Helping your loved one ease into their new care home environment



If you’re facing the prospect of making the decision to move your beloved, elderly relative from their family home into a care or nursing home, we sincerely empathise because we would imagine you’re facing one of the toughest choices you’ll ever have to make.  However, in order to try and help you to help them make that transition from their own familiar surroundings, friendly faces and regular routines into a totally alien, (and possibly frightening), unsettling  situation, just that bit easier, we’ve put together what we hope are some helpful tips.

Chat with staff and care workers: Take your relative for a cup of tea to chat with the staff and find out about the care home’s routine. Make sure staff know your relative’s little quirks, likes and dislikes. For example, if they like to eat lunch in their room rather than in a dining room, if they don’t like certain foods, if they enjoy reading before they go to sleep, etc. You could, if you had the time, offer to volunteer a few hours a week and get involved in your relative’s new home’s social activities.

Have a checklist: Make a list of questions, and important dos and don’ts. You want this transition to be a positive and happy experience for both of you, but mainly for your relative and if they aren’t one hundred per cent satisfied and content with their standard of care, follow procedure and make a complaint. If the situation that’s worrying you is not resolved immediately, (and it may be hygiene, their personal care procedure and quality, or indeed the staffs’ behaviour, etc.) then please make alternative arrangements for your relative. This may mean their immediate removal from the situation.

Take a tour: Walk your relative around the garden, the public areas, the dining room and the manager’s office, etc., and make sure they have their bearings and don’t feel scared they may get lost in this new building that has now become their home.

Visit when you say you will: Don’t let them down and stick to your visiting promises. In addition, take your relative out for a few hours or even take them home for an overnight stay so that they’ll get a change of scene and can be reassured that everything at home remains the same.

Stay connected: Get your relative a mobile ‘phone and make sure they always have plenty of credit in the event they need to contact you in an emergency, or simply because they want to hear your reassuring voice.

Above all: Keep the lines of communication open with both your relative and care staff. If you don’t have regular conversations with both, you’ll end up in a crisis situation resulting in a confused relative and a chaotic mess.

Remember: No parent wants to burden their adult children, meaning they may hide certain issues and health concerns from them. However, if you keep talking, assure them you’re on their side and you’re working with them (not against them), they’ll be more likely to understand you (and the care staff) only have their wellbeing at heart.