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Advice on moving into a care home with Dementia

Caring couple

People with dementia move in to care homes for many reasons; their needs might have increased as their dementia has progressed, or it might be because a family member may no longer be able to support them. Whatever the reason, moving into a care home can be a difficult time for everyone involved – not only with the practical arrangements but also emotionally too.

Residential care can sometimes be the only option for someone with dementia particularly when 24-hour supervision is needed or to ensure an improved quality of life and social contact.

Planning to go into a care home

Planning for any move is vital to ensure you have taken everything into consideration. But it is just as important to include the person themselves even though they might not have the mental capacity to make a final decision about their move. Their views are still important during the decision process.

We know that this time can bring much emotional angst to carers who have devoted years to care for their loved ones – and may need help themselves coping in the future. But, try to be positive about the move. Moving to a care home can have many benefits not least give you the respite you might need, and perhaps present a new caring opportunity where you can work in partnership with the care home.

Choosing the right care home

Choosing the right care home for your loved one can be daunting for families, but there are few things you and your carer can do to ease the uncertainty and make finding a care home a much easier challenge.

Age UK provides some great advice on what to look for when considering a care home. They have a detailed guide, which includes a check list of what you should think about when short listing and viewing care homes. They have also produced a video which will provide you with some guidance.

Make sure to check each care home’s Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection report to see in advance what they do well.

Choosing a care home for your loved one is a very personal thing, so take time to find out how the home is run on a daily basis. Make arrangements to visit the home and try and get a feel for how they care for their residents and see for yourself whether your relative would be happy there.

Consider things like:

Dementia care specialists

Some care homes specialise in caring for people with dementia and will promote this on their website and marketing material. Because dementia care requires a different level of support, make sure you assess how well they can achieve this.

Check how many carers have had training in dementia care and at what level. Talk to the staff who have dementia care experience, and if possible, talk to other families who have a relative with dementia in the care home about their experiences.

Most care homes will visit your relative at home, or in hospital, or invite them to view the care home before agreeing that they can meet their needs. It is important to make contact with a member of staff and give as much information as you can about your loved one with dementia. Here is your opportunity to give the carers a good insight into your loved ones daily habits, likes, dislikes but also a bit about their “life story” – all of this information will be useful to the staff to ensure your loved one settles in well.

If possible, aim to have the same member of staff available when the move actually takes place, providing a familiar and welcoming face. They can then share the tips of engagement with other staff.

Moving in day

When the day arrives for your loved one to move in, try and reduce their anxieties and think in advance about anything that might cause conflict, so you can avoid it.

Many families approach the issue of long-term care by arranging a short ‘respite’ stay in the home beforehand. If the care home do things right, it can sometimes only take a brief time to make the person feel safe and cared for in their new environment.

Make your relative’s/ friend’s room as homely as possible. Place pictures of their family and friends, and items like ornaments that they treasure around the room. If they have a favourite blanket or comforter make sure this is in their room as well. By making the room more like home it will help to sooth both you and them during this period of transition.

After arriving at the care home, it may be really hard to know when to leave. Discuss this with the staff and get their co-operation if it looks like it might be upsetting. The staff will be used to these situations so don’t worry about asking for help.

We have written a useful checklist for anyone considering moving into a care home – assisting you make the experience a positive one and give you peace of mind.

Support for you

There is no doubt that life for you will change when your loved one moves into a care home, so make sure you have some support from family and friends in the days, weeks and months that follow. Try and find activities where you are able to meet old and new friends.

And, it is okay to feel guilty! Many people say that they have these types of feelings for a while afterwards. Don’t hold onto these feelings, talk to your family and friends.

Every person with dementia will have a different way of coping with their move and the changes that go with it. Don’t forget the staff will be there to support you. Try and get to know them as they will be able to give advice and guidance as you build a care plan together.

Visiting frequently may be the best approach in the first few weeks whilst your loved one settles in and starts developing relationships with staff and other residents.

Dementia care at Friary Care, Weymouth

If you would like to arrange a visit or discuss your dementia care needs please call Peter Fry 01305 78 78 11.

See the Latest CQC report for Friary Care – Friary House and Kingsley Court, Weymouth