Caring for a loved one in their old age is a demanding job, both physically and emotionally. Seeing them in such a state where they have trouble doing the things they love is difficult to deal with. This is especially so if that loved one is suffering from dementia. As dementia is a progressive condition, the emotional strain on you will also progressively increase as they slowly forget parts of their life, one after the other.

In this vulnerable stage of their life, you might be inclined to care for them yourself in an attempt to keep them away from a nursing home. However, there will come a time when you will not be able to meet those needs, either due to personal circumstances or unforeseen emergencies. And when that time comes, you will have to make the decision to move your loved ones to permanent aged care.

But how do you know which care provider to trust? This will no doubt be a difficult question to answer, considering the high stakes of entrusting the life of someone you care about to complete strangers. You will have to do a lot of research and weigh all of your options depending on the services you and your loved one want to have in a nursing home. To help in that respect, here are a few questions you could ask while interviewing aged care providers.

How long has your company been in operation?

Although the length of time a nursing home has been around doesn’t necessarily indicate how much experience it has, it does give you an opening to a line of questioning that follows the nursing home’s history and background. If the nursing home is relatively new, you can ask about what differentiates them from other homes. If they have already been operating for several years, you can ask about the changes made to the aged care industry in recent years, and what they have done to their operations to adapt to those changes.

What is your philosophy when caring for those with dementia?

This question may seem a bit abstract, but the context behind is significant enough to make or break your decision to make use of a nursing home’s services. The philosophy of any company is a condensed statement that shows what they believe in, and it has close ties to their priorities in their service as well as their general operations. How will they care for your loved one’s emotional well-being? Do they offer counselling or therapy services? If their philosophy does not line up with the type of care you want to see offered, you may want to start looking elsewhere.

Have you handled cases similar to my loved one’s?

Each dementia case is to an extent unique, but similarities in some aspects do tend to show up. Asking this question, then, gives you some insight as to their experience with dementia cases. Ideally you would also want to be referred to the relatives of residents with a similar case as that of your loved one, so you can ask them about their experiences with the nursing home. If the nursing home somehow does not have any references to give, or otherwise refuses to make any references under the pretence of “confidentiality”, that will come off as a red flag.

How do you choose your caregivers?

The caregiver is the life blood of the nursing home and is the defining factor of its performance. After all, high quality facilities may be nice, but they mean nothing if the caregivers do not meet the same standards of quality. Asking about the nursing home’s hiring process should give you an idea of the standards they set for the quality of care they give their residents.

What sort of memory care training do you give your caregivers?

Caring for an elder with dementia is a lot more complicated than caring for one without, so it’s important to know that their caregivers are trained and prepared to handle such cases.

Do you make a care plan for each client?

People suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s tend to behave differently, making each case vary one way or another. A good aged care provider should take the time to work with the patient’s relatives to develop a care plan tailored to the patient’s individual needs.

How will the caregivers communicate with me?

Once you’ve placed your loved one under permanent care, the caregiver serves as the bridge that connects you to your loved one. It is important, then, that you have clear lines of communication with their caregiver so you have an idea of your loved one’s condition.

What is your policy if my loved one’s caregiver is not available?

Caregivers are human, too – they won’t be there to care for your loved one every hour of the day, every day of the year. How will the nursing home handle substitutions? Do the substitutes have the same level of training as the original caregiver? How will the substitute contact me if the primary is not available?

What is your policy in the event of an emergency?

Emergencies will happen at some point, so it is important to know how the nursing home will react to these situations. A good nursing home should have a comprehensive emergency plan that will handle various situations, and will also take the time to involve you or your relatives as well.

How will the caregiver build a relationship with my loved one?

Trust is one of the most important things to have and maintain between your loved one and their caregiver. It is important for any caregiver to develop a strong bond with your loved one, as in all likelihood, that caregiver will be with your loved one for what could be the rest of their life. Clear communication between you and the caregiver is key to achieving this.

Hopefully, these questions will help you in your selection process to find the best care provider for your loved one. Be sure to also come back to your shortlist of nursing homes for follow-up questions and inquiries so that by the end you will give your loved one to hands you can truly trust.

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