Maggie's guide

Christmas 2012 Dancing Gangnam Style

Ruby and her grandson, Patrick, dancing 'Gangnam Style', Christmas 2012

Finding a nursing home place for a relative can be a confusing and frustrating process, particularly if the urgent need to do so arises. I found myself in this situation when I had to find a place for my late mother, Ruby, and have volunteered to share some of the experiences we went through in the hope that it might help other people faced with similar circumstances.

To provide a little of the context, my mother was aged ninety-one when she was diagnosed with cancer in the summer of 2013. Given her age, frailty and the stage of the disease the prognosis was not good, but she managed to carry on living by herself in sheltered accommodation for the rest of the year. We had to get additional help to enable her to do this and unfortunately there were times where we found this process difficult.

I’ve put together a guide based on my experiences for anybody else going through a similar situation:

It’s important to manage your expectations and set realistic timescales for things such as calls, visits and assessments as these can be dependent on staff availability

  • You should receive written confirmation of all decisions made throughout the process – follow up with the right person if you don’t
  • Ensure you have up-to-date contact information including names, titles and phone numbers
  • Keep a log of when things happen, for example, any phone calls you make (who you spoke to), letters received and appointments attended
  • If you’re not sure, ask. I found that there were certain aspects of the process which weren’t properly explained to us and there’s a lot to remember at a time like this
  • Do your own research; don’t wait for people to contact you, have a look at care homes in your local area and prepare to do some ringing round – you can find a list of homes in west Essex by clicking here
  • Don’t forget to ask whether the care home accepts NHS funded residents as not all of them do
  • Be prepared that at certain times of the year, particularly during winter, demand on care home places can be high
  • The CCG’s Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) are available to help with any queries, concerns and complaints you may have during the application process for Continuing Healthcare.
  • Be prepared to fight your corner – nobody else will care about your relative as much as you do