Choosing the right care home for an older relative is not always easy, and it’s important to ask good questions when visiting for the first time.
Your questions will probably cover all sorts of things, such as activities within the care home, opportunities for exercise and therapies, the rooms, care for specific health needs, eating and drinking, funding – all sorts.
Leaving a relative in a care home can be challenging for the whole family, and good communications with the home – and within the home – is vital for peace of mind all round.
In today’s article we’ve adapted chapter 8 of our e-guide, How To Choose A Care Home, and outlined 10 things to ask a care home about various issues to do with communication…
- When you visit, notice any particularly vulnerable, poorly or challenging residents. How do members of staff interact and communicate with them? If you were that resident, would you be happy with the nature of the interaction you’re seeing, and the time members of staff are spending with them?
- Are there residents with speech impairment, such as people with Parkinson’s and other neurological diseases? What kind of two-way communication is there between staff and these residents? And do staff give residents time to get their words out?
- Is there a residents’ association? How does this work? It may not matter if there isn’t one, but it’s worth asking. The best people to provide feedback on a care home are the people who live there.
- Does the home organise relatives meetings? It’s very important for relatives to know what’s happening at the home – and to have some kind of forum for asking questions and raising concerns, if residents are unable to.
- Is there a written complaints procedure?And who is responsible for following up/resolving complaints? Have you met that person?
- Is there a suggestions box? Who submits ideas – and who reviews them? How many have been implemented recently?
- Notice the different nationalities and accents/languages amongst staff – and residents. Will there be any problems understanding staff – or staff understanding residents?
- What happens when residents receive post or phone calls? Does each room have its own phone – with a direct number? If not, is there a private room where residents can make and take calls? And if someone is physically or mentally unable to open their own post or hold a phone in their hand, how are they helped to do this?
- Is there a suitable space for a computer in the residents’ rooms? And is there an Internet connection? You may not think this would be needed, but a computer can be invaluable for things like Skype – to facilitate talking with family, friends and grandchildren, and seeing them on the screen at the same time. It can enrich someone’s life greatly.
- If residents are deaf and use British Sign Language, does anyone else in the home know it?
Read more vital questions to ask when you’re looking for a care home. Explore our e-guide, How To Choose A Care Home.