Who Decides When Someone Needs to Go Into a Care Home?

Aging can be tough business. As we grow older, we face decisions about issues that simply previously had not been on the table. Ultimately, for a decent percentage of the population, the prospect of moving into some type of senior care center or senior care home becomes an issue. This reality raises the question of who decides when someone needs to go into a care home?

The Quick Answer

There is a quick answer to the question of who decides if the time has arrived for a person to go into a care home? That answer is:

It depends.

Through this article, we will explain the nuances associated with the answer we just provided to the question about who decides whether a person needs to enter a care home.

The Person 

Absent a showing that an individual is not capable of making major life decisions – like where to live – on his or her own, it is the person his or her self who is in the position to decide whether or not he or she should move into a care home of some type. An older person doesn’t surrender his or her agency merely because he or she has grown older. 

Rather, there must be some type of physical, mental, or emotional health condition that has rendered it impossible for an older individual to make an informed decision about where to live. The only real exception to this dictate is if an older person has knowingly and voluntarily designated another individual to make these types of decisions on that individual’s behalf.

The Children

A reality associated with deciding when a person needs to go into a care home is that many times that individual’s children will be involved in the decision-making process. It is also possible that some other relatives beyond children may become involved in that process, particularly if the older individual has no children or no children readily available to that person.

In many cases, when children are involved in the care home decision-making process, there are no formal structures involving that participation. In other words, the children technically are informally involved in the home care decision-making process and don’t have any definitive legal authority or power to be a part of that endeavor. 

In some cases, a parent will turn to his or her children (or perhaps other relatives) and seek advice about moving into a care home community. In other instances, the children may have some concerns about a parent continuing to live alone in his or her residence. The children may believe that aging alone is no longer the best course for a parent to take.

Oftentimes, informal deliberation of this nature can result in the parent and children reaching a consensus about future living arrangements. The fact is that this is an ideal way in which to make a decision regarding whether or not a care home for an older person makes the most sense at this juncture in time. 

The Designated Caretaker

Some people create powers of attorney to allow another individual the ability to aid and assist in making different types of decisions on their behalf. For example, an individual might create a financial power of attorney. This type of instrument gives another individual the ability to make financial decisions on behalf of the individual who created the power of attorney. 

There can also be a power of attorney for medical or healthcare decisions. These most often come into use in situations in which the person who created the instrument is not able to make decisions personally in regard to medical care and treatment. 

There can be situations in which a delegated caretaker may be in a position to make the decision about whether or not an older person should transition into some type of care home setting. This most often occurs if an older person has developed some type of cognitive issue and had already created a medical power of attorney.

The Appointed Caretaker

Finally, there are situations in which an individual lacks the capacity to make a decision regarding moving to a care home. In addition, that person did not previously delegate authority to another person to act on his or her behalf in regard to an issue like moving to a care home. Moreover, that individual also lacks any close family members who are available to assist in ensuring that person has appropriate housing.

In this type of scenario, the state can step in and appoint a reputable, qualified guardian and conservator to act on behalf of the older person. The court appoints a guardian and conservator who is granted the power to deal with financial issues as well as to make decisions for the benefit of an individual not capable to acting on his or her own behalf.