Millions of older adults face the reality of needing ongoing care later in life, and a care home that offers personalized services like lodging, meals, and assistance with activities of daily living can be a saving grace for the elderly and their families. Making the decision to move into a care home is never easy, but the process is made more complex with the variety of care home settings available. Adding to the stress of the decision process is the pressing concern that the care home selected may not meet the expectations of the older adult or family members.
According to the Care Quality Commission, only 1% of older adult care homes rate as outstanding based on survey respondents, while 62% rated as good and 37% require improvement. That leaves family members and the individuals needing to live in a care home in need of guidance on how to make a selection that will provide quality care that is truly beneficial. Before making the decision, consider these attributes that make up the highest quality care homes for older adults.
When selecting a care home, safety should be a top priority, and that starts with the general level of cleanliness exhibited by the facility. Older adults are often prone to infections due to declining health, and having a sterile, clean environment helps protect care home residents from unnecessary or avoidable illness. Safety also comes into play with medications, as those should be kept in a secure place within the home only accessible by trained staff or doctors. Care homes should encourage a discussion about prescribed medications needed for potential residents and how those medications should be administered early on in the selection process.
In addition to cleanliness and medication safety, care homes that are high quality provide the appropriate equipment and training to staff and doctors to ensure residents are kept safe. A representative from a UK law firm that handles negligence cases in care homes explains that injuries caused by unsafe surfaces or unnecessary obstacles are devastating to families and residents. Not only do physical injuries lessen the quality of life experienced by care home residents, but there is also an emotional toll that wreaks havoc on an individual’s mental health as well. Avoiding these unnecessary issues can be accomplished by ensuring the care home selected has safety measures in place for all residents.
Level of Effectiveness
A care home is deemed to be of high quality when it has a high level of effectiveness in caring for residents. To be effective, care home staff members should take steps to ensure residents are comfortable and well taken care of which may include gathering regular feedback from individuals and their family members. Also, effective care homes ensure staff members and doctors have the tools they need to provide high-quality care, including training on bedside manner, handling the delicate needs of residents, and communicating with doctors or specialists outside the care home to ensure proper treatment is being followed.
Quality care homes can also be highly effective when residents are included in the decisions made relating to their living environment. This may include meal preferences and timing, activities and scheduling visits from family members, and even room décor and layout. Care home staff members should also include family members in discussions surrounding preferences if the resident requests it.
Caring, Responsive Staff and Owners
Above and beyond safety and effectiveness considerations, quality care homes are filled with staff members and doctors who truly care about the well-being of residents. Taking a caring approach to residents within a care home begins with understanding the specific needs and preferences of each resident, and taking the time to be responsive to concerns or changes to care needs as they arise. Residents should be encouraged to interact with the staff, regardless of how complex their needs may be, and they should expect to be treated with dignity and respect no matter the level of care they receive. As needs change, care home staff should be able and willing to make adjustments to plans of treatment or other accommodations to ensure the resident continues to feel comfortable, safe, and secure. These attributes should extend to the owner or manager of the care home as well.
Selecting the right care home can be a daunting task, especially when the need is urgent. Reviewing a care home based on the attributes of quality listed above alleviates some of the stress associated with making a choice, creating a greater potential for experiencing the best care available later in life.