7 Things to consider when choosing an old age home

Choosing an old age home for your loved one is one of the most important steps you will ever have to take for your parents.

It’s difficult to entrust an old age home with the care of your parent so here are seven things to consider to ensure you make a decision you’ll be comfortable with:

1.Find out about the old age home as a business

The first thing to establish is how long the business has been running. Experience achieved through length of service count a lot in this type of business. Ask the old age home manager about the owners of the business, and the qualifications of the matron as well as managerial staff. Has the owner ever run a home before or do they have other homes? Does the business own the premises or are they tenants (here today gone tomorrow)?

2.Enquire about the staff at the old age home

Good nursing has everything to with the staff. If they are happy and well-trained, the residents experience good nursing care. Spend some time with the matron and sisters and see how they interact with the staff. Ask about the criteria they adopt when they employ new staff and for staff training. How do they monitor the performance and progress of each staff member? How long have the staff members been with the old age home? Are the staff full-time or temporary/volunteers?

There are four main categories of nursing staff in order of importance: Registered nurses, staff nurses, nursing auxiliaries and care workers. Ask the home which categories of nurses they have at the home.

3.Staff to resident ratio

Check how many staff members are on duty with each shift. Then divide the number of residents by the number of nursing staff per shift to get a ratio.

A small number means the home offers adequate staff, a big number means there may be too few staff members.

4.Nursing care at the old age home

Ask the matron at the old age home to show you how they go about their day-to-day care. Also ask them to show you one of their resident files. Things to take note of is whether the files are neatly compiled and if they contain comprehensive and detailed information on the resident. Ask the matron how medicines are administered and recorded. Check that the home balances the stock of scheduled 5,6,7 drugs.

Check whether the old age home belongs to an association which upholds high standards in the industry. This is always a good indication of how seriously they consider their work.

5.Meals and general hygiene

Meals are extremely important in the lives of residents and plays a big part in their well-being. Ask to take a look at the kitchen and the pantry. Look for cleanliness and order as well as food freshness. Check the menus and make sure they offer healthy meals. Discuss your loved one’s specific dietary requirements and dislikes. Also check the sluice and laundry rooms to see how clean and hygienic they are.


Check if the old age home offers in-house entertainment. It’s proven that patients suffering from senile dementia benefit from an environment in which they are made to feel welcome and kept busy. Also check whether the old age home offers occupational therapy programmes.

7.Costs and legalities

Before entering into any agreement with an old age home ask to take home and read copies of all the agreements you will be required to sign. Ascertain whether you have the right to terminate the agreement should you be unsatisfied with the service and care of the home. And determine which costs you will incur should you terminate this agreement.

Should the home require an upfront capital payment, find out a little about the business’ liquidity and financial health. Unfortunately, there have been cases where homes and villages have closed down and residents lost their investments.

Ask the home to give you a summary of the increases they’ve applied over the years and ask how increases are determined. This will help you budget.

Finally, ask the old age home to specify exactly which items are included in their fee and which aren’t.

These seven steps will help you make an informed decision when choosing and old age home for your loved one.