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How To Get An Elderly Person Into A Care Home Without Causing Upset

March 17th, 2022

Accepting that moving into a care home may be the right decision for a loved one can be a tough realisation to come to. Often, loved ones recognise that a parent or older relative can no longer live independently safely or are showing signs of decline before they realise it themselves. As a result, it can be tricky to approach the subject while avoiding hurt and upset.

At New Care, we’re used to helping families transition to care home living, but we understand it can be difficult to bring up the topic of residential care without causing some worry and upset. With this in mind, let’s take a look at how to handle those initial conversations around moving into a care home, how to adjust to care home living as a family, and how to help your loved one settle into their new home in their first few weeks and beyond.

How To Recognise When A Care Home Is The Right Decision

old person's hand on walking stick

It can be difficult to acknowledge that residential care is the best option for a loved one, as it will mean a significant change to your family life. But sometimes, it’s the only option, and you can feel reassured by the fact they will be in the best possible hands with experienced care home staff who are specially trained to handle their needs. 

You may need to consider residential care if:

  • Your loved one has had a fall – perhaps they can no longer navigate the stairs in their home or they’ve become unsteady on their feet
  • They can no longer live independently – maybe they can no longer manage cooking a meal by themselves or are struggling with everyday tasks such as dressing themselves
  • There may have been an incident, such as leaving the hob on when they left the house, or perhaps they forgot to pay a bill
  • You need a respite period – respite care can benefit both the carer and the person being cared for, and it can be a good way to assess whether full-time residential care is the right option
  • They may require nursing care after an illness or operation
  • They’ve received a dementia diagnosis

If you’re wondering ‘when should someone with dementia go into a care home?’, the answer tends to be if they’re no longer able to live independently, or there are signs the condition is starting to progress. Speak to your GP if you have concerns, and they may be able to help you arrange an assessment to see if a care home is the right choice for your loved one.

How To Approach The Subject Of Moving Into A Care Home

older woman chatting to daughter over coffee

The topic of moving into a care home can be a sensitive subject to approach. Although you may know it’s the right decision, it may take some time for your loved one to accept this. You don’t want to run the risk of making them feel like you no longer want to live with them, or that they’re becoming a burden when the subject of care home costs comes up.

Don’t bring the subject up as part of an argument or in a tense moment – it’s best to raise it when everyone is calm and comfortable, and you have plenty of time to talk, so don’t start the conversation just before you need to do something else.

Bring a laptop along so you can begin to look at potential care homes together, and have a notepad to hand so you can note down any questions that come up to ask during initial care home visits. 

If your loved one becomes upset or doesn’t want to engage with the conversation, stay calm, reassure them, and leave the subject for now. You can come back to the topic at another time, perhaps in a different environment, such as when you’re out for a walk. They may just need a bit of time to get used to the idea if it’s come out of nowhere for them. Wait for them to bring it back up themselves, but if time is passing and you’re becoming increasingly concerned, you may need to broach the subject again.

How To Navigate Care Home Visits

care home

Once you’ve created a shortlist of potential care homes together, contact each one to arrange a visit. Some may offer virtual tours, but you should still be able to ask any questions you need to. If the virtual footage is poor, seems rushed, or there’s no opportunity for questions, take this as a red flag and begin your search elsewhere.

Go with a list of prepared questions and take the time to ask them all, no matter how trivial you think they are. Make sure your loved one looks at everything they need to, and make time to speak to care home staff and other residents. See if you can spend some time in a communal area with other residents to get a feel for what it’s like to live there – or perhaps even arrange a respite stay, if one is available. 

You’ll both know if a care home is the right one for your family; if you have any doubts or concerns at all, listen to your gut and don’t be afraid to start your search again elsewhere.

How To Help A Loved One Settle Into A Care Home

The move itself can be an emotional time; packing up belongings can bring up a lot of feelings, but it can be a lovely experience to go through together, looking through old photographs and going over other memories. 

packing to move house

You don’t want to cause any extra upset by making your loved one think you’re going to get rid of any belongings they’re leaving behind, so reassure them they can leave items with you, or in a storage facility that you can easily access. Packing can be stressful, so take care to not let your stress show when you’re with your loved one to prevent them from feeling like they’re the cause of these emotions.

While going through belongings, choose together what personal items they can take to decorate their care home bedroom with to make it feel more like home. 

When you arrive at the care home, help them to settle in by:

  • Unpack together and take the time to find the right place for all of their personal belongings
  • Take a tour of the home together and say hello to staff and introduce yourselves to other residents along the way
  • Check out all of the facilities from communal areas to the dining room and even the hair salon, so they’re familiar with where everything is and don’t feel like a stranger in their own home

Transitioning To A New Care Home

When your loved one first moves into a care home, it’s natural that they may feel a little unsettled at first and there may be some upset and lots of other emotions as they adjust to a new home and lifestyle. 

New Care staff have lots of experience supporting families as they transition to care home life, and they’ll be on hand to help you navigate the process. With regular visits, phone calls, and video chats with loved ones, and so many care home activities on offer, they’ll soon settle in. And whether it’s bridge evenings or activities as part of our Oomph! wellbeing programme to support physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing, there’s so much for residents to get involved with.

Find out more about our programme of care home activities, and please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions about New Care homes.