Choosing a care home for someone with dementia

The word dementia describes a set of symptoms that may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language. Dementia can add complications to other conditions and can shorten life expectancy… but equally you could live with dementia for many years. During that time your dependency upon your carers will steadily increase.
 
According to the Alzheimer’s Society*, less than half of people living with dementia in the UK have a diagnosis. If your relative needs to be placed in a care setting, and you think they may have the condition but they have not been diagnosed, do ensure that they are properly examined as the level and type of care they receive may depend upon this.
 
When choosing a care home, do make sure that they have staff trained to give those with dementia the specialist help they need, and that the home is designed to provide the best possible environment for them.

Ideally:

  • Staff need to understand how to talk to the resident, to respect their dignity and to stay calm should a resident become confused, angry or aggressive.
  • There should be a range of regular activities to stimulate patients’ minds and memories – including some physical ones if appropriate, such as light gardening. “Music for the brain” sessions and “memory boxes” can also be very helpful.
  • The care setting itself should be specially designed and decorated. Because the condition can affect the way a person ‘sees the world’, colours should be warm and strong, but not harsh, and have sufficient contrast to delineate floors, walls and doors. Lighting should avoid glare and shadows. Patterns and ‘speckled’ designs can confuse – especially on floors. There should be plenty of ‘navigation aids’ to guide the way – with clear signs on the doors.

Good quality dementia care will almost inevitably involve higher costs – and possibly for an extended period.
 
Getting expert advice on what financial support you may or may not be entitled to is critical when planning for future care needs. Click here to find a specialist care fees adviser.
 
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Elderly Accommodation Counsel (EAC) websites are excellent places to search for homes locally that are registered to care for those with dementia – and to check the quality of care provided.

*www.alzheimers.org.uk/statistics