Care Home Planning - the Four Fundamentals

Don't pick a care home without considering these four fundamentals. Debbie Harris from Chosen with Care explains

Short of a mortgage and raising kids, choosing a care home can be one of biggest financial outlays in a person's life, so it's vital to be prepared. These four fundamental factors may sound obvious, but it's amazing how many times one or more are missed, says Debbie Harris from Autumna.

1. Location

Think carefully about where the care home should be located. There are 17,600 in the UK and you don't want to be trawling all over the place.

  • Identify the area nearest to the person who is most likely (or able) to visit them until the end of their life. They're much more likely to pop in for a cup of tea if they're round the corner than a two hour round trip.
  • Remember the reality is that, even with the best will in the world, friends are not relatives. They might visit for a few months or even a couple of years but then they themselves become elderly and stop visiting.

2. Type of care

In a nutshell, consider if your relative will need 'residential' or 'nursing' care and what they may need in the future? Don't be afraid to ask a doctor's advice if necessary and take time to establish what your loved one is going to need throughout their later life.

  • If dementia is a consideration, establish the type of dementia and the symptoms they will, most likely, display as the illness progresses as this can vary from mild forgetfulness to challenging behaviour. It's important to understand the type of dementia a home can cope with and what level their current relatives have.
  • Some care homes have dual registrations so that residents can move from residential care to nursing care once their needs increase.

3. Price

If you are Local Authority (LA) funded, then the LA will give you a couple of choices and you will be required to pick from those. The Authority will then pay for that care as long as the person meets their criteria.

  • However most people need to pay for care. If the money runs out, then the care home is the wrong choice.
  • For self-funded places, it's critical to understand how much you can afford and for how long. Some homes need up to four years' funds to offer a place. Fee advice for care is highly specialised so make sure that you talk to advisors who are qualified Society of Later Life Advisers (SOLA) - it's a specific accreditation that goes beyond the normal requirements of a financial adviser.

4. Availability

  • It's important to be aware of the fact that you cannot pre-book a room in a care home. When the need arises, you have to call up and see if a room is available. It's critical to do your research early to allow time for any necessary financial, physical or mental assessments.
  • Once you have identified two or three care homes that are suitable, you'll then be prepared and able to call those when the need for a room arises.