Moving into long-term care

My parent needs to move into long-term care – what should I think about?

Request a Community Care Assessment from the local Adult Social Services. They will then be able to advise on finances and what sort of home to look for. It is advisable for you to look at the homes first without your parent; but take a friend or relative to get a second opinion and for support as it can be very emotional. Try and visit at least three and take a check list with you. For example: do they have rooms with a garden view, is there an outside space that is accessible, do they cook the food on site, what sort of activities do they have and how often? When making the visits make the first one by appointment so you can meet the manager and senior staff. If you think it might be the right one go back unannounced at a lunchtime or busy period to see how the day maps out. Speak to some of the residents and other visitors to see what they think. When you have found the right home and there is a bed, if possible take your parent for a visit – a coffee or lunch so they can see it. You might go a few times to help them get used to the building.

Now think about you. How accessible is the home from you, do you need some extra support over the next few months, especially if you have to close down a family home and put it up for sale? This can be very emotional and draining if there are a lot of possessions to sort out. Get some independent financial advice regarding the sale of the property to assist you with investing the money to pay the monthly bills at the care home. Talk to the home about setting up a Direct Debit and if your parent will need some cash for activities, hairdressing and chiropody, and make the appropriate arrangements. Your parent will need to have their clothes labelled – ask if the home can help with this or give yourself time to complete this task as it can be lengthy. Do not feel you have to visit every day. Give your parent time to settle in and make new relationships and friends in their new living environment.

Set out to work in partnership with the staff at the care home. It is really helpful for the care home to have some photos and a written time line, or life history, about your parent. If they particularly dislike something, and love something else, make sure they know. Most homes encourage some furniture and ornaments etc. from home. Ask if you can prepare the room before your parent goes to live there so things look familiar. Ask to see the care plan and spend some time reading it so you can add things or discuss treatments and care with the staff. Make sure the care home know about any hospital appointments, anniversaries, birthdays etc. that are important to your parent.