Most people looking for elderly care are doing so on behalf of an older relative, usually a parent. More often than not, it is a need that emerges quite suddenly. The person concerned might be deemed fit to leave hospital after say a fall or a short illness, but not be sufficiently able to look after themselves without help.

So what’s the best way to go about dealing with it?

While for some people, the preferred solution is to remain in their own home, with supporting care provided externally or via members of the family, here we will concentrate on those for whom a care home is the chosen route.

In this case, the preferred location or area is probably already determined, and likewise the type of care home facility required (e.g. purely residential, or nursing, or dementia) – but not much else.

Dig a little deeper, however, and in our experience, everyone has their own unique set of requirements. They might want somewhere peaceful and quiet, or the opposite, where there is a lot going on or, maybe a place with a garden, or even somewhere they can bring a pet. All these preferences and more need to be taken into account when drawing up a short list of potential homes.

Knowing just what things to look for and what questions to ask is a major part of the challenge. Set out below are some of the key considerations. 

  • Could you qualify for free care with Continuing Healthcare? Not many people are aware that if you have what is defined as a primary health need, where ongoing NHS treatment is required, all your care fees, including accommodation, is provided free of charge by the NHS. But it can be a complex process, and getting the best advice here is recommended.
  • Otherwise, how are care home fees to be funded? If you have very limited financial assets, and your income is restricted to say a state pension, you may not have to contribute anything at all, but for many people, they either have to pay in part (with the balance paid by the local authority) or in full.
  • How to identify those homes providing the best quality? The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is a good place to start. The CQC rates every care home for the following aspects: Safe, Effective, Caring, Responsive to needs, Well led. So it is possible to weed out the lower rated homes, however, CQC ratings can become out of date quite quickly, so other more up to date reviews are recommended.
  • Which homes have vacancies? There is no easy way of finding this out other than phoning each of the homes on your short list. This is also a good opportunity to ask any other individual questions.
  • How much are the fees? Residential fees (including meals) can typically range from £500 to over £1000 per week depending on the quality of accommodation and geographic location, on top of which there could be specialist nursing fees.

These are just a few of the aspects we explore for our clients at Care Home Finder, to help them make the right choice. As well as speaking in depth to individual home managers, we can also visit the final shortlist of homes, where we make up to date, independent assessments of a whole host of factors, including cleanliness, safety, attitude of staff, quality of care, meals, activities etc. And, while we don’t recommend any one individual home, we provide sufficiently detailed information for the client to be able to make an informed choice.

The one thing we do always say is that spending time and effort at this initial stage saves heartache and expense in the long run.