Looking after someone who has dementia can be extremely challenging. As much as someone may wish to keep their loved one at home for as long as possible, there often comes a time when this is no longer possible. This can be for reasons of safety, practicality or medical expertise. Dementia care can be complex, so it calls for highly trained professionals. It can be very hard to work out when it is time to move from being looked after at home to entering into a dementia care home.
Dementia Care In Your Own Home
If you are providing dementia care in your own home, it is important that you are supported as much as possible. The person’s GP may be able to point you in the direction of networks and help, or the older people’s charity Age UK has several resources online. It is normal to feel tired, anxious or sad about the situation, so you mustn’t feel guilty about asking for help. After all, the stronger you feel, the better you will be able to support your loved one with dementia.
Other avenues of support could include local carers’ groups, dementia advisors or respite residential care. Each of these can help give you a break, as well as advise on other aspects such as funding, dietary needs and medical care. They can also help you decide on the very difficult question of when it becomes time to move the person into residential care.
When is it The Right Time to Choose Dementia Care Home?
As with any healthcare decisions, the answer to the question of when to seek residential dementia care home will depend entirely on the individual circumstances. Perhaps the existing home support network is no longer working. The person’s dementia may have worsened or they may no longer feel safe in their own home environment. Sometimes, the main carer may no longer feel able to cope without specialist residential support.
Whatever the case, it is a decision that should be taken with all relevant people involved, including healthcare professionals and social workers where present. The decision is often very emotional and difficult, so it is important to have a safe space in which to discuss what will happen and to explore all the options.
It could be that the person themselves is able to participate in the final decision. However, if they lack decision-making capacity, then a lasting power of attorney (LPA) or advance care plan (ACP) will come into force if they have been put in place. These are legally binding documents that lay out what a person want to happen to them in terms of future healthcare arrangements, finances, property etc. If they are not able to decide for themselves later on. Knowing that you are carrying out the person with dementia’s express wishes can make the decision a lot easier.
Types of Dementia Care Home
There are different types of dementia care homes that cater for varying levels and aspects of the condition. There are more details about specialist dementia care facilities on the Care Quality Commission’s website. Here, you can also read lists of residential care homes for each UK geographical region and reports on their standards of care. The main dementia care facility categories are:
1. Residential Care Home
Suitable for lower levels of care. Some residential care homes cater for living support only, while others have dementia specialists available for more complex needs.
2. Nursing Home
This is better suited to people requiring more complex physical healthcare. People who are finding it harder to cope with their dementia or who have multiple healthcare and residential support needs.
3· Dementia Specialist Nursing Home:
As the name would suggest, this is for people with more advanced forms of dementia who require expert nursing care and more specialist residential support.
How to Choose a Good Dementia Care Home
Choosing the right dementia care home is also a highly individual process. Each person will look for different things – location, size, nursing care, additional facilities etc. There will also be financial considerations to bear in mind and how funding will be secured. Ask your healthcare professional, social worker or local authority for recommendations to get you started. Speak to friends and family for their ‘word of mouth’ suggestions.
Take your time looking round dementia care homes and ask plenty of questions. Try to get a feel for how the care home operates. Do the residents seem happy and safe? Does it smell clean and welcoming? Are there admiral nurse ? Is it warm enough, but not excessively hot? Other questions to ask on your tour could include:
· Can residents participate in hobbies and activities?
· Is there access to TV, radio, books and board games?
· Can people bring items from home?
· What are the rooms like?
· What laundry facilities are there?
· Is there an outside area?
· What therapies are on offer?
· What is the procedure when a resident needs hospital attention?
· When can visitors come and how often? Is visiting time flexible?
· How are dietary needs catered for?
Listen carefully to how your questions are answered and pay attention to how staff interact with residents. This will tell you a lot about how caring the environment really is. You can read more about how to manage moving into dementia care home via the Dementia Care UK and Alzheimer’s Society website