It’s often difficult to know where to start when researching and choosing a care home for your loved one. There is an extra level of pressure and care that’s involved when you are dealing with the wellbeing of someone you love and with so many potential questions to ask, it can seem overwhelming if you don't know where to start looking.
The Country Court Care family have advised countless others in your position, helping them pick out a care home that isn’t just of high quality but is perfectly suited for their loved one’s needs. We have compiled these tips into a single, easy to absorb guide so that you can make sure that the care home you choose is the best one possible.
Here are the most important things you should look for when choosing a care home for your loved one.
Location is one of the most important criteria to keep in mind when choosing a care home - for two reasons. Firstly, if you intend to visit on a regular basis, you will want to select a care home that is within easy reach of your home and if possible, not far from major transport routes. By far, one of the most important aspects of ensuring a positive care home experience is regular visits from family and friends. Our residents are at their best and feel their strongest after a visit from a loved one, so it's important to ensure that the home you select is easily reachable for as many friends and extended family members to visit as possible.
The second thing to consider is proximity to a medical establishment. The majority of care homes, including our own, will ensure that they are within a reasonable distance of a hospital. However, it’s still worth double-checking there is some form of medical provider within easy reach of your chosen care home. Each care home will have links to a local GP’s surgery and in many instances, residents can continue to use the same GP if they live close by.
It goes without saying that when considering the happiness of those you love, you never want to settle for second best. Exceptional care is absolutely paramount - not just for ensuring that your loved one is looked after, but to provide you with peace of mind when you can’t be with them every day. We understand how difficult it can be to leave important family members in the care of others, which is exactly why you need to feel 100% confident in the quality of care they are receiving.
When checking for care quality, always take the time to visit the home. During your visit, keep an eye out for the finer details of how the building operates. How many nurses or members of staff are there per resident? Do the residents have a specific member of staff or key worker, allocated to them? Are the residents' needs attended to promptly? Do they appear comfortable and happy? These are all questions that can only be answered by seeing things for yourself. The demeanour of the residents and staff, as well as the general atmosphere of the care home, are all excellent indicators that can tell how effective the care being provided is.
Beyond the interactions between staff and residents, you should also be sure to consider the facilities available. How clean are the rooms? Is there enough space for the residents to move around? These points may seem small but they make all the difference.
As mentioned previously, the attentiveness and effectiveness of the staff is an essential part of any great care home. Emotional sensitivity, along with knowledge and experience, all play a big role in creating a healthy care home environment. The staff of your perfect care home should be attentive, friendly, warm and patient at all times, not just to you during your visit, but in every interaction throughout the day. Staff who love what they do and truly care about the residents in their care make it very clear through their actions. A family atmosphere of reciprocated care between residents and staff is the best way to achieve this, which is why the Country Court Care family doesn’t just include staff members - it includes each of our residents too.
Be sure to ask about staff qualifications, particularly in specialist facilities like our own dementia care homes. Furthermore, after your visit, look into reviews of the care home - like our own testimonials before making your choice.
Care homes, just like hospitals, are regulated by an external body. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) conducts regular reviews of the care provided by homes across the country, including our own. Checking the quality standards by eye is one thing but reading the Care Quality Commission's own report can serve as a real confidence boost that helps solidify the right decision in your mind.
CQC reports cover five aspects of care facilities; they review how safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led each facility is, their findings are summarised into an overall score, ranging from outstanding through to inadequate. If there is anything in a CQC report that you are unsure about, discuss it with the Home’s Manager who will be able to explain what the home is doing to respond to any improvements required. Amongst the Country Court Care family, Lakeview Lodge is one of our highest-rated homes, with an outstanding level of responsiveness, indicating that people received a personalised service responsive to their needs, with an emphasis on enhancing people’s lives through the provision of meaningful, imaginative activities and opportunities.
A care home isn’t just a building with beds - it’s a home away from home. As a result, it should be as comfortable and enjoyable as any other home. This is why meaningful activities are so important. In your own home, you have plenty to do throughout the day. Purposeful activities that stimulate people and improve well-being should be provided every day, staff will get to know residents' individual likes and preferences and facilitate opportunities for them to feel worthwhile and happy.
Luxury care homes like Tallington Lodge are the best places to look for this type of experience, offering facilities like cafes, pubs, hair salons and boat-houses to facilitate meaningful activities from gardening to games, cooking and reminiscing. Think about what your loved one enjoys doing and when you are visiting, check that your potential care home choice can cater to their needs.
Some care homes have specific visiting rules and regulations, so it's always best to enquire when it comes to visiting options. It's important to make sure you're fully prepared, so if you are unsure about anything, don’t be afraid to ask. Our staff put the needs of their residents and loved ones first, so if you allow us to help you with whatever you need, you will feel much more confident leaving your loved one in our care. Most Country Court Care Homes encourage visitors at any time of the day, although some have a ‘protected mealtime policy’ so it’s worth checking what time meals are before you visit. This Policy protects mealtimes from unnecessary and avoidable interruptions, providing an environment conducive to eating and drinking, and enables staff to provide residents with the support and assistance they need in order to maximise nutritional intake This can be particularly important for residents with dementia who find busy and noisy mealtimes difficult.
Finally, it goes without saying that knowing your budget and what funding options are available before you start to look at the care homes available is key. Read our ‘Paying for Care Guide’ for more information on this. The care and environment that your loved one experiences is the most important aspect of any residential care home, though budget must be considered too. Again, doing your research and being unafraid to ask questions is the best way to ensure financial understanding and security. Never second guess and always ask for clarity if needed.
Ask around amongst your friends and family locally as their personal experience of a care home is a great way to help you to make your decision. If you don’t know anyone to ask then websites such as carehome.co.uk contain a wealth of information, advice and testimonials from residents and their relatives. Some care homes will have Facebook pages where you can see activities and outings the residents have enjoyed. Home Managers will be happy for you to speak to staff and other residents when you visit too.
There are hundreds of potential questions you could ask when choosing the right care home, but every situation and every resident is different - at the end of the day, you are best placed to know if a particular care home is right for your loved one.