With the rising UK life expectancy, a good number of you will be approaching retirement with your parents still very much alive and kicking. Obviously this is a good thing (!) but presents us with the extra challenge of care-home management which previous generations were less likely to face.

Unfortunately, most care homes are a business. This means that there are incentives for cost cutting and lower standards of care. I’m not saying all are bad, far from it, but a few bad eggs highlight the need for us to be vigilant. With that in mind, lets cover off a few red flags that might suggest your loved ones aren’t getting the care they need.

Issues with the home itself

Lets start with the home itself. If you are a prospective customer or a regular visitor, be on the lookout for a few key things:

The staff
Everyone can have a bad day at work, but if all the staff look unhappy or act dismissive more often than not then it doesn’t bode well for levels of care.

Does the staff change every time you visit? This could be a sign of high turnover and unhappiness among the care workers. Again, this rarely translates into good and empathetic care.

Are the stuff constantly rushing around with no time to think? Under-staffing can be a real problem, and stretching care workers too thin means that its hard to achieve good standards. It’s not their fault, sometimes care home owners don’t want to (or can’t) spend the extra money on extra staff.

Does you loved one make comments about the staff  or asked not to be looked after by certain people? If so, it is a must to investigate these even if the resident is suffering from cognitive issues.

The home and it’s owners
It’s also important to take in the home itself. Is it structurally sound, does it smell off or damp, is it safe and secure? Are there ramps and lifts? Is it clean? Everything you’d consider when judging a house for yourself you should consider when judging a home for your family.

Find out who the owners are and who the manager is. Do they have a good record? Have there been any public complaints or even negative press articles? A quick google will tell you straight away if the prospect is one of the worst offenders. If possible, get time with them, have a conversation and find out their reasons for being in business. The ones who really care should shine through. Ask what improvements have been made and what they are working on now to make the home even better.

Signs from your relative

Some of the most obvious signs will be coming from the residents themselves. As stated before, even if there are cognitive issues at play, ALL instances should be investigated.

Be aware of the following:

  • unexplained injuries,
  • an unusual change in personality,
  • a drop in hygiene, both of the individual and in their room and clothing,
  • complaints of care standards,
  • hunger or thirst,
  • a dislike of one or more of the staff,
  • loneliness
  • explainable anger or sadness
  • an unwillingness to talk