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Dementia and the NHS: A Guide to Care Homes

It goes without saying that transferring the care of a loved one suffering from dementia to a strange environment can be a very traumatic experience. Nevertheless, as the symptoms of dementia tend to worsen over time, a care home may be the ideal solution as the staff there will be able to provide better care and support. There are several reasons why moving a dementia patient into a care home could be beneficial, including: ● Support staff are always available ● You can rest assured that your loved one is in a secure and caring environment ● There will be social activities involving both staff and other residents

Moving into a care home – who makes the decision? In all likelihood, an individual with dementia will have diminished mental capacity and will therefore be unable to make any rational decisions. For this reason, you or someone with a power of attorney must make the important decisions on their behalf. Nevertheless, despite the patient’s lack of capacity, you still need to ask whether they have any preferences in relation to the choice of care home. Assessment is a prerequisite before moving in Before choosing a care home, you need to obtain a new needs assessment from your local authority’s social services department. If this assessment supports admittance to a care home, you can then proceed to the financial assessment. If the patient qualifies for financial assistance, the local council may contribute towards the costs. However, a person with dementia is often expected to pay for home care. You can also ask social services to provide you with a list of care homes that would be able to accommodate the specific needs of your loved one.

The different types of care home There are two types of care home. 1. Residential care homes The staff working in these facilities will provide personal care, including the following: ● Escorting residents to the bathroom/toilet ● Washing, bathing and dressing residents ● Administering medicine 2. Nursing homes Nursing homes usually employ qualified nurses who, as well as providing personal care, will also offer 24-hour care. Some care homes provide both residential and nursing care. These facilities are often operated by one of the following types of organisation: ● Private companies ● Charitable or voluntary groups ● Local councils Regardless of the type, all care homes should employ staff who have been trained in dementia care.

How to choose a suitable care home When choosing a suitable care home for your loved one, you need to make sure you read the very latest Care Quality Commission (CQC) report. The CQC is an organisation that evaluates the quality of care homes in England. They assess how care homes are performing and whether there are any concerns that need addressing.

It is a good idea to draw up a checklist to compare the care homes you are considering.


Here is some guidance that will help you in this regard. 1. Location ● Is the home located near to you, your family and your friends? ● Are there good transport links? ● Are there any cafes and shops nearby? 2. Amenities and services ● Do the residents have their own room and are they allowed to keep their possessions? ● Are the toilets within easy reach of the rooms? ● Are the home’s gardens and parks safe for walking? ● What does the care home do to encourage socialisation? ● Does the home respect residents’ religious and cultural needs? 3. Care home staff ● Are the staff well-trained in dementia care? ● Do they show an interest in caring for the residents? ● Do they have regular meetings with relatives and do they organise dementia-friendly activities? ● Are they accredited to offer end-of-life care? 4. Residents ● Are the residents treated well and do they have access to community healthcare services? ● Can they receive visitors at any time? ● Do they participate in regular meetings?

Conclusion A person with dementia often has complex healthcare needs. For this reason, if the time has come when they need to be admitted into a care home, the suitability of the home should be assessed carefully. From a financial perspective, it is advisable to check to see whether the local council or the NHS will shoulder any of the costs. Finally, it is important to evaluate the home’s location, staff and residents to determine whether your loved one will be comfortable in this new environment.


Matt Farrah

Nurses.co.uk CEO

Helping healthcare organisations attract and retain the best staff so they can deliver great patient care. Supporting the people who care to do the job they've chosen.

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