When to consider a care home
If your loved one’s needs can no longer be met at home, there are benefits to moving to a care home, although there may be downsides, too. Knowing what to expect can help you make realistic decisions.
If you’re beginning to think about choosing a care home for a loved one, our care services directory includes detailed information for all residential and nursing care homes across the UK. You can also filter for specialist support, such as for people with dementia.
The benefits of living in a care home
- Safety: there is always someone around.
- Staff on duty 24/7: in a residential care home, someone is on call at night. In a nursing home, medical care from a qualified nurse is provided 24 hours a day.
- A room of their own: your loved one can usually personalise their room with their own furniture, pictures and ornaments.
- Meals: regular meals provided and nutritional needs met.
- Companionship: opportunities to socialise with others of their own age and take part in organised activities or outings, where available.
- Peace of mind: for you and your family that your loved one is being taken care of and is not living alone.
- Supervision of medication: if this is a problem for your family member, you can feel reassured that it will be taken care of. Our article on medication management systems may also be helpful to read.
- No worries: about household bills or upkeep.
- Better living conditions: the physical environment may be better – safe, warm and clean.
The drawbacks of living in a care home
- Cost: care home fees can be very costly, particularly if the person you’re looking after has to fund their own care. If relying on local authority funding, your family member must be assessed as needing a care home.
- Choice: there may be a limited choice of homes with a vacancy for your loved one, depending on their circumstances.
- Unfamiliar surroundings: moving to somewhere completely new can be unsettling.
- Loneliness: and loss of contact with neighbours and old friends.
- Emotional effect: families can feel guilty that they’re not looking after their loved one themselves, even though this may no longer be practical.
- Your loved one may feel rejected: it can help if you talk things through beforehand, possibly explaining that you or other family members are unable to give them the care that they need. Regular contact once they’ve moved in will also help.
- Loss of independence: although a good home should encourage your loved one to be as independent as they can be.
- Lack of privacy: this might be difficult for your family member to adjust to.
- Small living space: this means your loved one won’t be able to take all of their furniture and personal possessions with them.
- Variations in care: all homes have to achieve a minimum standard to ensure they can be registered, but quality of care may vary from home to home. Doing your research and asking around for recommendations when choosing a care home, should help you avoid the less suitable ones.
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How to make a shortlist of suitable care homes, and uncover key information to ensure your loved one’s needs are met.
Our checklist of questions to ask about care home contracts, from deposits and fees to changes to the terms of service.