A FRESH attempt to take the heat out of Britain’s growing residential care crisis has been launched in Dorset
Care Home Bedfinder enables relatives looking for a place for their elderly loved ones to search locally via a new web service.
The way it works is that care homes register the beds they have available with the site, and relatives search the site to find a good match for the kind of care they need…and can afford.
Company Director Christine Whitham says: “When relatives reach that point in life where they have to put a parent or grandparent into a home it has to be one of the most terrifying experiences a family has to go through.
“Ultimately, it’s about them having to give up their liberty and be cared for outside of the family for the first time.”
The ambitious service will be launched in Dorset and is rolling out across the country over the course of the year. Malcolm Added “There are currently around 480,00 care beds in the UK with a further 140,000 expected to be needed over the next decade, due to people living longer.
“Yet there is a real lack of independent and quality information. Relatives generally want their loved ones living nearby. They also want crucial information on things like funding and inspection reports.
“We offer all the relevant documents – such as the care homes’ official inspection report conducted by the Care Quality Commission – but also we explain what it means.”
The Care Home Bedfinder site is a database containing information on around 18,500 homes. Relatives can locate homes close to where they live. Care homes pay an annual fee to sign up. It
means that when a relative finds a home they like, they can send it details of their loved one direct, and arrange a visit. They will also be able to read reviews from other users of the care home. Each elderly resident will have their own ‘passport’ on the site showing their interests and background to try match them to an appropriate type of home.
For the NHS, it means they will be able to book vacant care beds online directly, if the home feels able to meet the patient’s needs. “We hope it will alleviate the problem of bed blocking as it means NHS Trusts won’t have to spend hours ringing around care homes for a suitable bed,” said Malcolm, who has worked with care homes for 14 years as a supplier.
“No wonder it’s such an emotional journey for siblings which is why we want to give them as much help as possible – to take the emotion out of it.”
The idea was prompted by the sheer number of people having a traumatic time trying to find care.
“A friend of mine had to put her father in care. Unfortunately, he was suffering from dementia, and she had real problems finding a suitable place.
“In the end she was forced to accept second best because of a perceived lack of choice, and she regrets her decision to this day.”