Recognising when a vulnerable older person needs a higher level of care and getting them the help they need is often a delicate and complicated process.
The deterioration of someone’s physical or mental state can be hard for both that individual and their loved ones to come to terms with. Moving out of a beloved family home can also be a very emotional experience. However, the process can be made much smoother and far less distressing if everyone is well-informed. And ultimately, when you have found a great care home and your loved one is getting the excellent care they need and deserve, you can feel reassured that they are being kept safe and well.
When should someone move into a care home?
Care homes are intended to protect those who are unable to adequately look after themselves while living independently. There are a number of signs to look out for when deciding whether it’s time to consider moving someone into a care home. For example:
- If they are struggling to get around the house without assistance.
- If they are unable to keep their home clean and tidy.
- If their behaviour puts them in potentially unsafe situations.
- If they are experiencing falls and injuries.
- If they are unable to maintain a good diet and level of personal hygiene, or to take any required medication in the correct doses and intervals.
Sometimes older people are worried that they will be a burden on their relatives, or they may be embarrassed that they are struggling to look after themselves. This can mean that people are reluctant to tell anyone about the problems they are experiencing. Therefore, it’s very important to keep a close eye on them, to spot more subtle signs. This could include checking for bruises or burns, ensuring they are eating properly and haven’t lost weight, observing their mobility and movement, and looking out for any broken items or mess, which the elderly individual may be trying to conceal.
How to talk to a loved one about moving into a care home
Talking to a relative, spouse or friend about moving into a care home can be difficult. Leaving your own home can be a daunting prospect, and some people can be upset or offended by being told that they are not capable of looking after themselves. Approaching the topic in conversation has to therefore be done very sensitively.
Try to avoid taking an accusatory tone, and pointing out the things that your loved one is no longer able to do independently, which may embarrass or upset them. Instead, focus on explaining why you are concerned, and ask them how they feel about their situation, and whether they feel they need more help and support. Ensuring that they feel listened to and involved in decision making is essential.
What happens if someone refuses to move into a care home?
Some people are particularly reluctant to move into a care home, and in some cases, they may repeatedly refuse, despite being desperately in need. If you encounter this, it’s important to first try to find the best solution that causes the least conflict, for their wellbeing and for yours. Having an honest conversation about what exactly is behind your loved one’s rejection of a care home is a crucial place to start. Then, you can work on addressing some of their concerns, perhaps by allowing them to research and choose the home, or by compromising with a ‘halfway house’ option, such as employing a live-in carer.
Many care homes, such as those operated by The Fremantle Trust, provide respite care. This means someone can stay in a care home for a short time, giving their carers a rest, and allowing them an insight into what life there would be like. This can alleviate their fears and reduce their hesitancy about moving into a care home more permanently.
When an older person continues to refuse to accept that they need a care home, even though it is clear to those around them that it is necessary, this can cause a very difficult situation for them and their loved ones. It is always useful to arrange a care needs assessment via your local authority, which will provide a professional third party opinion as to whether full time residential care is necessary. Having an external, unbiased viewpoint can sometimes be more persuasive. Ultimately, someone can only be moved into a care home against their will if they are incapable of making their own decisions. If your loved one has a condition such as dementia which mentally incapacitates them, you may be able to obtain power of attorney, enabling you to make decisions about their care.
Who is responsible for paying care home fees?
Who pays for a care home will depend upon the financial resources available to the care home resident. In the UK, means testing is carried out to determine whether someone is able to pay for their own care, and if they are not then there is financial help available from local authorities. Generally, if some have capital, including the value of a property, which is worth more than £23,250 in total, then that individual will be required to pay their own care home fees. If their capital is worth less than this, then they can receive help with paying the fees from the local council. Find out more about who pays for care home fees.
How to support someone who is moving into residential care
Help them navigate their way around the care home
It can take a while to find your way around a home, especially the much larger ones with a huge range of amenities. To help your loved one get their bearings, offer to spend a few days with them to help them find their way around, rather than leaving them to do it alone. With your help, they will feel more at ease and confident in walking around alone.
Become familiar with the care home before moving in
Before moving into the care home, it is recommended that you get familiar with the place so that when you come to move in, you are well-adjusted and feel right at ease.
Regular visits before your first official day is a great way to get to know it better. Make sure to get familiar with the facilities, surroundings, the staff and other residents. In fact, engaging in friendly chats with the other residents before you move will be really beneficial to you. You should also familiarise yourself with where you will be living. Think about how you will decorate your room, what activities you will join in with, and how you will spend your time.
Moving into a care home is a big life change and can be stressful and emotional. However, there are steps that you can take to support a loved one who is making this transition, in order to make it easier and smoother for them. This could include:
Bringing lots of familiar items and home comforts, such as family photographs, ornaments and favourite cushions or bedding.
- Creating a comfortable routine, perhaps with lie-ins or breakfast in bed at the weekend, or watching a film with other residents one night each week.
- Staying connected with family and friends, with regularly scheduled visits and phone or video calls, so that they don’t feel abandoned or forgotten.
- Encouraging communication and positive relationships with staff. If both you and your loved one get to know the people who will be caring for them this can put them at ease, and make it much easier to deal with any issues that may arise.
What can you take into a care home?
Most care homes allow you to bring in any belongings that will make you feel right at home. This could be pillows, soft furnishings, books, photos, rugs and any bedroom lighting. Some care homes may even allow you to bring in your own furniture, like your bed and television.
And of course, you must take the toiletries and clothes you will need. It’s also a good idea to label your clothes so that they don’t get muddled up in the laundry.
Simply speak to a member of our staff to find out more about what you can bring with you.
We have care homes located across the Buckinghamshire county. Learn more about care homes nearest to you:
Care home Aylesbury
Care home Princes Risborough
Care home Chalfont St Peter
Care home Amersham
Care homes Slough
Care home Chesham
Care home Stoke
Burnham Care homes
Care homes High Wycombe
Care homes Marlow