At some stage in your life you may need to go and live in a residential care home as you may no longer be able to look after yourself by living independently in your own home.
This can be one of the most difficult and gut wrenching decisions that you are likely to ever have to make and can be even more heartbreaking for members of your family if they are having to make the decision on your behalf.However, once you and/or your family have reached a decision that it is in your best interests, having weighed up all the factors involved, then there are some options available to you.
Residential or Sheltered Accommodation
If you are not severely mentally or physically impaired and don’t require 24 hour around the clock care, you may decide that you’d prefer to live in residential accommodation. There is often sheltered housing available whereby you still can live in a flat (or unit) within a housing complex independently but have the security of knowing that you can summon help 24 hours a day from a resident warden. Quite often, this will be just like ‘home from home’, living within a ‘community’ of others who have similar needs yet still wish to hold on to their own independence. Some are owned by local councils, housing associations or charities and others can be bought or rented privately.
If you require a higher level of care, however, it may mean considering moving into a residential care home. These can vary in scale from having your own room within the home in which you can enjoy a degree of privacy as well as being able to mix with other residents in the communal lounges and dining hall areas to other establishments whose focus is aimed at providing round the clock specialist care and medical supervision.
When considering which options are best for you, it’s wise to talk things through with family, friends and healthcare professionals who can also help to make the decision making process easier.
What Should I Look for When Choosing a Care Home?
There are many factors that need to be considered when choosing a care home and it will depend on the type of care home you’re ideally seeking in addition to considering your own personal preferences and needs. It is going to be your home (or your loved one’s home) after all so you should go and visit a number of homes you think might just fit the bill before reaching a decision.
You may prefer to turn up unannounced so you can gauge a feel for the place without thinking that steps might have been taken to ‘put on a good show’ for you if you pre-arrange a visit by phone. Well run, professional residential care homes have no problems with this as they like to be seen as open and transparent facilities although it does get extremely busy at mealtimes so it’s usually appreciated if you can plan your visit outside of these times.
When you arrive, you should feel free to ask any questions of the staff or any residents with whom you strike up a conversation with. You should take a good tour of the home and check for things like cleanliness, hospitality, catering and general attitude of the staff and also try to gauge how the residents are feeling about living there. Particularly look out for how well the carers and other staff interact with the residents and how the residents relate to each other as these factors can often be a good indicator as to how well you might adapt were you to move in. Don’t feel afraid to ask to see the latest inspection report as it’s always useful to get an opinion of the establishment that comes from a neutral observer whose responsibility it is to ensure that required standards are adhered to.
Paying for the Cost of Residential Care
The cost of living in a residential care home can vary tremendously from place to place and it can be very expensive indeed. If you don’t have the means to pay, you can obtain help via the state welfare system but it’s important to note that if you own your home and/or have a certain amount of savings or some form of other assets, that these can be taken into consideration and you might even have to sell your home and/or use your savings if you don’t qualify for state help so it’s important to seek advice first. You, your family and welfare services department can work together to see what the best options are, based upon your own individual circumstances.
For some people, there is no other practical alternative available other than to move into residential care whilst for others, it gives them the opportunity to feel secure in the knowledge that there is always going to be someone there to help them if needed and it may be far preferable than living alone in their own house which might have become impractical. However, it is a big step to take and many factors should be considered first.