I'm A Care Home Manager — Here's How To Navigate Moving A Parent Into A Care Home

<span class="copyright">sanjeri via Getty Images</span>
sanjeri via Getty Images

Even if you know that it’s right and your parent’s care team has advised that it’s best for you and your parent, moving a parent into a care home can be incredibly difficult, especially if they suffer from dementia.

HuffPost UK spoke exclusively with Caroline Naidoo, Managing Director at KYN care homes, a London-based care home group, to learn more about how we can deal with this difficult process and, where possible, help our parents to understand why it’s happening.

How to cope with the guilt of moving a parent into a care home

Naidoo said: “KYN opened its doors to residents at our first home, KYN Bickley, in February 2023 so we’re experienced in supporting new residents and their families before, during and after the transition period.

“If you’re struggling with guilt about moving a parent into a care home, there are some practical steps you can take to ease this.”

1. Research different care homes to find the right fit for your loved one 

Naidoo recommends spending time researching homes until you find one that feels like a good fit for your parent. She added: “Care homes vary in services and amenities, so it is worth exploring several options before making your choice.

“Taking the time to decide can help you feel more comfortable with the decision.”

2. Arrange a visit to the home together

While you may feel that this is a burden of yours to carry, you and your loved one can collaborate to make this decision together.

Naidoo suggested: “Arrange a visit to the home together to explore the home, meet the team and other residents, and experience what everyday life might be like in a new care home.

“Visiting at different times of the day and attending any social events they may be holding can also be useful. Make sure you take plenty of time during your visit; it’s important that both you and your loved one can ask the questions you want and get a feel for the home. ”

There is no obligation during these visits, but they could make the process seem a little less intimidating.

Understand the transition process, and what to expect

Once you’ve chosen a home, you can start to get to grips with the transition process and what to expect. Naidoo said: “Familiarise yourself with the home’s space and services and speak to the team about how they will help your loved one adjust.

“Understanding this fully is often a good way to reassure everyone during a process that can naturally be filled with emotions. It’s important that you take the time to understand what your loved one should expect and let them feel heard and supported.”

How to explain a grandparent moving into a care home to grandchildren

Of course, somebody moving to a care home impacts the whole family but for grandchildren, it can be a little more confusing to see their grandparent in such a setting.

Naidoo advised that when explaining that a grandparent is moving into care, the delivery should be gentle and tailored to their age and understanding.

She said: “Children may have a lot of questions, so for younger children, simple and reassuring explanations about their grandparents needing care can be helpful.

“For older children, providing more detailed reasons and addressing their feelings is important.”

Naidoo added that parents shouldn’t shy away from taking their children to care homes, adding, “At KYN, we have a warm and inviting atmosphere with plenty of activities for everyone to take part in, including a screening room, workshops, and engaging activities that grandchildren can do with their grandparents.”

How to cope if a parent takes a move to a care home badly

While a move to a care home is almost always a good thing, some people understandably take it quite hard. Naidoo said: “If a loved one is struggling with the transition, there’s so much you can do to support them through this and make it easier.”

Stay in touch regularly, including visits & phone calls

While the relationship may feel a little frayed, staying in touch is essential. Naidoo said: “Stay in touch with your loved one through regular visits, phone calls and letters. It’s a good idea to plan a regular day and time to visit to give your loved one a routine so they know when to expect you.”

She added that it’s worth checking in with the home to know if there are any policies or visiting times that you should know about first.

Encourage new friendships with nurses, carers & other residents 

While your family member may feel isolated, it’s important to remind them that there are people surrounding them that can support them and help them to settle in their new home.

Naiboo said: “Encourage them to get to know their nurses, carers and other residents in the home.

“Healthy relationships increase your sense of worth and belonging and will help your loved one feel less lonely and happier in their new home. Getting to know people will help smooth the transition by helping them feel more settled.”

Remember to look after yourself, too

Throughout all of this, your wellbeing matters, too. Do what you need to do to keep yourself afloat during this process and, if you do experience guilt, remind yourself how much better their life will be when they’re getting the 24/7 support that they need.