Independent Age, the older people’s charity, is urging older people and their families to make a plan for moving into a care home before the need arises, so they can avoid making important decisions under pressure. To make the process easier, the charity has published a new, free advice guide to help older people and their families identify the things to think about when choosing a care home and the questions they should be asking.
Moving to a care home can be an emotional and confusing experience. With more than 11,670 registered independent care homes in the UK[i] - offering a diverse range of services, with different ratings and varying costs - it can be difficult to know where to start.
The free guide, called How to find the right care home, offers new, independent information on what to think about when choosing a care home for yourself or someone else, even if the decision needs to be made in a hurry or under difficult circumstances. Some of the key advice is based on research from focus groups with older people and their families carried out by Independent Age, which asked them about their own experiences of choosing a care home and what information they would have found useful at the time. [ii]
The guide provides practical advice on topics such as what steps to take if you think you might need to move into a care home, what questions to ask, how to decide what matters to you and how to research, visit and choose a care home. There is also a comprehensive downloadable checklist to print off and take with you on each care home visit, available at: independentage.org/care-home-checklist.
Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of Independent Age, says, “Choosing a care home can be one of the most difficult, stressful and costly decisions we ever have to make, and we often hear from families or older people who just don’t know where to start.
“Often it’s a decision that needs to be made in a time of crisis, so emotions can get the better of us and things that should be important might get pushed to one side. By starting early, older people and their families can take time to think about the things that would be important to them in advance. The new, free guide from Independent Age takes you through the process step-by-step to help make finding the right care home a little bit easier.”
There are an estimated 357,225 older people living in residential settings across the UK[iii]. The average age of residents when they are admitted is 82[iv] and they tend to stay in a care home for an average of 18 months.[v]
Some of the most important steps to consider when you’re starting a care home search include asking the local council to carry out an assessment of care needs, finding out if the local council or NHS will contribute towards care home fees, deciding on which type of care home the older person needs and the location. You can then begin the process of drawing up a shortlist and visiting suitable homes.
Anyone who needs more information about how to choose a care home for themselves or for an older relative or friend can order the How to find the right care home guide for free at independentage.org/care-home-guide or by calling 0800 319 6789. Those who need more targeted guidance can call the free Independent Age helpline on 0800 319 6789 to arrange to speak to an expert adviser.
[ii] Independent Age spoke to 13 people in two focus groups, held in April 2016 in Sutton and Poole. Ages of people in the groups ranged from 41 to late 70s. One group had experience of having to choose a care home for a loved one, while the other group had no experience
[iii] Using a percentage figure from Changes in the Older Resident Care Home Population between 2001 and 2011, ONS, 2014, 82.5% of residential care residents are 65+ in England and Wales. The number of residents in residential care is calculated from this based on the figure in Care of older people: UK Market Report, Laing and Buisson, September 2015
[iv] The changing role of care homes, BUPA and Centre for policy on ageing, 2011
[v] BUPA care home census, 2009