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How to choose a care home for someone with dementia

PUBLISHED: 11:22 08 June 2018 | UPDATED: 10:45 01 August 2018

Foxearth Lodge Nursing Home. Picture: Hayley Cantrell

Foxearth Lodge Nursing Home. Picture: Hayley Cantrell

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Searching for a care home for a loved one with dementia can be a difficult take, so ensure you know what to look for when choosing.

Residents enjoying the garden at Foxearth Lodge Nursing Home. Picture: Hayley CantrellResidents enjoying the garden at Foxearth Lodge Nursing Home. Picture: Hayley Cantrell

Deciding on whether to move a loved one into a care home can be enormously difficult decision, both for the person with dementia and for their family. However, as the dementia progresses it can become challenging for a family member to care for them alone meaning that the care and support residential nursing homes offer often makes them the most appropriate option.

Good quality care that preserves dignity, treats people with respect and promotes independence will significantly improve the lives of care home residents with dementia. Therefore finding a nursing home that does this is imperative.

Hayley Cantrell, manager of Foxearth Lodge Nursing Home which has been providing elderly care to those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease for 35 years, says: “If you are no longer able to care for your loved one at home, you may take the decision to start looking at suitable care homes. This can be an extremely stressful and challenging time for all concerned, so it’s natural that you will be feeling emotional, but for the safety and well-being of your loved one, you’ll know deep down that it’s the right choice.

“Care homes can offer a great deal to residents, from meeting their social, emotional and physical needs, through to individual care, which all allow residents to have a better quality of life whether you need support with dementia or general nursing.”

Expert dementia care is one of the many available services at Foxearth Lodge Nursing Home. Picture: Hayley CantrellExpert dementia care is one of the many available services at Foxearth Lodge Nursing Home. Picture: Hayley Cantrell

How to choose a dementia care home

When looking for long term care facilities for your loved one, you’re likely to find many local nursing homes, but how do you know which is best?

The best assisted living facilities will follow the principles of person-centred care. This approach aims to see the resident with dementia as an individual, rather than focusing on their illness or on abilities they may have lost. Person-centred care takes into account each individual’s qualities, abilities, interests, preferences and needs.

“All residents in a care home should receive person centred care,” adds Hayley. “Upon admission to a care home a preadmission assessment will be carried out to identify the needs of that individual and allow the staff in the home to make sure all the correct equipment is used and their room is safe for them.

Residents at Foxearth Lodge Nursing Home. Picture: Hayley CantrellResidents at Foxearth Lodge Nursing Home. Picture: Hayley Cantrell

“All staff will be fully trained in caring for an individual based on their needs and all patients will have a keyworker - the keyworker will soon know their patient inside out.”

When trying to find a care home, you should spend some time looking around multiple nursing homes, talking to the person in charge, as well as the other staff and residents there. First impressions are often an important clue as to how retirement homes are run, but the best indication of a good home is that the residents appear happy and responsive.

“When you start the search for the right home visit as many homes as possible. The more information you can obtain in visiting homes the easier it is to make a decision of which one is the right one.

“Generally most visitors would have a feeling when they walk into somewhere for the first time as to whether it feels right. Does it smell? Are the staff friendly? How many patients live there? How many staff are on duty?”

Foxearth Lodge Nursing Home. Picture: Hayley CantrellFoxearth Lodge Nursing Home. Picture: Hayley Cantrell

Other areas to consider include the home’s location, security and safety. Elderly residential homes are regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The NHS says: “If you are considering a particular residential care home, check the most recent inspection report on the CQC website to see how well the care home is doing and if there is anything of concern.”

As well as talking to social services, the NHS also recommends you talk to your GP, district nurse, palliative care team or consultant to find out what is available in your area. A care home search can be tough, but knowing your loved one is being cared for in a skilled nursing facility by trained staff is second to none.

“There is a lot to think about and I recommend writing things down, prepare a list of questions before you go, but above all, look at the environment. Do the patients look happy and well cared for and do the staff look happy? When you feel that all those questions can be answered positively you know you have found the right place.”

How does respite care work?

As well as full time nursing care, care homes can also offer respite care for elderly individuals. This type of care is short term and acts as a temporary relief for an older person’s usual carer, and includes access to day centres, homecare services and short residential stays. Respite care can be a beneficial service for those who require a little extra help looking after a loved one with dementia.

Assisted living is also another residential care option, however is less likely to be a suitable solution for an individual with dementia. For other elderly individuals however, an assisted living facility can offer help and support without fully giving up on living independently.

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