Book a care home virtual visit

Book a care home virtual visit

What is a Virtual Visit at a care home?

The Virtual Visit icon, and ‘Book a visit’ tab on an Autumna profile page, is displayed when a care home has told us they are happy to conduct show-rounds for prospective residents using video conferencing and chat apps such as Zoom, WhatsApp, Skype, FaceTime or Microsoft Teams.

The virtual visit icon makes booking your care home visit easy
Virtual visits to care homes are easy

If you are choosing a care home there are always going to be a whole host of questions you will want to ask about what you can expect life to be like once you move in. Before the Coronvirus pandemic hit, this would involve, at some point, a physical visit to the home, to check out the facilities and meet the staff.

Why are care homes offering virtual visits?

Of course, since COVID-19 struck this is very much harder to organise.  Although every care home is naturally keen to show off their facilities and staff to prospective residents, their overriding focus has to be on safeguarding their existing residents against any infection being brought into the home.

So, although you may hear that care homes are accepting visitors in-person now, that is generally only for family members visiting an elderly relative who is resident already.

The traditional, in-person, show-round, for the time being at least, is not something most care homes are willing to offer.

Instead though, they are embracing new technologies, and to a much larger extent, offering virtual visits.

The virtual visits take a variety of forms, and should not be confused with a virtual tour which is more likely to be a reference to a 360˚ or 3D animation like those produced by 3Dvista  or Matterport.

No need to attend the care home show round in person
No need to attend in person

What types of care home virtual visits are there?

  1. Some virtual visits will be pre-recorded and might feature testimonials from residents and family members. They will also include interviews with staff. These recordings can be emailed or shared on platforms like dropbox.
  2. Other care providers will set up virtual meetings (or conferences). These allow prospective residents and their families to ‘meet’ the managers and staff and get all the answers they need to the many questions they will no doubt want to ask.
  3. The virtual visit that really seems to offer everything though are the ones that use technologies like WhatsApp, FaceTime, Skype or Zoom on a hand-held device. These tend to involve, not just a question and answer session with staff, but an interactive show-round too.

    What can you expect from a virtual visit to a care home?

    A member of staff, usually the care home liaison manager, will take a mobile phone or tablet, and will walk you round the building. They will show you the actual rooms they have available, the communal facilities, the kitchen, the garden if they have one, and will introduce you to the other staff at the home. 

    The whole tour is very interactive.

    A virtual visit can be arranged at a mutually convenient time for you and the care home.

    Virtual show rounds are part of a care home's infection control procedures
    Virtual visits aid infection control

    How do I book a care home virtual visit on Autumna?

    You can book a virtual visit to a care home on Autumna, simply by clicking the ‘virtual visit’ button.

    You will be presented a short form to complete that will be emailed to the manager of the care home.

    They will then call or email you to book an appointment.

    Once a time and date are decided, depending on what technology the care home uses for its virtual show-rounds, you will receive an email invitation with log in details.

    If, for example, the care home uses the Zoom app for its virtual visits, you will need to make sure you have downloaded that app onto whatever device you will want to use for your tour.

    The virtual visit is an excellent option while social distancing measures are in place. And even when they are lifted, they present a great option to families looking for elderly care, especially where significant distances are involved – for example you may be looking for a care home for an elderly relative in the area where they live, which could be hundreds of miles from you.

    One final tip - check the social media pages of care homes.

    A show round, whether virtual or in person, will probably last no longer than an hour, and will provide just a snapshot of what a care home might have to offer in comparison to their Facebook feed.

    Facebook and similar social media platforms are an excellent way of finding out about how a care home operates over a longer period of time. ‘Like’ their pages and you will be kept up to date with news on staff, activities, and general daily life in the home.

    It’s an excellent way to judge the personality of a home and to assess whether you, or your elderly relative might be a suitable match.

    Hand held devices and apps like Zoom have revolutionised the traditional care home visit
    Will the old care home visits return?

    What questions should I ask during a care home visit?

    Whether it’s a virtual visit to a care home on Zoom, Skype, FaceTime or via some other digital portal, or you are able to book a visit in-person, it’s important to be prepared and have a list of questions ready.

    These questions could include:

    1. Which specific rooms do you have available? Ensure you see the actual room that is being offered to you.
    2. Am I allowed to bring my own furniture?
    3. What is the staff-to-resident ratio?
    4. Who is the manager and what experience does he/she have?
    5. What kind of experience and training do the carers have?
    6. What infection control procedures do you have?
    7. When is medication administered?
    8. Could I see the menu for the restaurant?
    9. Are mealtimes flexible and can residents eat in their own room if they wish?
    10. What regular activities and excursions does the care home run?
    11. Are all services included in the monthly fee?
    12. What level of funds do we need to show to be accepted into the home?
    13. Is there a contract we have to sign, and can that be downloaded?
    14. Can residents choose what time they get up and go to bed?
    15. Do residents have their own GP?
    16. Is there a residents committee?
    17. Can wheelchairs go everywhere, including outside?
    18. Are toilets available and accessible in all parts of the home?

    Whatever methods you use to visit a care home before making a decision on whether it’s the best care home for your particular needs, it’s worth using the Autumna website first, to narrow down your search and produce a shortlist.

    You can then use this shortlist to begin your more detailed enquiries.

    A care home profile on Autumna has over 200 search fields and allows you to narrow your search to specific care homes that can provide the elderly care you need.

    Your question might be, “How do I find a care home near me that provides dementia care?” With Autumna though, you can be even more specific.

    If your question was, “How do I find a care home near me that accepts people living with dementia and exhibiting challenging behaviour?” An Autumna search can find this for you.

    What if your question was, “How can I find a care home near me that is rated as outstanding by the care quality commission?” Again, Autumna allows you to make that search very easily.

    You might also say, “How can I be sure the care home I choose employs stringent infection control procedures so I know it will be the safest place for my elderly relative?”

    Again, Autumna can help here, with its S.A.F.E. icon. S.A.F.E. in this case stands for Symptom Assessment for Everyone. Care homes that can prove, through 3rd party validated information, that they are controlling infection, can upload that information and display a searchable icon on their Autumna profile.

    At the time of writing, the only 3rdparty validated information available is the CQC Covid-19 Emergency Support Framework support call summary report.

    However as other infection control measures become available, such as better symptom assessment and testing equipment, then evidence of these will be included in a care home’s profile too.

    If you’re not sure where to start in your search for elderly care, and you still have questions like:

    “How do I find the right care home for me?” or “How do I find a care home that is a safe place for my mum or dad?” then call the advice line at Autumna. 01892 33 53 30. Our team of friendly elderly care experts will help you.

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