When the time comes for your parents to have to go into care, it is a heart-wrenching moment for yourself, and for your elders. No one likes to have to discuss or think about this process, but it’s better to prepare than to leave it to the last minute and then make an unwise choice. To help you make the best decision possible at this difficult time, read on for some tips to follow.
Discuss Your Parent’s Preferences in Advance
For starters, it’s important to be proactive and talk to your parents about their preferences before the time comes for them to enter an aged-care facility. They might have particular ideas about what kind of space they enter, the location, types of services provided and more.
If you chat with them about it early on (even though it’s not a fun subject to bring up), this will give you some peace of mind if they suddenly get to the point where they don’t have the cognitive or physical function to communicate their desires, and you have to make the decision all on your own.
Consider Which Features are Most Necessary
To find the best center for your parent, consider which facilities and other needs are most necessary. You will be comparing a lot of venues, and they’ll all have their pros and cons and different price points, so if you’re clear on which priorities make the top of the list, this will help you to narrow down the choices.
Think about things such as the nursing care available, what kind of visiting hours are available, the meals provided, if there is a religious or spiritual focus, the location, price, and group interactions, and whether or not your parent needs things like physical therapy, hospice care, a special-care unit that caters to dementia patients, and so on.
Review Testimonials and Referrals
Next, always take the time to review testimonials about the centers on your shortlist to get an idea of what other residents and their families think about them. While it’s worthwhile reading the testimonials listed on the websites of organizations, remember that it’s possible for these to be made up or forged. As such, rely more so on social media reviews and those on search engines and other spots where people will be more honest and open.
If possible, talk to your friends and other contacts to see which care facility they would recommend. Referrals are helpful because they give you first-hand information, and you’re able to ask questions of people who already know all the ins and outs of a center.
Visit the Center Multiple Times
Of course, never book your parent in to a place you haven’t gone to visit multiple times yourself yet either. Go a few different times, and at different times of the day and week, so that you’re not just shown the best of a place when the staff know you’re coming. Surprise visits, and trips to a facility at the busiest times of day, when caregivers might be flustered and/or frustrated, are also good for giving you an unfiltered view.
While you’re at the aged-care facility, be on the lookout for things such as how clean everything is, particularly patient rooms and kitchens and meal areas; and what kind of food is served up. Check out common areas and activity centers, and speak with residents living there who can give you their own, personal views of what the facility is like. Observe how people pass the time there, too.
Next, learn about the caregivers. Find out what kinds of qualifications they have, and if they’re certified in specialized areas such as respiratory care, dementia, end-of-life care and the like. Staff members who interact with patients day in and day out should have years of experience, and preferably have completed on campus or online undergraduate degrees (or better yet, graduate degrees) in relevant subjects. Don’t be afraid to ask the caregivers lots of questions, and also listen to how they speak about current residents – this can expose some potential red flags.
Read Contracts Carefully
Lastly, before you make your final decision about an aged-care facility, always read the contract provided by the center very carefully. Pore over the fine print to learn about any extra fees that could crop up that you haven’t been told about previously, and see if there are any clauses that make you feel uncomfortable or which need to be investigated further. Being cautious in this way will save you from making the wrong – and likely costly – decision.