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Moving a Parent Into a Care Home

Article by Daniel Westhead Daniel Westhead Sure Safe Alarms

When parents or older relatives are experiencing worsening health problems, it can be difficult to know what’s best for their wellbeing. Can they stay safely and happily at home with some supports in place or will a move to a care home give them the highest possible quality of life?

If you’ve decided that moving a parent into a care home is best for them, there are more complicated decisions to make. How do you choose a home for an older loved one who needs nursing home care? And how do you make sure their transition to the care or nursing home goes as smoothly as possible?

In this blog, we’ll cover all the ins and outs of moving a parent into a care home, including what to consider at each step of the process.

What types of care are available?

First, we should clarify that care homes and nursing homes aren’t necessarily the same thing – although sometimes people use the terms interchangeably.

Here are the different levels of care you can choose when an older person’s care needs mean they need professional support in a dedicated residence …

Assisted living

Assisted living is not considered a type of care home, but it does involve moving to a different home where higher levels of care are professionally provided.

In assisted living, an older person will live in their own flat, unlike residents in a care home, who typically have a bedroom or suite in a shared facility. However, assisted living typically provides some level of help with personal care, such as bathing.

Care homes

A care home is a residence where an older person lives in a room or suite while sharing common areas with other residents. The home usually provides personal care as well as general care for residents’ wellbeing in the form of activities.

Nursing homes

The main difference between a nursing home and a care home is that a nursing home provides access to professional nurses at any time as well as the amenities of a care home. This option is best for older people with greater medical needs.

Who needs nursing home care?

Since older people’s care needs may gradually increase over time, it can be challenging to identify the turning point at which they can no longer be sufficiently cared for at home.

Although every elderly person’s situation is unique, here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • Is the older person no longer safe? Are they unable to stay nourished or hydrated? Are they falling often? Are they unable to maintain a healthy level of hygiene in terms of bathing or the cleanliness of their home? Does dementia mean they are at risk of wandering into a dangerous situation or creating a dangerous situation at home – for example, by turning on the cooker and then leaving food to burn?
  • Is the older person a danger to others? Are family or in-home carers unable to lift them to help with personal care or moving them around? Or is the older person experiencing aggression due to dementia?
  • Are the older person’s medical needs increasing to the point at which care at home isn’t enough?
  • Is the older person consistently unhappy or distressed? This might be because they are struggling under the burden of self-care, because they are disturbed by early dementia symptoms, or because they feel isolated.

Another question to ask is which in-home supports have been tried to help an elderly person remain in their home. These could involve:

  • Modifications such as railings to help with physical movement
  • A higher level of professional care in the home, such as increasing the time a carer spends in the older person’s home, or moving from generalised help like cleaning to in-home personal care by a care professional
  • Devices such as personal alarms that alert family or a response centre if an older person falls or needs help while alone.

How to get someone into a care home

If, after considering these questions, you feel that a care or nursing home is right for your older loved one, what do you do next? We’ve listed some steps below.

1. Needs assessment

We’ve already discussed some questions that play into the decision about an older person’s care needs. But in fact, your local council can help provide insight too.

When you request a care needs assessment from your local council, they’ll decide what level of care your older loved one needs. If they feel the older person requires the support of a care home, they’ll let you know how to get someone into a care home that suits their needs. And if they judge that your older relative could actually thrive in their own home with more care supports, they’ll give you that information too.

2. Means test

After a needs assessment determines that an older person needs care in a home, the next step is a means test. This is where the council decides how much an older person will pay for their own care and how much the council will cover based on the person’s financial situation.

The current threshold for receiving some financial contribution from your council toward care is less than £23,250 in savings. However, this figure will rise to £100,000 in October of 2025.

3. Select a home and sign a contract

Once the means test is complete, it’s time to choose a home.

When an older person is self-funding care, families can simply look at homes in a desired location and choose one that fits the needs of the older person who needs nursing home care.

An older person still has the right to choose their own care home if the council is paying toward care. However, you have to choose a home that fits the needs identified in the needs assessment. If an older person would like to reside in a care home that provides a higher level of care than the needs assessment indicated, another person (not the person in the care home) will have to pay the difference between the type of home the council decided was appropriate and the cost of the more expensive home. This is called a “top-up” payment.

When you sign the contract to move into a care home, be sure to look at it closely to understand what each party is responsible for and what additional costs could arise.

Notify companies, the council and friends of the move

Just as with any move, it’s important to let everyone relevant know about the older person’s change of address. This can include the benefits office if benefits eligibility is affected.

What happens if just one spouse goes into a care home?

The means test usually does take property into account when judging an older person’s financial situation and capacity to pay for care. However, if one spouse moves into a care home and another remains in their established home, that property is not considered as a part of the means test. In other words, the spouse who remains should not have to move out of their home or sell it in order to pay for the other spouse’s care home.

The means test will usually assume that if two spouses share a bank account, each “owns” one half of that money.

What to consider when choosing a care home

When you’re moving a parent into a care home, you’ll naturally want to find the best possible care or nursing home to suit their needs. Some factors to keep in mind as you make the decision include …

  • Location – Is the home close to friends and family so that visiting is convenient? If the elderly person likes to go for walks, is the home in a location that makes walking possible?
  • Care Quality Commission rating – The CQC rates monitors the quality of care homes and provides ratings so that you can make an informed decision about choosing a home.
  • Level of care and needs – Does the home provide the type of care your elderly loved one requires? If they have a medical condition that’s likely to worsen, will the home be able to provide a greater level of care or would the older person have to move?
  • Autonomy – What level of freedom does the older person have to choose their own activities, mealtimes, bedtime and other aspects of daily life?
  • Socialising – What is the social life of the home like? What activities are available?
  • Friendliness and cleanliness – When you visit the home, is it clean? Are the staff friendly and do the residents appear happy?
  • Health, religious or other requirements – If an older person needs a special diet or has other particular needs such as a disability, can the home accommodate them? Will the home allow them to follow their religious practice?
  • Cost – How much can you afford for care costs and how much will your local council cover?

Overall, keep in mind that the outcome you’re seeking is a home in which your elderly loved one can feel happy and thriving in their later years. Some care homes even allow older people to visit for a day or have a trial stay to see how the home feels to them. It’s great to take advantage of these opportunities.

How personal alarms can help older people to remain in their own homes for longer

What happens if you decide that moving a parent into a care home isn’t necessary?

Then you may want to create an “ageing in place” care plan that weaves together support from carers and technologies. Perhaps an older person can live very safely in their own home with a combination of modifications to the physical space, smart tech and carers visiting to provide personal care.

In this case, a personal alarm for the elderly can be a great choice to provide seniors and families with peace of mind. For example, if you or an elderly loved one are worried about the dangers of falls, a personal alarm with automatic fall detection ensures that no fall will go unnoticed. The alarm will detect the fall by itself, even if its wearer isn’t able to press any buttons, and it will immediately call family or a response centre for help. That’s reassuring for seniors who have conditions that can raise the risk of falls, ranging from arthritis to Parkinson’s disease, or who just suffer from the decreased balance and strength that many older people experience.

A talking pendant alarm can also help ensure that a senior never feels isolated or disconnected from help. The press of just one button on these pendants connects the wearer to a family member or response centre, allowing the older person to speak to their helper directly through the pendant. That means there’s no worry about getting to a phone in the cases of a crisis, whether that’s an epileptic seizure, illness like pneumonia or any other problem that needs assistance. An older person living independently will never feel alone if trouble arises.

What else can personal alarms to do keep older people safe while they’re residing in their own homes? Call SureSafe on 0800 112 3201 to talk to us about our range of easy-to-use, highly rated alarms and you’ll see why we’re a market leader in personal alarms for the elderly. Alternatively, get in touch with us through our live chat or just request a call back. We’re here to help.

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