Do you have questions regarding the care needs of a loved one? How to begin choosing a care home? Or how to safeguard your own future? Read on to see Sharon Lamerton of Care or Not answer some of your questions in our first Q&A instalment.
What do you need to know if your relative is advised to move into a care home?
“One of the things you would want to know, is whether the home would be able to meet your relatives needs. Every person’s needs are different and there are different care homes available to meet those needs. There are care homes for people with dementia, care homes for people with physical disabilities and care homes for people with behavioural problems. Once you have decided on the type of care home that is needed, you then need to look at what the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has on their website about the care home and whether they have good or bad reports. That is the initial groundwork. You then need to visit the care home which can be done in two ways and ideally you should do both. You can ring and make an appointment to visit the care home and then your next visit should be unannounced, you can just turn up and have a look around the care home. Talk to staff, the relatives and where possible people living in the care home to get an idea of what the care home is like. Also be aware that homes can smell. It is worth finding out the cause of the smell – urine is an easily recognised smell!”
How do you compare care homes and find the best one for your relative?
“If you’ve done your homework from the previous question, you would have a good CQC report, you would have talked to staff, you would have assessed whether your relatives’ needs could be met in that home. You should be able to get some of that assistance from adult social care; however, some social workers just do not have the time to be able to provide that information. There is enough information out there now to be able to gather it by visiting several care homes and then comparing which one is best for your relative”.
What can you do if you do not agree with decisions being made for/about your relative’s care?
“As a lawyer once said, ‘that will depend’ and it is true, it does depend. If your relative made a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) for health and welfare and you are the attorney, then you will be the decision maker for your relative. If, however there is no legal power in place, it will be social services or the NHS who will be the decision maker for your relative. Therefore, if you have not put a power of attorney in place (most importantly you should, and you should have a health and welfare LPA as well as a property and financial affairs LPA) your family will not be the decision maker for you. If there is not an LPA in place, the local authority or the NHS Trust will hold what is known as a ‘Best Interest Meeting’, and without an LPA whilst your views will be listened to, they could be overrode by the local authority or NHS. In making the decision, if you have the LPA, you will be the decision maker at a Best Interest Meeting, but you do have to make a decision in the best interest of your relative”.
What can you do to prepare and safeguard your future health matters?
“Having an LPA in place for health and welfare is certainly a safeguard that you should have. You can make something called ‘advance decisions’ so that your relatives and NHS or Social Services know what you would like to happen, should you lose capacity. If you do not have a health and welfare power of attorney, your family will not be the ones making decisions, it will be social services or the NHS. This can include whether or not you go into a care home, whether or not you stay living in your own home, what care you receive, who deals with your finances and indeed what happens to you after you die. So, if you want to make sure that you’ve safeguarded yourself as much as possible, make sure that you have made a Will and you have put a power of attorney for health and welfare and property and financial affairs in place”.