Moving into a care home or nursing home
It’s not always easy for anyone of any age to move into a new place and get used to a completely different way of living.
Few people want to leave their own homes to move into residential care. Without realising it most of us cherish our freedom – the ability to eat when we want to and eat what we want to. The option of going to bed and getting up at whatever time we choose. The peace and quiet of our own home, or the choice to have friends and family round and make lots of noise!
However good the care home and its staff might be, some of this freedom disappears when moving into residential care. Staff don’t usually have time for one to one care and residents are sadly no longer able to do things for themselves so have to rely on others – such as getting up, getting dressed, personal care, having meals, often they even have to be fed.
Yet it’s not all doom and gloom and a lot of people are very happy in care homes – with company and fellow residents around them, daily activities, friendly staff and a warm comfy bedroom often with an en suite shower room.
One of the best ways to quickly adapt to your new home is to keep your familiar items around you. Bring in your favourite photos, books, music, cuddly toys and ornaments. Your new bedroom can end up looking very much like your old one, or like your old sitting room if you bring in the right things.
You may be able to bring in some pieces of furniture – even your own bed and bedding.
Most care homes allow you to take in belongings that help you feel at home.
Take the toiletries and clothes you need. It's a good idea to label your clothes so they don't get muddled up in the laundry, as well as all those other personal items. More on the best types of name labels for care homes below
Finding your way around
It’s bit like starting a new school – remember those days when senior school seemed like a gigantic maze and you thought you’d never find your way around or get to your lessons on time! That’s the same with a new care home and sometimes with impaired mobility, having to use a walker frame or wheelchair it will seem even more daunting. But the staff should be able to assist you until you feel confident to get round on your own.
Very often and if you’re lucky there will be a choice. If you sometimes prefer to eat in your own room rather than in the dining room then tell the staff and hopefully they can arrange it. If you like to have a lie in on a weekend, again – tell the staff. If they don’t know then it won’t happen but if they do then hopefully it will.
Staying in touch with the outside world and friends and family is really important. Many elderly people these days are quite au fait with mobile phones and will have their own computer too. If it’s possible to be connected to the internet that will mean chatting via Skype or other means of communication easy and hugely satisfying. You might be able to chat with family or friends on the other side of the world – or just down the road! Getting regular updates on people’s lives and seeing the grandchildren and great grandchildren as they grow up can bring immense joy and help fill those sometimes long hours. With modern technology the world’s your oyster!
It often takes time to adjust to your surroundings and settle in but that’s quite normal.
Any new home can take some getting used to so it’s important to try and be positive, but if there are any concerns then talk to your friends, family or the staff or care home manager.
It can be hard enough for anyone to make the move into a care home but for those with dementia it can be even harder and more confusing. There are many reasons why they might suddenly have to move.
Their needs might have increased as their dementia has progressed, or because of a crisis such as a hospital admission and the need to move on but unable to go back home. It might be because the family or carer is no longer able to care for the person or cope with the daily demands of their needs. Whatever the reason, the move can be really difficult, practically and emotionally, for everyone involved, not just the patients but the family and friends too.
It’s best to try and plan ahead about a possible move to long-term care. Usually the reason for considering a move is if 24-hour supervision becomes necessary, or to ensure an improved quality of life and social contact for someone who may have become isolated. Residential care is sometimes the only option, even though the person themselves might not agree.
This can also be a very difficult time for carers and family too. Often if a carer is a husband or wife or son or daughter, they will feel very guilty about having their loved one go into a care home. They may have cared for them for years, and nobody usually cares for anyone as well as a close relative who loves them. They may have done all they can to avoid the situation of their loved one going into a care home, but when things become too much for any one person to cope with then a care home becomes the only option.
As well as leaving the carer feeling guilt-ridden and emotional, it may mean they are left alone at home after years of being with someone. They will feel as if they’ve ‘lost’ their life-time-partner, or their parent. Even though it’s not a bereavement it can feel like one – and even more so if the person going into the home has dementia or Alzheimers and is on the face of it no longer the person they used to be. They will often beg their carer not to put them in a care home. This is why carers and family members may also need a lot of support from friends and professionals.
If you are one of those carers make sure that you get some support from family or friends in the days, weeks and months that follow your loved one moving into a care home. Life will change for you if you are no longer caring full time. Find activities and clubs to join and if you can, meet up with old and new friends.
Be prepared to feel guilty! Many people say this happens for a while afterwards. Don’t hold onto these feelings, talk to family and friends.
The Right Home
Finding the right home is very important and can be daunting. Associations like Age Uk, Dementia Care and the Social Services can help, but it is a very personal thing.
It’s a good idea to arrange visits to the homes to get a feel for how they care for people and see for yourself whether your relative would be happy there. Very often homes will offer potential residents and their carers to go and have lunch there and will then also give them a tour of the premises. This will help get a feel of the place. You can also observe things like, do the staff make you feel welcome, are they friendly and caring? Do they seem interested in your relative and ask questions about their interests? Do the other residents seem happy and might they be future friends for your loved one? Are there regular activities such as sit-down exercise classes, sing-a-longs, music therapy, quizzes? Is there a garden that your relative could enjoy?
If the carers have devoted years to caring for the person and need help in coping with ’losing’ them, they may want to continue their caring role in partnership with the care home. Talk to the home about this.
The day of the move
This is likely to be a difficult and stressful day. The person going in may be very reluctant and resistant. They may put up a fight – physical or verbal. On the other hand they may have forgotten about it so it will come as a horrible shock.
You may have to tell a white lie and say that the move is a trial or only temporary. In fact this may well be the case as a lot of people go for respite care before it becoming permanent. If all goes well the person will settle in quickly and soon be very happy in their new home.
Make sure the room is homely with photos of family and friends around. A favourite bedspread or comforter is a good idea and will help during this period of settling in.. Place pictures of their family and friends, and items like ornaments that they treasure.
One of the hardest things might be knowing when to say goodbye to the patient, leaving them in the home. They may see this as being abandoned and left all alone. The staff should be able to help by distracting the resident or doing some activity with them.
Often care homes have engaging daily activities which encourage the residents to come out from their rooms, enjoy the company of others and be stimulated. The frequency and selection of activities offered can be good criteria to take into account when you’re deciding on the right care home for your family member as a good activity schedule will help to keep loneliness and boredom at bay.
Popular care home activities include:
Visits from the children of local nurseries or primary schools who come to do arts and crafts. The residents may like to join in or simply enjoy chatting to the children.
Dancing, even if only swaying their arms or clicking from their chair, to songs they grew up listening to and enjoying is a lovely way to spend an afternoon. Bringing back happy memories and getting them moving, this sort of thing is great mentally and physically.
Quizzes about music or general knowledge are a fantastic way to get brains in gear and to get them chatting. It can also be a good way for staff to learn about the residents, like their particular areas of interest.
Staff could put on poetry readings or perhaps the residents could read out their favourite poems. Maybe the residents could even produce a short poem themselves about special memories.
Singing together in a group can be really therapeutic and create a wonderful sense of unity (even if they’re only humming), especially when there’s some good backing music, the lyrics can easily be seen and the songs have been chosen collectively.
Scrapbooking can be a great way to stimulate conversation and the sharing of memories.
A crossword session can get residents working as a team and racking their brains.
Losing Clothes and other personal items.
Our role is very small for someone moving into a care home. However we do what we can to help and many people do come to us for name labels. It may sound trivial but it’s a well known fact that when people are in residential homes, their clothes often get lost or mixed up with other residents. This is degrading and upsetting. It’s upsetting for the residents and it’s upsetting for their families to see other residents wearing their loved ones clothes and to see their loved ones in strange clothes that don’t belong to them.
It’s very difficult for the staff to know whose cardi belongs to who, whose trousers are whose etc. There’s a simple way to prevent this and that is to label the clothing!
Some care homes organise their own name labels for clothes, and we supply many of these on a regular basis. However others leave it to the families to sort out.
Our best-sellers in care homes have long been the Easyfix Clip on labels. The advantage of these is that they are very quick and easy to apply and they withstand the very hot washes that are often used in care home laundries. Also they don’t need any sewing or ironing to apply them and so they can be applied in a resident’s room if needs be, over a cup of tea!
The Easyfix labels (also known as taggits, rivvits and tagg on labels) are attached with a tiny clip which is pushed up through the garment and the name label. It is then snapped off so that only a tiny button-like stud remains, so tiny that it won’t irritate the skin and is even suitable for use on underwear.
The Easyfix name labels themselves are printed and can be printed in colour.
We can also print the resident’s room number on the name tags as this can be useful when sending clean clothing back from the laundry to the resident’s room.
Although the Easyfix Clip on labels have been and still are best sellers in care homes, our iron on name tags are also now very popular.
Iron on name tags used not to be so good at withstanding hot washing temperatures and this is why the Easyfix Clip ons were the most popular. Now however, thanks to a new material, the iron on labels are just as good!
The iron on name tags, when applied properly and with a hot enough iron, will fuse into the garment, a bit like a transfer on a t.shirt, and they will stay on forever. Iron on name labels can also be printed in colour and with a little picture on them if the resident would like this (maybe they like flowers or cats or dogs) – or even with a photo of the resident on the name label! This can be helpful for staff if they don’t yet know the resident’s name.
Our other popular name label is the sticky label. Sticky name labels are best for non-clothing personal items such as those ornaments and belongings mentioned above that residents will bring into their new home with them. They can also be used on things such as walking sticks, wheelie walkers, spectacles, toiletries, shoes, bags – all sorts.
Although we really recommend the iron on labels or the Easyfix clip on labels for clothing, the sticky name labels can in fact be stuck onto the care labels found inside clothes and they will go through the wash as they are totally waterproof. They may not however withstand very hot washes. If you’re in a hurry this would be a very quick way of applying name tags to residents’ clothing, and also a quick fix if someone is going into respite care without much warning.
There are other types of labelling methods on the market such as attach-a-tag and snappy tags. These are fairly large button type studs with names embossed on them. However we have heard from many customers who have tried them that because they are so chunky they are uncomfortable and irritate the residents, especially as elderly people often suffer from having very thin and sensitive skin.
Another of our popular labelling methods is the StampaName. This clothing stamp works just like an office stamp, so is very easy, but the ink inside is textile ink. This means that you can stamp onto clothing and it can then go through the wash. Depending on how high the washing temperatures are, the ink might fade after a certain length of time. The other downside of the stamp is that because the ink is black it only really works on lighter clothing. However you can also buy Stamp packs which include Easyfix Clip on labels or Iron on labels in order to label the lighter clothing.
You can find all of these products on this website. However we also have a simpler website, dedicated to name labels for use in care homes and nursing homes. To visit it please click on www.nametags4carehomes.co.uk