63, London

Pamela’s mother is 91 and has dementia. Pamela explains how she looked into self-financing a care home at the same time as choosing the right home for her mother.

"The point that it got very scary was when I discovered from a neighbour that my mother had gone out at 11pm thinking she needed to go home. That worried me a lot.

Over the next six weeks this happened another three or four times in different ways. I was in email contact with her elderly care consultant and talking about it with him. He had mentioned sheltered accommodation to her earlier in the year when we first began to get a little bit concerned about confusion and memory loss. He said to me, ‘I think maybe your mother needs to go into a residential home instead.’

Getting advice about financing care homes

'My son and I did some research into care fee annuities, I read up about it and we talked to a couple of financial advisers.'

My son and I did some research into care fee annuities [also known as an immediate need care fee payment plan]. We spoke to different people and I read up about it. We talked to a couple of financial advisers, and I found two or three people on the internet who you could have a chat with. I think there was an ulterior motive in the sense that they wanted you to go through them to organise the annuity, but they were very good at discussing it with us. Some of the figures were a bit scary, but these care homes are a bit scary in what they cost.

I do think personal recommendation helps, but I think you need to try and get as much information as you can. Talk. Don’t feel you have to just bear it on your own. Talk to people about it because you can pick up little tips and hints by just even a casual remark by somebody, and it helps.

Choosing the right care home

We’d all agreed that we had to find the right home and, in fact, when you look at the cost, in this area there isn’t a massive difference between them. One I looked at was £100 a day and the one my mother is currently in is £140 a day. That isn’t a massive difference financially, but there was a massive difference for us in the care and the situation. What was most important for us was the place where we felt she would be happy, well looked after and cared for.

I actually looked at five places because I wanted to try and find the one that I thought my mother would be happy and content in. Once we’d made the decision, they invited my mother and me to go and have lunch. I didn’t tell her why we were going to lunch before we went because I didn’t want her to be nervous. We went, then while we were there she said, ‘This is lovely, isn’t it?’

We have got my mother happily settled into the care home. I have to say the weight of responsibility weighed on my shoulders quite a lot during the choosing and in that first month or so, but that is probably me, I just am somebody who just wants to look after my family.'"

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Page last reviewed: 30 November 2015
Next review due: 28 February 2017