There’s a lot to consider, when choosing the right care home for your loved one. In this guide we’ll run through our Choosing a Care Home checklist of what to look out for during viewings, so that you can choose one that offers amazing care as well as a lifestyle which your loved one will enjoy.
When finding the right care home, it could be easy to assume that the one closest to where your relative lives might be the best bet – that’s not always the case. We think having family and friends visit loved ones to maintain relationships is really important, so you might want to factor that into your research.
If you’re used to living a bit further away from your loved one, then our teams are always happy to help you keep in touch. Whether that’s writing letters with your loved one, or hopping on a video call through Messenger, Whatsapp or Facetime.
Local transport links are really important for any homes you’re viewing too. Can your loved one pop to the shops on foot? Does the home have a minibus for trips and doctor’s appointments? Can younger relatives get there easily by train or bus?
We recommend asking the team at any care home you visit what the transport connections are like nearby.
Care homes usually specialise in a few specific areas of care. When choosing the right care home, it’s important you opt for one which can cater for your loved one’s needs today, and as they change in future.
Residential care focuses on supporting people to maintain their lifestyle and empowering them to enjoy their lives with support and care available, should they need it. Our lively residential communities enable residents to sustain and build new friendships and relationships both within and outside of the care community, maintaining choices, personal preferences and independence.
Nursing care means having dedicated support available for any nursing needs. Our nursing communities have 24-hour nurse leadership, supporting our care teams with expertise, skills and knowledge. Our registered nurses ensure care is planned and tailored to the individual needs of the people we care for. Our nurses work closely with our local teams of doctors, community nurses, social workers, dieticians, physiotherapists and more to ensure we meet everyone’s needs.
Dementia care focuses on maintaining quality of life for our residents. While we know dementia makes some things challenging, we want to continue to support their personality, interests and life choices. Our team will make every moment matter.
Before admission at Athena Care Homes, each resident has a meeting with one of our team. This is an assessment and is where we consider your loved one’s needs and whether we can meet them. If your loved one has any special care needs which you think are worth mentioning, this is when we need to know.
This plan is reviewed regularly once a resident is in our care home to ensure any changing needs are met. You can be sure your loved ones are in safe hands, no matter how their needs change. Families and friends are really important throughout this process and we host regular forums and educational sessions to help support you.
When choosing the right care home, it is worth having an idea of what healthcare treatment is available at a care home – even if your loved one doesn’t have any specialist needs at the moment. At Athena Care Homes, we regularly organise for dentists, opticians and podiatrists to visit the residents of our homes. We also register all residents with a local GP practice and our team works with the GPs, district nurses and community psychiatric nurses to support our residents’ ongoing health needs.
Part of your care home checklist should include call support within the home. Having peace of mind is really important for you and your loved one. It’s essential to know how easy it is for your loved one to call for support if they need assistance. Be sure to ask any prospective care home about their call system when you have a visit. All Athena Care Homes have a call system with call points in all bedrooms throughout the home. Some residents also have pendants which enable them to call a member of the team from all areas of the home.
People and relationships are really important in care, and so are a priority on any care home checklist. At Athena Care Homes, our team is an extended part of our residents’ family. Having exceptional professional standards, we believe our team makes a real difference in the experiences our residents have. No matter which care home you’re viewing, it’s worth having a good chat with the team and meeting as many of them as you can.
At Athena, we have rigorous selection processes for our team and we make sure everyone believes in our values: Dignity, Integrity, Excellence, Teamwork and Creativity. Our team will work hard to develop an environment with exceptional care, where our residents are content, where every moment matters and everyone feels safe, comfortable and happy.
In any home you visit, be sure to check the team are kind, polite and respect the dignity of residents. Here, actions speak louder than words. Examples include knocking before entering rooms, and taking the time to speak with all of the residents. Check that you’re happy that the teams know the residents and are taking an interest in them. This is a key part of moving into our homes. Our team will get to know your loved one, noting down details of their routine, health, hobbies, and family life. This is our window into our resident’s world before we get to know them better.
Part of the care home checklist, when viewing prospective homes, is whether your loved one will be comfortable in their surroundings and that they’ll enjoy daily life in their new home.
Ask to have a look at the type of room your loved one is likely to be offered. See if there’s an ensuite bathroom; whether there are lots of grab rails, if your loved one isn’t steady on their feet; and see what personal belongings your loved one can bring with them to put their own stamp on their new home.
It’s normal to be able to bring a few special items, like a favourite arm chair and electricals which meet the current safety ratings, to decorate a room and we really encourage your loved one to bring their favourite photographs, pictures and ornaments.
It’s also important for the new home to maintain connections with the outside world. Whether that’s bringing a TV for use in their room, or a connected device to keep in touch with friends and family through our Wi-Fi.
A lot of our residents love their gardening – thankfully so do we! Our home have beautiful gardens which our residents can help us look after and we’ll always make the most of our outdoor space. We often grow our own plants from seeds and some of our homes have vegetable patches and kitchen gardens too. The gardens are also brilliant places to host guests!
Visitors are always welcome, but please make sure if government restrictions are in place, that these are followed for the safety of all our residents and other visitors.
While our residents have their own unique daily routines and plenty of time to take part in any activities they’d like to, we deliver a full programme of activities seven days a week courtesy of our amazing Lifestyle teams.
They put on a range of activities to keep the mind, body and soul active and taking into account everyone’s needs and interests. Suggestions are always welcome and activities and preferences vary between homes, but our most popular activities are usually:
We also have fantastic connections with our local community and where possible we have entertainment visit, trips away and partnerships with local schools and community groups.
Food is such an important part of everyone’s day and it’s easy to underestimate how important food is. Most of us eat three meals a day with some snacks in between to keep us fed and watered, but meals are so much more. We all have different tastes, we all eat at different times and we all eat with different people.
At our homes, our talented chefs create varied and exciting meals from scratch each day. Making different options depending on your dietary preferences, your taste and ensuring a great balance of nutrition and flavour!
This is a really important part of your loved one’s care and is a significant part of any care home checklist. The costs of care vary depending on your loved one’s specific needs and it is important that you talk to the team so that we can give you an informed guide on costs.
It’s always worth speaking to an independent financial advisor if you’re funding care yourself. You ideally need to speak to someone with a CF8 qualification, which is specifically for long term care advice.
Some residents may also be able to receive funding from their local authority. This will depend on both their financial situation and health needs. If a social worker has been appointed to support your loved one, they will be able to provide further information, and our care team can also help.
When choosing the right care home, there’s a lot to think about for you and your loved one. If you keep our Choosing a Care Home checklist in mind then you can look out for these key areas to find a new home which offers exceptional care, and a lifestyle which your loved one will continue to enjoy.
If you have any questions about our care home checklist or need any further advice, please get in touch here.