'I investigated over 30 homes' — Daughter shares advice on what to consider when choosing a care home for loved ones

Cheryl Hossle's parents moved into Lilian Faithfull Care's St Faith's nursing home in Cheltenham after 62 years of marriage — and thanks to Cheryl's extensive research, they were able to stay together right until her father passed away.

By Kaleigh Pritchard  |  Published
Although Derek has now passed away, Cheryl's mum, Joyce is still living comfortably at St Faith's.

Looking for care for loved ones can be a stressful process with a variety of elements to consider, such as cost, comfort and visiting flexibility — which can take lots of time and effort.

When Cheryl Hossle needed to find and secure two places in a care home for her parents, Joyce and Derek, she called 30 different nursing facilities, trawling through all their Care Quality Commission (CQC) reports, before happily landing on St Faith's nursing home in Cheltenham — part of the Lilian Faithfull Care family of homes.

SoGlos caught up with Cheryl as she shares details of her experience and advice for those considering the next steps in their loved ones precious lives.

When did you decide it was the right time to start looking into care for your mum and dad?

My mum has vascular dementia and my dad had been caring for her at their home for several years, but it was getting increasingly harder.

When mum started forgetting how to walk she became bed bound. The independent one, in this case my dad, would always say they're fine all the time — I never saw him lose patience, but I could see he was stressed and losing strength.

Home carers only came for half-hour visits, four times a day, so it was a very long day and night.

The decision really came when we started to see she wasn't happy and starting to slip away — she has an active brain and didn't have enough to entertain her.

Can you describe your experience searching for a care home?

We moved both mum and dad into a nursing home, so she could have permanent care and he could get well-deserved respite.

I had to begin searching again when that home closed to nursing residents. I investigated 30 homes before landing on St Faith's. I didn't visit them all, but I called, saw them on drive-by visits and poured over the CQC reports.

I was looking for reliability, but I was also looking for good, solid reports as well as activities on offer at each home.

Lilian Faithfull Care offers such a diverse range of activities for residents, from cooking and gardening to crafts and exercise classes — they also do off-site trips to accessible attractions across Gloucestershire.

The home manager, Teresa Weis, has so much knowledge. The chat we had was hugely influential in helping us to know the best place to move my parents to. We had absolutely no complaints at the first home, but St Faith's is like a palace, out of this world.

What were some of the other important elements you were looking for in a care home?

Visiting was important for us and I've been able to pop in at any time. We have the kitchen to make our own tea and coffee when visiting and I go in and share it over a catch up.

I also wanted their new home to feel comfortable, warm and friendly — as familiar as possible. It needed to be a home that could care for couples and the Fairhaven Suite at St Faith's had a bedroom that they could share.

Dad had his big 88th birthday party here and the staff went the extra mile with cake and decorations. We all sang together and it was a real family day, absolutely fantastic and a treasured memory.

Cost is also something that everyone is considering when looking for a nursing home. Lilian Faithfull Care are brilliant because they are a charity. They have a philosophy of 'home for life', and this means that they will never ask you to move out, regardless of personal funds. That's really settling and reassuring for families.

What were the impressions from your mum and dad once they were settled in at St Faith's?

Very quickly after arriving, dad said, 'This is my home.'

He commented on how kind and thoughtful the staff were and this gave us total trust in St Faith's — something you really need as family members.

The care, activities, cleanliness, furnishings and equipment are all amazing. The carers don't just help with essential care like feeding, they engage with the residents at the same time. How they interact with people is excellent and is what stands out at St Faith's. Even though mum is living with dementia, she is treated with respect.

Looking at her now and all the things that she's doing, she has a good quality of life. The array of activities at St Faith's is marvellous, including arts and crafts, pet visits, musicians and student volunteers to chat to. Mum was a piano teacher, so she loves listening to the music.

She's on a puree-only diet which is all beautifully piped and set out, making it as normal as possible — they often prepare things like tiramisu so that she can still enjoy sophisticated, delicious flavours.

All these little details make up the big picture.

What was your father's end of life care like?

My mum and dad were together until the very end and I know my dad would want to me to say thank you.

I sit here knowing that he had a wonderful time, full of gentle care, during the six weeks he lived at St Faith's.

They had a double room in the Fairhaven Suite, which specialises in end of life care, so I know he was in the best of hands.

The carers were so brilliant and very gentle with him. I honestly don't think you could get better care. When the phone call came to say dad had passed, the nurse was able to thoroughly talk me through the next steps and what we needed to do next as a family.

What advice would you give to people looking for care for a loved one?

I don't think going into care is something that should be feared. For anyone going through this phase, I would say absolutely don't panic.

It can be the best way forward for the whole family. Once your loved ones are being cared for, fed properly and sleeping well they can rally quite a bit, allowing you to be able to share a really precious piece of time with them.

To find out more about how Lilian Faithfull Care can help you and your family, visit lilianfaithfull.co.uk or call the St Faith's team on (01242) 240240.

In partnership with Lilian Faithfull Care  |  lilianfaithfull.co.uk

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