An older woman sits with a female carer and works on an art project.

Residential care homes

Residential care homes are designed to give high quality nursing and specialised care in an environment that promotes a meaningful life. But a move into a care home is a big decision that takes time. If you leave it until the last minute, you may limit your options or make a hasty decision that may not be right for you in the long term.

Depending on your needs, you may decide that residential care is your best option when homecare is not available or appropriate.

Which care home?

Before selecting a home, you should think about the level of care you need, the type of care you’d like and what care home is most suitable for you.

There are three main types of care homes:

General care. These homes can offer you support for either the short or long term. In a general care home, you will have your own room—usually with en suite facilities—and there will be activities for you to enjoy. You will also get meals (including help with eating, should you need it) and daily care (including help with personal tasks like washing). While you’ll get assistance with managing medications, there is no nursing care available if you have a disability. However, they should be able to assist with 24 hour care if you have an emergency.

Nursing care. These homes are the same as care homes, but they have registered nurses and trained professionals who can help with your more complex health needs. So on top of your daily care, you’ll be able to receive medical care from qualified staff who are in the home 24 hours a day. You may want to consider a nursing care home (formerly known as a nursing home) if you have an illness or disability that requires regular medical support.

Care with specialist support. If you have dementia, mental health issues or physical disabilities, this type of home will be able to provide a specially adapted environment along with activities designed to improve your quality of life. In the past, EMI (or elderly mentally impaired or infirm) was sometimes used to describe these homes, but this term is being phased out. There is a great deal of helpful information about choosing a care home that is suitable if you have dementia. The Alzheimer’s Society website offers information on Finding a care home.

Some homes offer both residential and nursing care, and this makes them ideal for couples who have different requirements or anticipate various levels of need in the future. In other words, there might be a certain number of places for residents requiring nothing more than personal care along with a certain number for those requiring specialist support.

So if you are perfectly fit (aside from the normal wear and tear that comes with life) but your spouse needs nursing care, you can stay together by moving into a single facility. Note that these homes were formerly referred to as dual registered homes, but again, that term is in the process of being phased out.

Care homes with a Jewish lifestyle

Being Jewish means something different to everyone. You may not think of yourself as religious, but you still have connections with people in the Jewish community that has shaped you.

Would you want to join in with Jewish children to celebrate Chanukah by lighting candles? Or do you like the idea of inviting your family over for Friday night dinner? If these options are important, a Jewish care home might be right for you.

Residential homes with a Jewish lifestyle may offer some, or all of the following:

  • Shabbat observance;
  • Kosher food;
  • Regular synagogue services;
  • Traditional Friday night meals;
  • Celebration of festivals; and
  • Entertainment with a Jewish flavour.

To find out more about Jewish care homes in your area, check out our Directory of residential care homes.

Financing a move

As the Age UK page explains, Paying for permanent residential care could have a big impact on your decision, so make sure to take the time to explore all of your financing options. When it comes to care home costs, you have three basic choices:

Self-funding. If you want guidance on self-funding, visit the website for the Society of Later Life Advisers (SOLLA). This organisation can help put you in touch with an accredited financial adviser who has the right kind of knowledge to help you. Also, Which? Elderly Care has a Checklist for self-funding a care home. Make sure you check out the general information on Self-funding a care home, also on the Which? Elderly Care site.

NHS funding. Funding arrangements for ongoing care can have an impact on you, especially if you are at a very vulnerable stage of your life. There is national guidance on this subject which sets out a single, national framework for determining eligibility for NHS continuing healthcare and for NHS-funded nursing care. You can find out more by downloading the free public information leaflet from GOV.UK, NHS Continuing Healthcare and NHS-funded Nursing Care. This guide explains the process used to determine whether or not you are eligible for care funded entirely by the NHS. To find out more general information about Getting NHS funding for a care home, visit the Which? Elderly Care site.

Local authority funding. The Care Act gives you the right to a free needs assessment from your council, even if your local authority gives you the impression your finances are too high or your needs are too low to qualify for help. Even if financial assistance is not required, a needs assessment is important, as it gives an outline of the type of care and support needed. Find out more about How a local authority care needs assessment works on the Money Advice Service website or download the Finding care home accommodation factsheet from Age UK. You can also find out more by checking out the guide, Getting local authority funding for a care home: step by step, from Which? Elderly Care.

Preparing for your visits

Once you have decided on the type of care home you prefer and the type of funding you can afford, you should sit down and create a list of homes you’d like to visit. You may also want to read about the experiences of other care home residents. The results of the most recent survey from Your Care Rating website may help inform your decision.

Before scheduling your visits, double check to find out if the homes meet national care standards. You can look homes up on the following websites:

Visiting prospective care homes will play a vital part in your selection process. It’s a good idea to have a list of questions at hand so you can find out as much as possible during the visit.

There are several great checklists that can help you when evaluating your care home options. Take a look at these links and jot down the questions you think are important. You can bring those questions along with you when you visit potential homes:

Making the move

Now that you’ve reviewed the types of care homes, arranged your financing, visited your favourite homes and made your selection, how can you prepare for moving day?

Since you will probably be moving into a smaller space, try to concentrate on bringing along only the things that matter most to you. If you haven’t used something or worn an item of clothing in the past year, it’s probably time to pass it along to someone else who really can use it. Instead of schlepping loads of books you’ve already read, pick out small things and special items—like mementoes or other tchotchkes—that make you feel at home. Send your boxes of photographs off to be digitally scanned and archived for your family. Create scrapbooks from your favourite snapshots and then pick out a few really good images to be enlarged, labelled and framed so you can put them on display in your new home.

When packing, mark your boxes carefully. It will make life so much easier when you go to set up your new home.

One of the biggest benefits of moving into a residential care home is putting daily chores behind you and your family members. So to make the transition easier, let the management team and caregivers in your new home know what your needs are ahead of time; don’t wait until you move in to tell them about the medications you take, the day you like to get a haircut (or go to the hairdresser), or what foods you like or dislike.

Another way to make things easier on moving day is to surround yourself with family and friends. At the very least, they can help make you feel more comfortable and follow up with questions for management and staff. Care UK offers Preparing for a move to a care home, which is a checklist you can download. And Which? Elderly Care offers guidance on Organising a move into a smaller property.

Useful links

The decision to move into a care home isn’t one you have to make alone. For some people, the decision becomes a family affair, especially if someone within your family can no longer provide the care you require. While the Jewish Care Interact Directory of residential care homes has an extensive list of resources, the following links can give you more information about choosing residential care.

General care home information:

Specialist residential care:

Location based care home search engines:

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