When choosing a care home for your loved one, there are a number of things you should consider. We’ve produced a guide on things you should look out for when viewing care homes, helping you to choose one that will offer great quality of care, an enjoyable lifestyle and convenient for friends and family to visit.
Choosing the right location
It is important that family members maintain relationships with their loved one, but the home that is best for them may not be the nearest. At Hallmark Care Homes we encourage relatives to visit regularly and keep in touch with events and activities in the home. For family members who live some distance away, be sure to ask whether the care home team can help your loved one stay in touch. Our team members can assist residents to use Skype or Facetime, meaning it’s easy to keep in touch.
It’s also important to consider transport links for the care homes you’re viewing. Is the home near to local amenities that your loved one can reach on foot? Is there a minibus or taxi service that they can use? What about transport links for friends and family to visit – is the home easy to get to, close to local train stations or main roads? It’s always a good idea to ask the team at the care home you’re viewing about what transport is available.
Choosing the right type of care
It’s essential to ensure that you choose a care home that can cater for your loved one’s specific needs, even if they change over time. At Hallmark Care Homes, we typically offer the following types of care:
Residential care focuses on maintaining lifestyle choices and empowering people to enjoy their lives with discreet and sensitive care and support to retain their choices, personal preferences and independence. Our thriving residential communities enable residents to sustain and build new friendships and relationships both within and outside of the care community.
Nursing care is dedicated to supporting people with both simple and complex nursing needs. Our nursing communities have 24 hour nurse leadership, supporting a care team with expertise, skills and knowledge. Our registered nurses tailor our care planning and care delivery to the unique and individual nursing needs of the people we care for. Nursing care is carefully assessed and a collaborative care plan is tailored and agreed to all of the needs of the individual. Our nurses work closely with our local multidisciplinary teams of doctors, community nurses, social workers, dieticians, physiotherapists and alternative holistic practitioners to ensure the best outcomes to meet individual care needs.
Dementia care is dedicated to maintaining a quality of life for each individual that reflects their personality and life choices, recognising the uniqueness of the person and responding to their individual needs with dignity and respect. Our approach is feelings-based to reflect the reality of the experiences of the people who live with us.
We also recommend asking the team at the care homes you’re viewing whether they can accommodate any special care needs. At Hallmark Care Homes, prior to admission, each resident has a meeting with one of the care team or the registered manager. This is called an assessment and is used to determine the extent of an individual’s needs and the home’s ability to meet them. Once a resident has moved into one of our care homes, their care plan is reviewed regularly to meet changing needs, so you can be sure that they’re in safe hands, no matter how their requirements change.
Families and friends form an important part of our relationships in these communities and we offer regular forums and educational sessions to support them with their loved one.
What healthcare treatment will they receive?
It’s also worth asking about the healthcare treatment that your loved one will receive, even if they don’t have any specialist care needs. At Hallmark Care Homes, we regularly organise for dentists, opticians and podiatrists to visit the residents at the home. All residents are registered with a local GP Practice and our team work with the GPs, district nurses and community psychiatric nurses to support the residents’ ongoing health needs.
Is there an easy to use call system at the care home?
For peace of mind, it’s essential to know how easy it is for your loved one to call a member of the team if they need any assistance. Be sure to ask whether the care home you’re viewing has a call system, making this easy. All Hallmark Care Homes have a call system with call points in all bedrooms, as well as in communal areas throughout the home. Some residents also wear pendants which enable them to call a member of the team from all areas of the home.
What are the team members like?
We value people and our relationship with them as our greatest asset at Hallmark Care Homes, which is why we place a great emphasis on ensuring our care team perform to the highest professional standards. We believe the care team can make a real difference to the experience that your loved one will have, and so we recommend finding out about the team when viewing care homes in your local area.
We have a rigorous selection process to ensure we recruit people with not only the right skills but who also embody the Hallmark Care Homes Charter. Our team members are dedicated to developing quality environments and high standards of care, which enable residents to enjoy life to the full, as individuals, in happy, comfortable, and safe surroundings.
Be sure to check that care team members are polite and respect the dignity of residents by knocking before entering their rooms, and in the way they address and engage with residents. Ask yourself whether it seems like the team members you meet make an effort to get to know the residents and take an interest in their lives.
We promise not to forget this is our residents’ home. When a resident moves in, we ask the resident or their loved one to fill out an ‘About Me’ booklet which asks them questions about their routine, health, hobbies, and family life. Our care is relationship centred and this booklet is a starting point for us to get to know individuals and tailor care and activities to their individual needs and preferences.
What is daily life like?
When viewing care homes, we recommend making sure your loved one will be comfortable in their surroundings and enjoy daily life at their new home. Be sure to ask to see the room that your loved one may be offered. Is there an en-suite bathroom? Is there specialist equipment like hoists and grab rails, and is the care team trained to use them? And can residents bring their own furniture?
Most residents at our homes choose to bring one or two special items with which to furnish their room and we encourage everyone to personalise their bedroom with photographs, pictures and ornaments. Upholstered furniture and electrical items brought into the home are tested to ensure they meet current safety requirements.
We also recommend considering what might happen if their needs change – would your loved one have to change rooms? We want to ensure residents are located within the home where we can offer the best and most appropriate care for their needs, but if they need to change rooms for whatever reason, we would only suggest this after a discussion with you and your loved one.
We want residents to feel as though their home is theirs. This is why we suggest residents bring their own TV for use in their room and give them access to wi-fi for keeping in touch with friends and family online. A garden can also make care home life more enjoyable, which is why gardening is a major part of our lifestyles programme. Across our Hallmark family of homes we actively encourage our residents to get involved and make use of their outdoor space, whether they are planting pots or just sitting in the garden and joining in with the conversation.
Visitors are also welcome at any time, and can join our residents for a meal for a small charge. Some of our homes also offer visitor facilities, so don’t forget to ask the team about these when you visit!
What leisure activities are available?
It’s important that your loved one can get on with the daily routine they are used to, as well as having ample opportunities to get to know other residents and take part in their favourite activities.
As part of our relationship centred care approach, residents are free to make their own choices and their routines are respected. We also have a full activities programme running seven days a week, organised by a dedicated team. We offer a range of activities which stimulate the mind, body and soul and are tailored to the needs and interests of each individual resident.
Our activities are focused on what residents enjoy and are familiar with – suggestions are always welcome! Popular activities among our residents include:
- ‘Knit & Natter’ sessions
- Flower arranging
- Sing-a-long sessions
- Tai Chi
- Arts and crafts
On top of these activities, we organise regular trips out so that residents are still able to engage with the local community.
Good food is an important part of life at a care home, which is why we take pride in the quality of our award-winning chefs at Hallmark Care Homes; some have won national awards for the fine dining experience they provide and for catering to residents’ individual tastes and requirements. There’s also the opportunity for residents to take part in cooking, so they can continue to enjoy their passion for food once they have moved in.
Our chefs prepare attractive, appetising, nutritionally balanced meals, with menus that are under constant review, following regular meetings between our chefs and residents. Our wide range of menus are designed to suit the needs of our residents, which includes special preferences and dietary requirements.
Furthermore, we recommend asking what time meals are served. As we place a great emphasis on ensuring that our residents can continue with the routines they’re used to, we can take a flexible approach to mealtimes to suit residents’ individual needs.
Cost of the Care Home
Covering the cost of care Naturally, the cost of care is an important factor when choosing a care home. At Hallmark Care Homes, costs vary depending on the level of care that your loved one requires. We recommend speaking to the team at your home of choice for more information.
We strongly recommend you seek independent financial advice from a properly qualified advisor. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has a qualification, CF8, for dealing with long term care. We recommend you use a financial adviser that is certified with this qualification.
SOLLA also provide a free advisory service, you can visit their website to find out more information on their services.
Some residents may also be able to receive funding from their local authority. This will depend on both their financial situation and health needs. If a social worker has been appointed to support your loved one, they will be able to provide further information, and our care team can also advise.