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Moving An Elderly Person Into A Care Home: What You Need To Do

George Griffiths

28 June 2021

Moving An Elderly Person Into A Care Home: What You Need To Do

George Griffiths

28 June 2021

Dealing with the needs of a loved one or relative can be emotionally challenging.

If you're trying to work out the details of moving an elderly person into a care home, our first advice would be to accept all the help you're offered!

It should be all hands on deck when assessing the quality of local care homes, packing up belongings, and ensuring your family member is on board with every decision made about their care.

Determining that your parent or relative isn't well enough to cope alone or that you don't have the resources to care for them around the clock is always a big decision.

But, ultimately, it's about protecting everybody's welfare, safety, emotional health and happiness.

In this guide, we have collated some practical guidance and tips to help you understand all the steps involved in moving an elderly relative into a care home.

When is it time to move an elderly relative into care?

Let's start with the first question - is it the right time?

The reality is that it's very much dependent on the needs of your loved one and your circumstances.

However, you don't have to make standalone decisions.

You have the right to request a Care Needs Assessment from your local authority; these can take a few weeks, but will mean a social worker will provide a professional opinion about the best care options.

Suppose you have an elderly relative who doesn't have the mental capacity to make decisions.

In that case, you can still be mindful of their preferences, lifestyle and personality when selecting the care you feel they'd be most comfortable with.

Many families feel guilt and worry about moving a relative into a care home, but it's often the best decision for everybody:

  • Finding an excellent care facility can ease a significant strain on finances, time, and mental energy and ensure an older person never feels a burden
  • Care homes and nursing homes offer a vast range of specialised support. This can include medical care, social activities, and opportunities for the family to remain heavily involved in their relative's care

If there are challenges with the ability of your elderly relative to care for themselves or for you to meet their needs, an outstanding care home can likely meet those requirements with greater ease.

How do I choose a care home for my relative?

This is often the next big dilemma - how can you choose a care home where you know the carers will look after your loved one properly?

There are many ways to make sure you get an elderly person into a home that provides exceptional care:

  • The Elderly Accommodation Counsel (EAC) is a nationwide charity, helping older adults make decisions about their care and living arrangements. They offer a free helpline called FirstStop, which is open to carers and individuals looking for local knowledge
  • Housing Care is run by the EAC and provides a database of over 40,000 retirement facilities; it also has a Home Services Directory to help you assess the assistance on offer in your nearby area
  • Age UK offers videos and checklists you can bring with you when viewing care homes and advice about questions to ask during those visits
  • You can check the Care Quality Commission database to view their reports about your shortlisted care homes and see how well they score on each assessment criteria

In short, if you're concerned about moving an elderly person into a care home that you are comfortable with, there is a wealth of resources out there to help.

We'd always recommend visiting a care home in person; this means you can take a look at the standard of the rooms, outdoor spaces, social events and activities first-hand.

How do you get an elderly person into a care home of your choice?

Now, if you have an assessment that supports your understanding that your loved one will be best in a care home, they are happy with the decision, and you've found a fantastic local facility - what do you do next?

A lot depends on whether you're paying for the care home privately or looking for support with the costs.

Here's how it works:

  • If a Care Needs Assessment results in a recommendation to move the person to a care home, the local authority will also provide a means test. That test looks at income and capital to see whether you are eligible for financial help
  • For eligible families, the council will calculate the cost and tell you how much you need to contribute, if anything
  • The NHS also funds nursing home placements if the relative's needs are primarily around their health. This process is called NHS Continuing Healthcare (NHS CHC) and usually covers 100% of the care costs

Care charges vary considerably, depending on your location and whether your loved one needs any specialist support. The UK averages are between £600 and £800 a week.

If you pay for a care home privately, you can discuss the moving in date directly and have complete discretion over your chosen care home.

That helps to construct a comprehensive care plan before moving your elderly relative into the care home.

Can I choose a care home for my relative if it's council funded?

Where families qualify for financial support, they still have the right to choose the care home their relative moves to.

There are conditions, but the council has an obligation to try and find accommodation in the home you select, provided:

  • Your choice of a care home is appropriate to the needs of the individual
  • The care home has a place available
  • That care facility is happy to correspond with the local council

If you choose a care home that offers incredible facilities but is more expensive than the local authority can offer to finance, you can also opt to top up the fees.

That means you still get the financial support you're entitled to and your first choice of a care home.

However, in that scenario, the council needs to demonstrate an alternative care home, offering suitable support, which would cost less and be within the amount they can finance.

For more information about requesting a Care Needs Assessment for your loved one, visit the NHS Needs Assessment page. Here, you can also find contact numbers for support and advice.

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