Moving anywhere can be an upheaval, but a move to a care home can bring added concern for the prospective resident and their families. 

While the support and reassurance that the resident and their families need shouldn’t be underestimated, here are some practical tips to help make the transition smoother and help the settling in process.

Arrange a short stay beforehand

One way to ease the settling in process of a full-time move to a care home is to arrange a temporary stay beforehand. Not all care homes can offer this, but if they can, it’s often an effective way to give the person a chance to get to know their new surroundings in a non-pressured way. 

You can also visit for a few hours – this gives an opportunity to say a first hello to staff and some of the other residents and start to learn the layout of the care home.

What to take into a care home

Check with the care home what they recommend residents do and don’t bring, bearing in mind that there may be limited space. The care home may let residents bring smaller pieces of furniture with them which can provide familiarity and comfort. Furniture will need to be fire retardant and electrical items may need to be safety-tested (ask before bringing them).

Displaying favourite pictures and family photos helps the room feel homely, as can bringing favourite bedcovers or quilts. Sometimes you can redecorate the room with a colour scheme of your choice. 

Most care homes are only too happy to help residents personalise their space to make it feel familiar and comfortable.

Chat to staff and explain preferences

We all have likes, dislikes and routines, and sharing these with staff means that the resident can feel at home, and their preferences can be accommodated if possible. Here’s some ideas for things your loved one and you might want to let staff know about:

  • what they want to be called (are first names ok or would they prefer Mrs/Miss/Ms/Mr X?)
  • if they have any specific needs that might relate to disability, sex, gender, identity, race, religion, belief, or sexuality
  • what they can do for themselves
  • what they need help with
  • what drinks they like
  • what time they like to wake / get up
  • how they like their hair done and any other grooming information
  • if they have any hobbies they may like to continue.

Pet friendly care homes

Some care homes will accept pets, which can have multiple advantages – pets provide a focus of attention, someone to care for and love, and can alleviate loneliness and stress. Contact the care home beforehand to check whether they accept pets and whether any restrictions apply (for example, there may be a size limit on dogs).

If the care home doesn’t accept pets, get in touch with the Cinnamon Trust (https://cinnamon.org.uk/cinnamon-trust), a national charity who provide long term care for pets whose owners have moved to residential accommodation which will not accept pets. The resident can have peace of mind in the knowledge that their beloved companion will have a safe and happy future and they will be kept in touch with visits from their pet, if possible, or regular photos and letters.

Help them stay in touch with friends and family

Alongside visits to the care home, you may be able to arrange to take the person out for a meal or a day trip, for a change of scenery and to spend some quality time together. The care home may also appreciate residents’ loved ones getting involved with activities within the care home.

The person could take a mobile phone or tablet with them when they move to the care home to make phone and video calls to family and friends with.

Finally, check if the care home shares details of what residents have been up to in a newsletter or online group, to keep up with what’s going on and have conversation starters if you need them.

Are you looking for care?

If you haven’t yet found a care home, just enter your postcode on www.caresourcer.com for a searchable directory of local care providers. Every care provider on Care Sourcer is registered with their local regulatory body.

You’ll see their inspection rating, along with price, location, photos and information about the agency that can help you with your decision.

If you need care urgently, our team of care experts are also available by telephone on freephone 0800 048 8618 to guide you through the process – free of charge.

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