Choosing an aged care home for a loved one is an emotional experience. If you have never set foot in a nursing home you could find it very confronting.
There are many things to consider when choosing an aged care home. Everyone’s situation will be unique and aged care homes will vary greatly in design and feel.
Above all, you want to find an aged care home that not only provides the best quality of care but makes you and a family member feel safe, comfortable and at home.
Visiting as many aged care homes as possible can give you an idea of what’s on offer. Expect them all to be different.
If possible take your loved one or another family member with you when visiting an aged care home. Always try and include the person that needs nursing home care in decision making. Ask them what their preferences are and keep their needs in mind. What is most important to you may not be as important to a loved one.
Remember that not all aged care homes will be able to provide for a family member’s needs.
After a visit to an aged care home write down as much as you can about what you liked and disliked about the home. Sometimes it can be worthwhile paying a second visit at a different time of day.
Seek out personal recommendations where you can. Talking to people in the local community who have been through a similar experience can be most helpful.
Caring for someone doesn’t stop when a person enters an aged care home. Some people continue to be very involved in a loved one’s care on a daily basis. They may call or visit regularly, take washing home or be involved in providing personal care. In this case finding an aged care home close to where you live would help.
Think about how the decision will affect the whole family, is the location convenient? Will it be easy to visit regularly? How long will it take to get to the facility in an emergency?
Does the environment feel homely and safe?
Is the aged care home clean and in good repair?
Can you see many staff?
Is there a choice of common areas such as a lounge, library, dining and entertainment areas?
Do they provide comfortable seating, easy access with room for wheelchairs and walking frames?
Is there a well maintained outdoor area with ample shade and room to walk around?
Is there adequate lighting?
Is the facility secure? What systems are in place to ensure security?
Is the environment noisy and busy?
How much control does a person have over room choice? Do they have a choice of single or shared rooms? Are there rooms available for married couples?
What personal items and soft furnishings are provided? What items can a person bring?
Is there a private phone line, television and access to the internet?
Are there private or shared bathrooms?
Can a person change to another room?
Who determines room allocation? Does a resident or family member have any choice?
Do staff appear happy, friendly and courteous towards the residents?
Were staff happy to help you and show you around?
What is the staff ratio to residents?
What level of training have the care staff? Are they registered nurses, enrolled nurses or personal care assistants?
How many staff are on duty over night?
What proportion of staff are casual?
Do staff rotate care? Are the same staff assigned a resident for a length of time?
What ongoing training do you provide staff in aged care?
Do staff appear clean and address each other professionally?
What is the daily routine in general?
What are the arrangements for meal times? Can a resident have a special diet and choose what they would like to eat?
Does the dining room appear pleasant and social?
Can a person choose shower and bed time?
What kind of leisure activities are on offer? Do you have a qualified diversional therapist on staff?
Are activities tailored to individual preferences?
How often are outdoor activities organised and do you have your own transport?
What are the daily care fees? How are they structured and what extras do I have to pay for?
Can I choose my own doctor? How often do they visit?
How much involvement do family and residents have in a care plan?
How often do you have family conferences?
Do you have staff trained in palliative care?
Can family stay over night? What level of medical care do you provide?
What are the facilities procedures for complaints?
Is there are a physiotherapist on staff? What exercise programs are in place?
What are the medication procedures? Who administers medications? Can a person self-medicate? How often are medications reviewed?
How much control do I have over pharmacy and billing arrangements?
Do hairdressing, physiotherapy and podiatry cost more?
What is your restraint policy?
What is your policy on elder abuse?
Do the residents appear comfortable, well groomed and clean?
Do they appear to have many dressings?
Are residents moving freely about the home?
Do any residents appear to be restrained? With table tops? Lap restraints?
Is there a resident’s committee?
How does the facility ensure a resident’s dignity and privacy are maintained?
If a resident is unhappy about their care how can they complain?
Is there a dementia specific unit?
Are staff trained in dementia?
How does the facility protect people who wander?
How are the needs of residents with different cultures and religious beliefs met?
Can you “age in place” or move from low to high care?
What arrangements can be made for married couples?