Conversations about this usually start with “We don’t want mum/dad to go into a home.” It’s very interesting to explore the reasons for this statement. Most people have no real experience of care homes, so of course their perceptions are fostered by media coverage or perhaps they (and their parent) see care homes synonymous with loss – loss of independence, choice and control, but also of memories and history. There is also a real concern that choosing a care home is accepting ‘second best’.
So how do we promote the idea of care homes as a positive choice; what might be gained from living in a care home? The three things that residents tell me again and again are safety, security and community – from making new friends, feeling safe at night if help is needed and enjoying quality visits from family members, who no longer need to spend time providing care or doing jobs or chores and who can simply enjoy being with their loved one.
For those who do decide that a care home is the right step, the next conversations are often about what to look for in a care home. Care homes are as individual as the people who live in them. It is not really about the building – it is about the quality of the relationships between residents and staff, which underpin good care.
Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection reports can sometimes deter potential residents, but a ‘requires improvement’ grading does not necessarily mean the care home in question won’t be a good place for your mum or dad. If the home has a less than positive CQC report, then how does the home manager respond? If improving and learning are part of the culture of the service, the home is much more likely to deliver quality care than one that is resting on its laurels.
Every day, lives are enhanced by great services in care homes. Families thank staff for the wonderful care they provide in the most challenging and difficult circumstances. That is what we should all be talking about to our families and friends.