What are some guidelines for choosing an appropriate residence?

For most people, looking for a residential facility is a new experience and they do not always know what they should be looking for. The following guide gives you ideas about how you can go about the task.

You can use Eldernet to find information about a large number of services. Almost all residential care facilities in New Zealand show some information about their service and many provide comprehensive information. In many DHB regions around the country daily bed availability reports are also available. Each facility supplies their own information on the Eldernet website in which they usually describe their facility and services in their own words. By carefully reading this you can begin to identify points of difference between services. Gaps in information can mean several things i.e. that the data has not been completely filled out, that that particular service is not provided etc. If a particular aspect of the service is important to you and you can’t see information about it, ask questions.

Use appropriate professionals and significant others to help you. Discuss your options with those who know your needs and wishes e.g. a social worker, service co-ordinator, family, friends etc. Remember the final decision is yours.

Identify the things that are important to you

     excellent care should be a top priority (Remember, this is why you require this service.)

     proximity to family (If you move away from your home area to be closer to family will they be able to visit more frequently? Be realistic.)

     proximity to your church or other important place of faith (Can you continue to practice your faith?)

     proximity to well known friends and places

     ability to retain an interest in the things that are important to you (such as keeping in touch with clubs and groups)

     the visual appeal of the site

     the size of the facility

     other on-site services (if you have a progressive condition are there appropriate services for you to move to?).

     staffing levels (how do the various facilities you are considering compare?)

     dynamics within the facility

     accountability systems of the facility e.g. what professional associations do they belong to?

     your family and friends can easy visit,

     the physical surroundings are attractive,

     the dynamics between staff and residents are good,

     you are close to other services (shops, bank etc.)

     are all your rooms standard rooms?

     Evaluate and prioritise these factors. It may even be helpful to number the factors according to important they are. How important is it that:

Narrow down the field in which to begin the search. You may decide that you can afford to search over a wide area and may therefore look at every facility in a defined region. However you may choose to narrow the field according to the priorities that you have identified. The search function on the Eldernet website is useful.

Identify potential residences. The information from Eldernet will give you basic, standardised information on all listed facilities and more extensive information from those who have provided it. Select the facilities that best match your requirements. As with most decisions it is advisable to have at least two or more options. It is important to ensure that the facilities that you are interested in have a contract with the health funders (i.e. District Health Board). If you should qualify for a Residential Care Subsidy at any time it is this funder that is responsible. Those who receive a Residential Care Subsidy are only able to reside in a contracted facility. (This is generally not an issue however there are several around the country that are not, so do ask if you are not clear.)

Use the Eldernet CHECKLIST

Visit the facilities. Make an appointment to view each facility in the first instance. That way you can be assured of being given focused attention. It is advisable to set aside at least one hour for the first visit. There is only a limited amount of new information one can absorb at any one time, so a revisit often helps to answer any outstanding questions. Visit during meal times, at evenings or weekends too; people often visit a house more than once before purchasing! This is no different. Be observant; take notice of your intuition. Do you like the feeling of the place? Watch and listen to people interacting; would you feel at home there? Take advantage of any offers of hospitality e.g. cup of tea or meal offer. It is at times like this that people talk more freely. As you will often be seated in a semi public area it gives you the opportunity to closely observe and to get a more accurate impression of the facility. If time permits it may be preferable to visit different facilities on different days.

Ask questions. You have a right to good and appropriate care so you need to ask questions to determine the suitability of each service for you. Ask questions of the staff, residents and some visitors. This will give you a good overall impression of how the service operates.

Make an unannounced visit. Are you treated differently? Do you observe anything that causes you concern?

Read the Admission Agreement. Take this away and read this carefully as it will set out all terms and conditions and itemise costs including any additional payments you agree to.  Additional charges will vary from facility to facility so it is important to ask questions such as:

     Do you have rooms that attract additional charges?

     What services will I have to pay for?

It is recommended that you check your admission agreement carefully and seek independent advice.

If you feel you have made your choice, request a trial period. Managers will often offer you a trial period and you are entitled to ask for this. A useful period is usually about one month and during this time you can get some idea about how well you may ‘fit in' with the place. Usual fees generally apply although you may be offered a trial period at a ‘special rate’. You are of course under no obligation at any time to remain in the facility. If you are clear from the beginning that this is ‘a trial’ then by being more explicit you will feel less obligated to stay.

Once you’ve moved in, begin to make your new place your home. Give yourself time to adjust. It takes time to orientate yourself to your new surroundings, to feel comfortable and to begin making new friends.

You do not have to stay if you feel you have made the wrong choice. It may be that for a variety of reasons the residential facility is just ‘not you’, and you wish to move on. Contact your service coordinator who will ensure that the correct procedures and paperwork are attended to. They will also discuss any other issues you wish to raise. (If you have any serious issues such as concerns about the care being delivered, please let the service coordinator know).

Updated 28/09/2012

© Eldernet 2014