I know that there are many people who have had concerns about protecting loved ones who need care, who, for obvious reasons have been very reluctant to consider placing them in a care home. That is changing now, but, as we take steps down the road towards a new normality, the need to make sure that you have made the right care choice is stronger than ever. So, I thought it would be helpful if we re-ran our very successful series of blogs, which take you through the whole process, from first realisation that care is needed, through the steps you need to take, before actually moving in.
When talking to the many people we have helped with their care searches, there are all kinds of reasons why they have needed to move into a care home, some more surprising than others, the “right” time to move into a care home though, depends entirely upon the individual’s circumstances.
In this, part of a series of articles exploring the reasons why people may move into care, we look first at personal choice, as a lifestyle decision for a gentleman in his eighties and, also, an emergency hospital discharge, which actually required finding care for both a husband and wife.
Personal Choice – Lifestyle
Mr Simpson, who was in his late eighties, had managed to live quite independently in his flat since his wife passed away five years ago, and was in reasonable health. He openly admitted that he had not been getting enough exercise since his elderly dog had died two years ago and, as a result, he had put on weight.
He could still fend for himself, ordering food deliveries on the internet and he was still able to drive to the golf club occasionally for lunch with former playing friends, followed by the odd game of bridge. It was, however, becoming more difficult to keep his flat clean and tidy and carry out the little maintenance jobs he always had done himself.
He was also starting to feel somewhat isolated, not seeing much of his neighbours and his relatives all lived far away, scattered around the world. This made it very difficult for them to have any practical input into either the search, or choice of care home.
When he first contacted us, he had been giving his circumstances a lot of thought and had decided that the time was right for him to move into a care home. The reasons he gave us were:
- He was getting fewer opportunities to socialise, with only a handful of friends and the prospect of joining new clubs, or societies, was daunting.
- He no longer enjoyed the everyday tasks, such as cleaning, doing his laundry, or making his own meals and having to wash up afterwards. He had used home help a while ago and it hadn’t worked out well for various reasons.
- As he didn’t get that many visitors, he was worried about falling and not being found for days, particularly if he had knocked himself out.
- He didn’t want to be a burden on his family if his health deteriorated, so that they had to arrange for him to get the care he would need. He would rather do it whilst he still had all his faculties and could make the choice of care home himself.
Mr Simpson had just been approached by someone who had offered him a “not to be refused” price for his flat, which was in a prestigious block in a sought-after location. He had decided to take the offer and needed to find somewhere to move to, which would provide him with all the comfort and support he needed. However, he didn’t really know where to start.
Compared to many people who reach his time of life, he was fortunate enough that, as well as receiving a very good price for his property, he also had substantial savings and investments, plus pensions. He could comfortably cover his care home fees. even if he lived for another twenty years, whilst also providing a good inheritance for his children when he died. He had everything planned and had full mental capacity to be able to make the choice of where he wanted to live.
We carried out a search for him, in the locations he had identified as preferred, and identified a number of homes, which offered accommodation and care of a very high standard, with excellent facilities.
With the benefit of all the information we researched, he could make an informed decision as to which home would best be able to meet his future needs, should his physical and/or mental health deteriorate. Some care homes or care villages offer facilities equivalent to a four or five star hotel. He wanted a well-appointed communal lounge, with a bar, excellent standard of food, possibly a pool or a gym where he could enjoy gentle exercise, on site barbers/hairdressers, in house cinema, a bistro/café for a change of scenery and plenty of activities going on so that he could pick and choose those he wanted to attend.
By moving to one of the homes on the list, he would have all his needs attended to; meals provided three or four times a day, all house keeping and laundry dealt with and have the care staff there to support him if he needed assistance with personal hygiene and other issues in the future. He was able to retain his independence and could go out in his car, or the home could organise a taxi to say visit the golf club, or any other places he would like to go, whilst having all the advantages of living somewhere which met all his needs. From Mr Simpson’s perspective, if he could afford this route and didn’t want to risk social isolation, it was a logical decision to consider it as an option.
Rather than downsizing to a smaller property, then moving again to an extra care or sheltered housing scheme, and finally into a care home, moving from your own property straight to a care home, is probably far less stressful if you are that way inclined. Some care homes have independent living apartments attached, where you can enjoy the best of both worlds, retaining independence whilst having facilities on hand for when you want to engage, or not, as the case may be.
Personal choice, as the main driver for moving into a care home, is quite rare, but does happen. However, many people do not choose to move into a care home until they have no other option.
Urgent Hospital Discharge
At the other end of the scale, we do receive many more requests for help from families where the need for care is urgent, or even an emergency.
Mr & Mrs Reid, who were both in their late eighties, went from a situation where they were both living at home, to a crisis, almost overnight, which came as a great shock to their family. They had both been living at home, where Mr Reid cared full time for his wife, who had been diagnosed with dementia two years previously. Everything was going well; no carers were needed and Mr Reid was managing to look after Mrs Reid with occasional support from family members who lived within a fifty-mile radius.
Then, Mr Reid had a serious fall at home, which hospitalised him immediately and potentially for a few weeks. Because of his age, the fall had had a major impact on his mobility and he was becoming increasingly frail. Once he was ready for discharge, the hospital team felt that he would find it virtually impossible to look after his wife single-handed at home, particularly as Mrs Reid’s dementia was progressing. What complicated the situation even further was that the hospital desperately needed the bed and the family had been given seven days to find a care home for their father and, subsequently, they also needed one for their mother.
Having never been in this situation before, the family, who were still reeling from the shock of their father being in hospital and not being there to look after mum, did not know where to go for help and they needed to provide a safe environment for mum within a matter of hours so the pressure was really on.
They didn’t know what they were really looking for in terms of the type of care home. The list comprised all care homes specialising in elderly residential care, not just the ones providing dementia care. In addition, some offered nursing care but not dementia care, some only dementia care, but could not provide care for residents who were not living with dementia and some could provide care for people living with cognitive impairment and only mild dementia.
As you can see, there are many different terms for care and the family felt that they were trying to pick their way through a minefield. They were not aware of the Care Quality Commission and its reports and ratings and what they meant, nor did they know what sort of questions they needed to ask or even who to speak to at the care homes. In short, they had a couple of hours to research a subject they had no knowledge of.
We received a call from their son who, along with the Reid’s other children, was panicking, as none of them were able to stay at their parents’ house overnight to care for mum, whilst dad was in hospital. Fortunately, Mr & Mrs Reid’s son found Care Home Finder on the internet and we set straight to work.
So, the brief was:
a) to find emergency respite in a care home providing dementia care that afternoon and then, as the family felt that dad would not be able to cope looking after mum on his own,
b) find a care home where the two of them could be accommodated on a full-time basis, following dad’s discharge from hospital. A helpful, but over-stretched social worker, was unable to find a suitable home at such short notice and the family were simply given a list of homes, so they could ring them to find out if there was anywhere that could meet their parent’s needs.
Within an hour we had found emergency respite care for mum, in a care home which managed to assess Mrs Reid straight away and organised for her to move in immediately. By the end of the second day, we had spoken to the homes which could provide residential/nursing care for Mr Reid, and dementia care for Mrs Reid, under the same roof. We were then able to co-ordinate the move of both Mr & Mrs Reid to the care home on the same day, so that they could be together during the day, returning to their bedrooms on separate floors at night.
Two happy endings, two very different scenarios. In both cases it was the right time to move into a care home. The names and images have been changed, to respect and protect our clients’ confidentiality.
If anything in this blog sounds familiar, or if you need any other help regarding care, please follow this link to see the full range of services Care Home Finder provides, or call us on 0345 853 0300.