Choosing the right aged care home – whether it’s for yourself or someone you love – can be a daunting prospect. Of all the decisions around care, this is the one you most want to get right.

When you go on a tour of an aged care home (which you should absolutely do before picking one), it can be easy to get taken in by the pretty décor and landscaped gardens.

What’s important, though, isn’t how the place looks, it’s how the residents are treated: if you or your loved one aren’t respected as the individuals you are, then you won’t be happy, no matter lovely the place appears on the surface.

Thankfully, a registered nurse with 23 years of aged care experience shared with the Gold Coast Bulletin her tips on what to look out for when you visit a residential home.

Armed with this checklist, you’ll have a better shot at making the right call.

1. What is the home like at different times of day?

There will be different staff ratios for morning and evening shifts, with different workers rostered on at each time – so be sure to visit at multiple times of the day.

2. Are there enough staff?

Watch and see if staff look tired, stressed, or rushed, or if they’re being rough with residents, because if so, chances are the facility is understaffed.

3. Do the workers like their jobs?

If you visit on the weekend, when management usually isn’t around, you can likely make small talk with staff members and find out if they enjoy their roles – and if they have manageable workloads.

4. What is the food like?

You’ll want to be there at mealtimes so you can see how much food residents get, as well as get a sense of its quality and variety.

5. What is the atmosphere like at mealtimes?

Are there enough staff members to help residents, including feeding them if necessary? Are the residents seated comfortably? Is there water available on the tables?

6. Do residents like the food?

If they don’t, how willing are kitchen staff to accommodate their likes and dislikes?

7. Does the facility look clean?

Does it smell of urine or faeces? Can you see soiled-linen trolleys, and are they overflowing?

8. Are there any spills on the floor?

Having a fall is dangerous for older people, so it’s important that they’re not at risk from slippery floors.

9. Are the residents well-groomed?

Are the men clean-shaven? Are residents’ clothes clean? Do they have clean fingernails? Is there food left on their faces after mealtimes?

10. How do the bedrooms look?

Bedrooms should be well-maintained, with clean linen; you’ll also want to know if residents can have personal items like photos.

11. How do the bathrooms look?

They should be clean and tidy, with fresh towels available.

12. Is there enough water?

Australia has a hot climate, so a water jug and glass for each person is a must.

13. Are the blankets adequate?

Older people generally have poor circulation, and thus feel the cold much worse than others.

14. What activities are available?

Can residents go outside or to the shops? Are there regularly organised activities they can participate in?

15. How regularly do patients’ GPs visit?

Especially as you get older, it’s important to have regular visits with your doctor.

Remember – if something about the home seems off, you should shop around and look for the best option you can find. After all, you wouldn’t want to send your loved one to a place you wouldn’t want to live in yourself!

If you are confused on where to start when getting yourself or your loved one into care, visit YourConcierge101. All you have to do is answer 17 multiple choice questions, and we’ll provide you with a tailored toolkit with tips and tricks for your situation, as well as some aged care facilities that might suit. Best of all? It’s absolutely free.

Click the button below to find out more.

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