Moving into care – what to expect

Head of Research and Clinical Development at Bupa UK
27 September 2016

Moving into a care home can sometimes feel overwhelming– both for new residents and their families alike. As with any major change, it means adapting to a new way of life. But knowing what to expect and taking your time to prepare really helps.

If you’re looking at care options for a loved one, here are some suggestions to make it a smooth transition and positive experience for everyone.

An elderly man playing chess

Choosing a care home

First and foremost is to decide on a home that fits your loved one. Choosing a care home is a huge responsibility and may feel like an overwhelming task. The key here is to do your homework. You, and your relative, will feel more at ease the more confident you are in your decision.

  • Make sure you visit potential homes and be clear on what you’re looking for. Think about that initial impression – how are you greeted? How do you feel when you walk through the door? Ask to see the rooms on offer and the gardens, and speak to the people who live there about their experiences. Many homes will actively encourage you to do this.
  • Find out what goes on in the home. For example the day-to-day routine and extra activities or events the home may be running. It’s worth finding out about how family members can get involved with the home. For instance they may have relative and resident meetings in place.
  • Finally, it’s important to know how they go about supporting new residents.

Check out the regulatory information too. You can read up on a home’s latest inspection report on the Care Quality Commission (CQC) website.

Settling in

Once you’ve decided on a home, it’s time to focus on the transition period as your loved one moves in. Here are my top suggestions to help during those first few days.

  • Your relative might like to have some familiar items to help them feel at home. This can be as simple as a few favourite photos or pictures, or even some familiar pieces of furniture. Just check with the home first to see what they can accommodate.
  • Let your loved one go at their own pace as they move in. Some new residents may be happy to join in every activity going from day one; while others understandably prefer to spend more time alone in their room as they settle in. Give your relative as much time and space as they need.
  • Try to set up good relations with the team looking after your loved one from the start. There is often a “key worker” who will be responsible for introducing them to the routines of the home. Talk to them about your loved one’s life history, family, their likes and dislikes, and personal routines. The more information the care workers have about your loved one, the easier it will be to engage with them and help them to adapt from the start.
  • Most care homes fully encourage a resident’s family to get involved in the home. You might be able to join in a mealtime or activity, helping your loved one to feel at ease in those early days.   

A new way of life

Once your loved one has settled in, you can continue to be as involved with their care as much as you want to be. Keeping up regular communications with the care home will hopefully help to reassure you and ease any worries you may have as they crop up.

Moving into a care home may take some adjustment, but remember to focus on the positive changes both for you and your loved one. Many people find that taking a step back from the day-to-day care means they have more opportunity to just relax and enjoy the time they spend with their loved ones. And that has to be a positive result for everyone.

Paul Edwards
Head of Research and Clinical Development at Bupa UK

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