1st May 2015

A step by step guide to finding the best care home - Part 3

Checklist of questions to ask a care home.

Take a photo of the care home before you go in, so that subsequent photos will remind you which home you took them in.

1. How is food cooked, is it freshly prepared on the premises, frozen or delivered?
2. What time is food served and is there a dedicated dining room? Can your relative eat in their room if preferred? Are mealtimes flexible?
Are special diets catered for?
Can residents prepare their own drinks and snacks?
Can residents choose what and when they eat?
Does the home cater for relatives and friends to eat with residents?
Is there a garden and outdoor space? Is this space accessible for residents with dementia?
If your relative is a smoker are there dedicated areas?
How many lounges are there and is there one without a TV?
What activities are going on in the communal lounges whilst you are visiting?
If your relative has reduced mobility are there hand rails/a lift/ramps?
What are the languages spoken in the home?
Does the home encourage residents to do as much as possible themselves and make their own decisions about how they live their lives?
Are there visiting times?
To what extent can residents bring in their own personal possessions? Can they bring in their own bed for example?
Can residents choose what time they get up and go to bed?
Is there a telephone point in the room?
Does the room have an en suite shower/wet room?
What is the view like out of the window?
What size is the room?
Is it just a bedroom that is being offered or is there a kitchenette?
Does the home have apartments with a separate bedroom and living area?
What floor is your relative likely to be living on? Usually residents with dementia are on the first or second floor, ensure there is outside space or that residents are regularly taken out for fresh air.
What activities does the home offer? (Take a photo of the activities board).
Are books available and can newspapers be delivered?
How are valuable items kept secure?
Do residents have their own GP?
Is there a residents committee?
Are toilets available and accessible in all parts of the home?
Can wheelchairs go everywhere, including outside?
How often can residents have a bath and is the bathroom warm and welcoming?
Is there a hairdresser? Are other services available i.e. a manicure or massage?
Do chiropodists/opticians and dentists visit the home regularly?
Does the home provide end of life care or would the resident need to move if their care requirements changed?
Can a relative stay overnight if necessary?
Does the home offer respite care or a ‘try before you buy’ option?
What are the staffing ratios? These vary depending upon the type of care offered.

Now that my husband is beginning to settle into his care home, I wanted to write and thank you for all your help and expertise in finding a suitable care home for him at a time when I was finding life very difficult. I do not think I could have managed without you. I appreciated your practical support in organising all the visits and even return visits with other members of my husband’s family. Your knowledge of how to assess a home and to know what to look for in any assessment cut out hours of my time trying to understand reports, particularly at a time when I could not think straight. Your understanding of my emotional situation was a real blessing. Although the care home we chose is not in my immediate neighbourhood, I am still convinced that it suits his needs and he will settle in well to this new environment. To find an expert in the unchartered waters of care homes at a time of personal distress was wonderful. Very many thanks. With every good wish