Living in a Care or Nursing Home
Moving an elderly parent into a residential care or nursing home is a major decision and not one to be taken lightly. There are financial, welfare and psychological aspects to be considered and very often it is a last resort. Sending elderly parents to a care or nursing home often makes people feel very guilty, quite apart from the effect it has on the parent, so think very carefully. It is also a decision that has to be taken together, so include you, your parents and any other relatives and close friends of your parents who are likely to be affected.
The difference between care homes and residential homes is the type of need your elderly parent has. If they need help in doing things because their mobility is restricted or for some other reason, they will require a care home. If, on the other hand, they have a condition that requires medical supervision, they will need a nursing home. Understandably, the latter are more expensive.
Under the Care in the Community legislation, elderly and disabled people have a legal right to a full assessment of their needs and a written care plan from Social Services, so if you want this help, contact your local Social Services office. The assessment must look at help that can be provided to keep the person in their own home and, if services such as home help are required, they must be provided. Read the two pages in this Guide, Living in their Own Home and Living with You to learn a bit more about what this might involve.
The advantages of care for older people in care or nursing homes are:
The disadvantages are:
The payment rules and arrangements for care or nursing homes are complex and you will need to contact your local Social Services office, who will explain them to you. Basically, they will help pay towards the cost of homes run by your local council or by independent people providing your elderly parent has less than ?23,000 if they live in England or Northern Ireland, £22,500 in Scotland and £22,000 in Wales (2010 figures). The financial situation will be part of the assessment that is mentioned above; you can choose not to have the financial part of the assessment but that means that your elderly parent will receive no financial help.
Choosing a Care or Nursing Home
Choosing the right nursing home is obviously the most important decision you have to make, once you have all decided that your elderly parent should move into a home. You must do your research and make sure, as far as you can, that you make the right decision; having to move from home to home can be very traumatic for elderly people and it is not something that they should have to do. Personal recommendation is obviously the best way to find a home but even then you must go and look at it carefully, question the staff and make sure that it is suitable for your parent.
There are a number of guides to care and nursing homes and you will find them if you go to Amazon.co.uk and type in 'Good Care Homes Guides'. Your local Social Services department should be able to supply you with a list of homes in your area and there are a number of agencies that can help:
You should also go to the laterlife page on Nursing, Residential and Care homes, which has some more very useful information.
When you are looking for a home to care for your elderly parent, try drawing up a list of criteria against which you can measure the homes you look at. People will have different criteria for their elderly parents, but below are some that you might want to think about:
Get as much information as possible on all of the topics that are important to you and your elderly parent and then match each of the homes you see against that information. Don't be taken in by grand furnishings and facilities; they are important but so are atmosphere, care and the lifestyle that is on offer. You should be able to get a feel for the home the moment you step inside it - the atmosphere, the smell and so on. The key thing is that your elderly parent will feel at home.
It's a huge decision to send your elderly parent to a care or nursing home. You will probably feel guilty that you are making it/have made it. However, if you can honestly say that you have done everything possible to find the best home for your elderly parent, depending on them and their personality, then there is no need for guilt.
One other thing you can do is to let the staff know who your elderly parent used to be, not who they are now they are perhaps old and frail.
Now read the pages of the Guide that you haven't already read in order to get a comprehensive insight into caring for elderly parents.
This Guide is written by Retirement Specialist Dave Sinclair supported by members of the LaterLife team.