Frequently asked questions

Based on our experience, we have summarised some of the more frequently asked questions for your information. The top section sets out some of the more common general enquiries. The content in the lower section has been taken from a leaflet that was produced based on the experience of our teams, which sets out the 10 most common care home myths. 

Download 10 myths PDF

Click on the questions below to expand the answers.  If you require any further information the teams in our homes will be only too pleased to help

Q. I am looking after a family member who is becoming isolated at home all day. Its getting harder to juggle their needs with my other family responsibilities - what should I do?

A. Talk with professionals such as your GP and social services. They may already know your family member and in any event are best placed to assess the need for residential or nursing care. They can also talk through any other options that may be available. If a care home is ultimately the way forward, they will be able to help with finding the most appropriate one. Our Home Managers and Clinical Leads are uniquely placed to discuss how the Colten Care family can support you.

Q. Surely all homes basically the same, its just the price that’s different?

A. Actually there is a great variety. Homes can be run by private providers, local authorities or voluntary organisations. Daily help with personal care, such as washing and dressing, is available in a residential home, where medication, for example, will be given by a registered person not a qualified nurse. A nursing home will, as the title suggests, provide tailored nursing care for each resident paying the nursing fee. All our homes are registered residential and nursing homes, residential residents receive the daily support of our health care assistants supervised by the qualified nurse on duty. If nursing care were to be needed in the future we can give reassurance a move to another home would not be necessary There are also homes offering extra care and support such as those focused entirely on residents who live with dementia.

Q. How can I be sure which kind of home is best for now and the longer term?

A. If the person you have been caring for is unable to leave their bed, or has a condition or illness that requires regular medical attention, a nursing home is likely to be the most appropriate kind of care setting. Under their regulatory responsibilities, care homes must explain very clearly the level of care they are able to provide. They are only allowed to accept residents who they can safely look after. If you are looking for nursing as opposed to residential care you need to be satisfied that your chosen home has qualified nursing staff on duty 24/7 and has dedicated resources for residents such as hoists and specialist beds.

Q. As a family are worried about the cost, could we be asked to pay?

A. There are a number of factors involved in deciding who should pay for care. Nursing care residents can be assessed for and granted NHS-funded care. Even if the person you are caring for is not eligible for financial help with care home fees, it is generally still worth involving social services. Their assessment and the information they provide are likely to be very helpful in making decisions about care. Be aware that different care homes will charge different fees and if the level set by the one you choose is above what the state will cover then the balance will have to be found elsewhere. If you are funding part or all of the care home costs, then it is important to be sure the resident can afford the fees. The best advice is to talk with social services and/or the prospective home about the funding options.

Q. Should I choose a home for my family member that is close to where I live so that I can visit them regularly rather than near their current home?

A. Ideally, yes. Location is of course very important depending on your individual circumstances and needs. As your GP and social services will have extensive community care links they should have a good insight into the variety of providers in the local area. If you, other members of the family and friends consider location to be a pivotal issue, make that clear at the outset.

Q. Where can I find more information to help me choose a home?

A. You can speak with the care sector regulator, the Care Quality Commission, which maintain lists of care homes and publishes independent reviews online. Age UK also has a useful website. For specific questions relating to someone who is living with dementia, try the Alzheimer’s Society. Another source is simply word of mouth. The personal recommendations of people you know and trust are likely to lead you to a good home too.

Q. I now have a list of homes I am looking at. What should I ask them?

A. You will want to be reassured that your chosen home is focused on the individual needs of residents, including dignity and privacy, and organised in such a way that it can achieve a high standard of care. Ask about the team members involved in care. Seek a meeting with the home manager and ask how long team members have worked at the home, what training they have had, and whether you can speak with the families and friends of other residents to gauge their opinions on how well the home delivers.

Q. I definitely want to remain in close contact with the person I have been looking after. Will this be allowed?

A. Yes of course.Check if there are any rules on visiting times or if you would be free to pop in anytime, this will give you an indication of how welcoming the home is to friends and relatives. Ask about the practical involvement family and friends can have in the home. Are they actively encouraged to get involved in decisions and what does the home say about communicating with staff? Ask the manager to talk through the activities programme at the home and the extent to which residents are enabled to stay in contact with the local community.

Q. What about the individual needs and character of the person I have been caring for? Can I raise that early on in my enquiries?

A. Yes. A good home should be very happy to talk through everything from how it caters for personal dietary needs right through to respecting residents’ religious beliefs and practices.

Q. Is it important to have Power of Attorney sorted out before moving into a care home?

A. Power of Attorney is designed to ensure that someone you trust can step in and make decisions when you are no longer able to. While a person retains mental capacity, it can be a prudent move to appoint an attorney rather than wait until it is too late. If all this is sorted out in advance, it can relieve much stress further down the line. Colten Care has published a Guide to Power of Attorney which we encourage you to read.

Q. How will I know what is included in the weekly fee and if there are ‘extras’ which are chargable?

A. During your visit and conversations with the home ask for details, if you are comparing several homes you want to be clear what the charges are for each one, ask to see the contract which details the terms and conditions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – if the answers are not clear, raise the matter again before making any final decisions.

Top 10 care home myths as summarised by our experienced Clinical Lead team

1. Everyone is put in a care home eventually

A. No-one should ever feel they are being ‘put’ in a home. It should be a question of choice for them and their family based on a sensitive, detailed pre-admission assessment. We see moving into a care home as a positive transition to a new chapter of life. The resident should actually enjoy more choice and autonomy than they would have if struggling at home alone or depending on an ever-changing team of domiciliary carers visiting them.

2. I will have to get rid of all my furniture, pictures and books

A. A new resident should be encouraged to make their room their own and personalise it with cherished items from home as much as possible. They are free to put pictures on the wall and to bring their own furniture and books should they wish.

3. I will not be able to have visitors whenever I choose

You can have visitors whenever you wish. All good care homes encourage open visiting by friends and family. The front door may be locked in the evening, for security reasons, but visitors are welcome to ring the doorbell – just as they would in your own home. Depending on the time of day, visitors can join residents to enjoy a pre-lunch sherry, afternoon tea, or other snacks and meals. Birthday and anniversary parties are also popular occasions for residents and visitors to get together.

4. I will lose my independence

A. A care home that truly cherishes you will strive to maintain and enhance your independence at all times. It is all about sensitive, thoughtful interaction. Each resident has a detailed care plan that tells staff what the individual can do for themselves and what they need assistance with. Above that, the values of honesty, kindness, reassurance, individuality and choice should be evident 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

5. Care homes often have a bad smell

A professional care home, with dedicated cleaning, laundry and care staff, will take a zero tolerance approach to bad smells. The key is prevention and treatment. Staff will assess a resident’s needs and make appropriate arrangements to manage their continence effectively. For example, call bells will be answered swiftly and residents helped to the toilet straight away. At the same time, if any spillages or leaks do occur due to incontinence, they will be immediately treated with specialist cleaning equipment. Affected materials will also be swiftly replaced.

6. Everyone will have dementia

A. Different care homes cater for different needs. Basic help with personal care, such as washing and dressing, is available in a residential home. A nursing home will, as the title suggests, provide tailored nursing care for each resident. There are also homes offering extra care and support, such as those focused entirely on residents who live with dementia. While some people in any care home may have some degree of memory loss or dementia, that does not apply to everyone in all homes.

7. Everyone will be sat in the lounge asleep with the TV on

A. A well-run care home will offer a stimulating and imaginative, optional programme of activities and ensure its main lounge is a social, active and interesting place. If a resident or a group of residents want to watch TV or DVDs, they can do so in their comfort of their own rooms or in a dedicated TV or cinema room.

8. I will have to go to bed and get up when I am told to

A. We all have our own rhythms and routines and, while there has to be some structure to the day and night, residents should be free to choose when they want to get up and when they go to bed. Whether people are night owls or early birds, the individuality and preferences of the residents should be assured.

9. I will have no choice of food

A. Food is essential to our wellbeing and quality of life. Residents should be involved in decisions about their diet and be given the time to choose their individual options in advance from a meals menu. Snacks should be readily available throughout the day and night. There should also be off-menu flexibility for special dietary needs or just simply preference. Food should be freshly prepared, using quality ingredients by a qualified chef-led team.

10. I will not be able to go out to the shops, for a walk or for a pub lunch when I wish

A. While safety is paramount, a well-run and attentive care home will always encourage independence and, with the appropriate risk assessments in place, anything is possible. We have residents who walk out to the shops, or take a mobility scooter. Occasionally, someone may even have their own car. Residents often go out for lunch and dinner with their friends and relatives. For optional group outings, homes will provide minibus transport.

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