10 Ways To Support A Loved One Who’s Moving Into A Care Home
February 23rd, 2022
Moving into a care home is a much bigger change to navigate than a standard house move, which can already be a very stressful situation in itself. When you move into a care home, there’s not just a change of environment to process, but also a complete change in lifestyle, which can feel a little overwhelming.
However, with the support of loved ones and care home staff, the transition to living in a care home can be made smoother. Figures from the Office for National Statistics gathered by carehome.co.uk show that some 490,326 people were living in care homes in the UK as of 2020, so you’re not alone – there are thousands of families dealing with this transition all of the time.
If you have a loved one who’s getting ready to make the move to residential care, take a look at our moving into a care home checklist, and our 10 proactive steps you can take to help your loved one to settle into care home living.
How To Support A Loved One Who’s Moving To A Care Home
It can be hard to know how to help when a parent or loved one is moving into a care home; you don’t want to seem like you’re interfering, but at the same time, you need to know that they’re settling in well for your own peace of mind.
1. Arrange A Prior Visit Or Respite Stay
Respite stays are available at all New Care homes, subject to availability. A respite care stay provides an opportunity for your loved one to enjoy a short stay in residential care, giving them the chance to become familiar with care home staff and facilities to see whether it feels right before moving in full time.
Caregivers can also benefit from respite care stays – it’ll show you what you could be doing with the extra spare time you’ll have when your loved one has made the move to a care home. It’s normal to feel a little selfish about this, but that will soon subside when you see your loved one settled.
You can also arrange a visit to a care home to help you to make your decision. This will give you the opportunity to meet staff, view the facilities, and ask any questions. If you’re offered a virtual tour, make sure you still have the chance to ask all the questions you need to.
2. Make Them Feel Like It’s Their Decision
It’s important to make the person moving into a care home feel as though it’s their decision so they don’t feel pushed into a move. If you feel as though it’s time to broach the subject, do this as part of a discussion when everyone is calm and in a good mood, and make sure there’s plenty of opportunity for everyone to make their points and ask any questions.
If your loved one becomes upset or doesn’t want to discuss the topic, leave the conversation alone until another day; if you don’t push it too much, they may bring the subject up again by themselves eventually.
When you do discuss the topic of moving into a care home, encourage questions and talk up the exciting points, such as:
- Having more space of their own
- Access to more support
- An opportunity to make new friends
- A new social life and new activities to get involved with
Get your loved one to help with drawing up a shortlist of care homes they’d like to visit. Perhaps get them to choose three, and you could choose two, just to make it feel as though they’re making most of the decisions.
3. Set Up A Contact Schedule
To ease any worries your loved one might have about staying in contact with family, friends, and neighbours, set up a contact schedule for calls and visits. Draw up a timetable so there’s at least one visit, phone call, or video call from a loved one every day, so you can be sure your loved one isn’t getting lonely, and they always know when the next contact is coming.
Don’t worry about your loved one getting to grips with new technology for video calls – care home staff will always be on hand to help.
4. Communicate Preferences To Care Home Staff
Take the time to talk to care home staff about your loved one’s preferred choices for everything from food to music, and even bathing preferences, as little things like this can make a big difference to how settled they feel in their new surroundings:
- Food – at New Care homes, our care home food menus offer a choice of options every day, including for different dietary needs
- Music – make sure carers know if your loved one has a preferred radio station or genre of music, as this could help if they’re ever feeling lonely, as familiar voices and songs can be incredibly comforting
- TV – if there’s a programme they never miss, let care home staff know. If their new timetable is going to affect this, see if you can record it for them, or get them set up with catch-up and streaming services
- Bathing – make sure care home staff know whether your loved one prefers a bath or a shower, and whether they’d rather have this at morning or night
5. Bring Personal Belongings
Personal belongings can help a care home feel more like home. Some care homes are fully furnished, meaning you may not be able to bring your own furniture, so find this out before you move to prevent any upset.
However, you will be able to bring soft furnishings, ornaments, and family photos to make a new bedroom feel more like home. See if you can have these items in the room prior to your loved one moving in to help the space to feel more like home from the very start.
6. Find Out If They Can Keep Their Hairdresser
It may not sound like the most pressing point to worry about, but the little things can make all the difference; a hairdresser may be one of the things that helps your loved one to feel their best, and it’s an important part of self-care. Find out whether your loved one can arrange for their hairdresser to come to the home to do their hair.
Alternatively, New Care homes have onsite hair and nail salons, so go along with your loved one to introduce them to the staff, and encourage them to treat themselves to a regular pamper to make the most of the facilities on offer and enhance their care home living experience.
7. Involve Them In Family Decisions And Occasions
After moving into a care home, it’s natural that your loved one might feel as though they’re missing out on some everyday family events and conversations, so it’s important to make the effort to make sure they still feel like a central part of the family.
Make sure they hear news of engagements or see photos of baby scans as soon as possible, for example. And if there’s a decision that you need help with, such as whether to take a new job, or even a choice between paint colours for a room, or a colour scheme for a family wedding, make sure they get a chance to have their say to keep them feeling fully involved.
8. Find Out How You Can Get Involved
Take some time to find out how you can get involved in care home activities to help your loved one to settle in. Some care homes will offer activities such as bridge evenings that friends and family can join in with, and there may be residents and relatives meetings you can attend to get more involved in the wider care home community.
At New Care homes, you can also book a table in one of our care home restaurants, subject to availability, to enjoy Sunday lunch or a meal for a special occasion with a loved one – this can be a lovely way to enjoy a meal ‘out’ together, and it may even make them feel like they’re hosting you, giving them a sense of pride.
9. Help Them To Settle In
The first day after moving into a care home will always be a little strange, so after helping your loved one to unpack, spend some time together doing a full tour of the home. This will stop them from feeling as though there are parts of their home that they don’t know, helping them to settle in.
Along the way, stop and introduce yourselves to care home staff and other residents you meet to help stop them from feeling like they’re living with strangers.
Encourage your loved one to join in with activities over the coming week, and see if you can do them alongside them for the first time if they’re nervous to help them to settle in.
10. Build A Relationship With Care Home Staff
Make the effort to get to know the care home manager and other staff. If your loved one is likely to be in residential care long term, it can be reassuring to know that you have a good relationship with staff so you can ask any questions, find out how they’re settling in, and raise any concerns.
If you already have a good relationship with care home staff, you’re more likely to have confidence in them resolving any issues that come up.
Your Moving Into A Care Home Checklist
Before making the move to a care home, make sure you’ve thought about the following:
- Know what to pack – find out what’s already provided, then make sure you pack all of the clothes, toiletries, personal belongings, gadgets, and any furniture you want to have with you
- Make a plan for your remaining belongings – think about what to sell, give away to family members, or keep in storage for now. Make sure everyone knows the plan for all items before the move is complete to prevent any uncertainty or unnecessary worry
- Change of address admin – make sure you’ve updated your address with the bank and for anywhere else you need to, and send a change of address card to friends and family
- Change your GP and dentist – you may not need to do this, but your care home may have a preferred doctor and dentist for residents, so it’s important to find out
- Cancel subscriptions – cancel any newspaper or magazine subscriptions, or find out if these can be transferred to the care home
The First Few Weeks In A Care Home And Beyond
It’s normal for the first few weeks after moving into a care home to feel a little strange; you may find yourself feeling guilty, and your loved one might experience a few teething problems, but they will soon settle in.
Our care home staff have lots of experience in helping new residents to settle in, and sometimes all your loved one needs is to know they have your support and a call or visit to look forward to soon.
There’s so much to get involved with at New Care homes, including new friends to make and new activities to try, that your loved one will soon feel settled in.