Choosing a care home
What is a care home?
Moving into a care home may be an option for you if you need more care and support than can be provided in your own home. Care homes provide you with a bedroom with possible en-suite facilities, communal areas and meals.
One of the first options you have to consider when choosing residential care is whether you need nursing care, or just standard personal care, as different care homes provide different types of care.
Care homes in Newcastle are run either as commercial businesses, by not-for-profit organisations, or by Newcastle City Council, and are all registered and inspected by the Care Quality Commission.
My Care Newcastle is the directory of the organisations that are contracted by Newcastle City Council to provide your care and support, including care homes.
Residential care (care homes with personal care)
Residential care homes provide some personal care and support including:
- help with things such as dressing
- supervision of medication
- someone on call during the night
Residential care homes don’t provide constant nursing care, only personal care during short periods of illness.
Nursing homes (care homes with nursing care)
Care homes that are registered to provide nursing care provide personal and nursing care 24 hours a day for people who are bedridden, very frail or have a medical condition that means they need regular attention from a nurse.
Care homes with dementia care
Care homes with dementia care were previously known as EMI homes. They provide specialist dementia nursing care 24 hours a day for older people living with dementia.
Making a decision about going into a care home
Before deciding to move into a care home, it is important to seek advice to help you decide if this is the best choice for you.
You might want to consider other less disruptive and potentially less costly options, including:
You should also consider whether you really need the amount of care on offer at a care home. Alternatives such as Extra care housing or Retirement accommodation offer independence with an increased level of care and support.
Discuss your needs
You may already be in touch with Community Health & Social Care Direct, but if not you can contact them to discuss your options.
They can arrange a Needs Assessment for you, which will find out what sort of care and support you might need.
Following the assessment, your social worker or health worker will advise you whether you meet the criteria for a place in a care home and then help you decide which home you want to move into.
Temporary accommodation and trial periods
A stay in a care home does not have to be permanent. You might want to stay in a care home for a short period to give your carer a break, to try out living in a care home for a ‘trial period’, or to build up your strength after an illness. This is called respite care.
Some care homes allocate specific beds for respite care; others accept residents for respite if they have a vacancy.
What about my partner?
Moving into a care home together
If you and your spouse have decided that both of you need to move to a care home, the idea of living apart may be unimaginable, or heart-breaking.
However, moving into a care home doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be separated. The challenge is to find a care home where you can move together with all your specific needs met.
Many homes are dual registered, which means they provide both nursing and residential care that can be tailored to each of you individually.
If only one of you moves into a care home
If you feel only one of you needs to move to a care home, this can be a difficult decision. You may feel guilty because you can no longer manage to take care of all your partner’s needs. You might also be anxious about how to maintain your relationship once your partner goes into a new setting, apart from the family home.
Care homes are used to supporting the partner who remains at home while their spouse goes into a care setting. When looking for the right care home, it is important to ask questions like:
- can I join my partner for lunch every day? You may be asked to pay for your own meal but ask about the cost
- can I stay all day or are there any restrictions?
- How possible will it be for us to spend time together as we would do at home, rather than in rooms shared with others?
- Can I join in with some of the social activities that the care home run, like daytrips or games?
There is a great deal of variation in care homes, so finding one that you both feel happy with is important.
Things to think about when choosing a care home
To find the right care home for you, you may want to think about the following questions before making a decision.
- What the care fee includes. Will there be any extra costs?
- The location of the home. Is it easy for visitors to get to and for you to get out and about from?
Making your own choices
- Will I be encouraged to be as independent as possible and make my own choices?
- Can I choose what and when I will eat? Do they cater for special diets? Can I eat privately with guests from time to time? Can I prepare any food and drinks for myself?
- Am I free to see visitors when and where I choose? Can visitors stay overnight?
- Can I get up and go to bed when I choose? If not, will I be happy with the arrangement that is in place?
- Will the managers of the home ask how I would like to handle my money or medicines?
- Can I keep my own GP?
- Are toilets available in all parts of the home? Are they fully equipped with handrails and other helpful equipment?
- Can wheelchairs go everywhere within the home, and can they get easily in and out? Is there a lift?
- If I need help with bathing, does the home have suitable facilities? Who will help me bathe? Can I choose how often or when I have a bath or shower?
- Is there more than one living room so that there is a quiet room as well as one with a television?
- Is there an outdoor area and garden? Does it feel safe and secure?
- How does the home keep vaulable items?
- Are there regular visiting services, such as hairdressers, chiropodists or ministers?
- What is the view from my room?
- Can I bring in personal possessions, such as pictures, plants and small items of furniture?
- Can I use a telephone in privacy, for incoming and outgoing calls? Can I have my own direct telephone number?
- Does the home have a nice atmosphere? Do the residents and staff seem content?
- Can I control my own heating?
- Will I be allowed to bring my pet with me to the home?
Things to do
- Does the home arrange activities or outings? For example, to the shops, to a place of worship, or entertainment?
- What physical activities are available for residents?
- Are there books and newspapers available? Do residents visit the library, or does a mobile library come to the home?
- Is there a residents? committee?
- Does the home encourage residents to say how they feel about living there, and provide written information about how to discuss a problem or make a complaint?
- Can I help with ordinary activities in the home, for example with cleaning, cooking or gardening?
Meeting your specific needs as an individual or as a couple
- what experience does the home have of caring for couples with different care needs – what can they offer specifically to support us?
- Are we able to stay together or will we have to live in separate rooms or even separate sections of the care home?
- How will they help me if I’ve been the carer for my spouse but now feel my role has been ‘taken away’?
- Can the home meet my communication needs, for example, if my first language isn’t English, if I use sign language, of if I need information in large print?
- What happens if I should need more or less care than I usually have? Might I have to leave?
- What arrangements are made for funerals, and for payment if I die?
- How will the home let relatives or friends know if I am taken ill?
- Does the home meet my relationship needs? Could my spouse or partner stay overnight in my room?
Making your choice of care home
There are a number of care homes in Newcastle that you can choose from that match your needs, depending upon availability.
If Community Health & Social Care Direct agree that a care home is good option for you they will try their best to accommodate you in the care home of your choice as long as:
- the home meets the needs identified from your needs assessment;
- the home does not charge more than the price Newcastle City Council would normally pay for a person with your needs;
- there is a space available for you in the home; and
- the accommodation provider is willing to enter into a contract on Newcastle City Council’s usual terms.
Care Quality Commission has a list of all registered care homes in Newcastle. They provide free, independent reports on the quality of homes to help you make an informed choice.
Better Caring list registered care homes and provide information and advice about finding the right care home for you.
How much will I have to pay to stay in a care home?
Most people will be expected to pay something towards the costs of their accommodation and personal care.
Being part of a couple can affect your eligibility for financial help owing to your joint savings.
Visit the Age UK website for more information.
If Newcastle City Council is involved in helping you find a care home, following your Needs assessment they will carry out a Financial assessment to work out how much you have to pay towards your care home fees, and how much financial support you are eligible for.
Visit Paying for care for more information.
Living in a care home
Once you move into a care home, it can take a little while for you to settle in. However, if you are worried about anything in particular, or are not sure about any aspect of life in your new home, talk to a member of staff about your concerns. Getting any sort of problem out in the open is usually the best way of solving it.
Inside a Care Home are videos produced by Age UK, which feature three women speaking about what it’s actually like to live in a care home.
What if things go wrong?
If you feel something has gone wrong, you will need to make a formal complaint to the care home.
Care Quality Commission is the independent regulator of care homes. You can give feedback on care homes on their website. They will check to make sure the provider deals with your complaint and learns from it. You can report this anonymously to them if you prefer.
Complaining to Adult Services article may be useful if your care service is provided by Newcastle City Council.
Other Useful Information
- NHS online has a guide for people who have care and support needs, their carers and people who are planning for their future care needs.
- Finding a care home – Age UK factsheet
- PayingForCare is a national information and advice service helping older peoplemake informed choices when faced with having to pay for their own care.
Last updated: October 15, 2018