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Care for older people: asking the right questions

Putting the care of your older loved one in the hands of another can be a daunting prospect. As much as the CQC ratings can help you evaluate performance, and a show around can put your mind at rest, you’ll want to be sure any potential care home has the skills and experience needed to care for your relative effectively.

Here are some of the key questions to ask when you meet with potential carers, which should serve to reassure you, and ensure you are picking the right place for their needs:

How will you meet the needs of my loved one?

Every older person has specific requirements and needs that must be fulfilled by their care workers. Whether they struggle with mobility problems, have cognitive issues to consider, or special dietary requirements, you need to be certain that your chosen care home can accommodate them effectively. Even little things like allowing your loved one to get up and go to bed when they prefer, rather than when the care home decides they should, can make the transition so much easier.

What are the visitor policies?

A care home should be just that; a home. Ideally, there should be very little limitation on when you can visit, and you should be allowed to bring other family members, games, food and other things, just as you would if your relative was living independently. Here at Westgate Healthcare, we actively encourage visitors to spend time with their loved ones, offering support to ensure they have plenty of contact with their friends and family. From popping in for a game of scrabble to having Christmas dinner together, this contact is so important and should not be obstructed by awkward visiting policies.

How can we share our views on the service?

A good care home should seek to engage with both the resident and their family regularly, to enable them to improve their service and make the resident as happy as possible. Some care homes offer regular meetings, others will have suggestion boxes or feedback forms.

Can we make any changes to the room?

Residents will be happier and more comfortable if they can make their own mark on their room. This may mean bringing in photographs or favourite pieces of art; it could even mean shipping over their much-loved armchair. A great care home will encourage residents to bring the things they need to make their room homelier, and may even allow redecoration to some extent, to help make their surroundings as comfortable as possible.

What’s included in the fees?

Be wary about care homes who seem to offer excellent facilities for not very much money, as you might find a lot of the services come at an additional cost. Here at Westgate, our fees include the 24-hour care package, accommodation, housekeeping, catering and security services, amongst others. We may charge small additional fees for things like hairdressing, phone calls and specialist outings, but all the essentials are included in the package fee you will be quoted.

There will, undoubtedly, be many more questions you need to ask, many of which will be specific to the needs of your loved one. However, by getting these five essential questions out of the way early on, you can be sure your potential care home is setting out on the right foot to be a great place for your loved one to live.

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