all this is sorted out, leading to increased pressure to make decisions in a hurry. Rushed decisions are often not the best decisions.
Facing the prospect of finding a Care Home for a relative can be a very emotional time for everyone. The phrase we hear so frequently is “I don’t want to be a burden” and there is often guilt on both sides, the guilt of believing you are a burden to your family, the guilt of knowing that you can’t look after your loved one yourself, grief, anger, failure, worthlessness, confusion – you name it. All these emotions are swirling around making it difficult to think calmly. You need time to decide and to be honest with yourself and each other. And all the while there is the incessant pressure to make the decision NOW. Don’t be worried about calling “Time Out” and saying to everyone hassling you for decisions “Stop a moment; we need time to think about this properly.”
If you need to find a Care Home urgently, you can download an abbreviated version of all sixteen tips from the TimeFinders website where you can also find details of the TimeFinders Care Home Service by clicking here.
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