Choosing a care home with specialist services for dementia

By: Dzhingarov

One in five people over the age of 80 will experience the symptoms of dementia. If a member of your family or someone you care about is experiencing dementia it can be a distressing time. Taking the decision of seeking a specialist care home that can help improve the quality of life for dementia patients and relieve the burden of care from family can be a liberating step. However the key to a successful move into residential care such as Assured Assisted Living is finding the right home that can offer appropriate levels of care.

Care homes and dementia:

Care homes that have purpose built facilities for people with dementia can help improve their quality of life by making the residential care home as close a facsimile as possible to their previous life. These care homes should be homey and comfortable rather than bland and clinical. There should be the opportunity to continue on with hobbies and interests for example arts, crafts, knitting and baking or gardening.

The interior of homes like this care home have been designed specifically to meet the needs of dementia patients. Corridors are decorated with vibrant colours and pictures that help trigger memories so residents can easily locate where they are in the building. There are well-furnished, comfortable social areas where people can relax, entertain guests, watch television or read. There are also important extras like a hair salon on-site. Having your hair and nails done feels great at any age and can really lift the spirits of the residents and of course is a fun way to socialise and chat.

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dementia care home
Bob Jones [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Care homes with a special focus on dementia will also include things like sensory gardens which are designed to enhance the experience of being outside through the use of colours, aromas, sounds and textures. Gardening has been highlighted as a great therapy for dementia patients and there should be a garden club area where residents can meet, socialise and re-connect with nature. When looking at a care home’s garden check there are no steep sloping areas, plants with thorns or poisonous berries or unstable paving slabs. Also it should be easy to access and have seats in shaded locations. Basically it should be safe and appealing for everyone to use and as a bonus if there are play sets for children this is a great way to help normalise visits for younger relatives.

Another great innovation to help people with dementia in care homes are night owl clubs. Residents who are awake and active at night are able to take part in activities and have access to food despite the late hour. A really good care home will take a person-centred approach to everything they do. Individuals will be treated with respect and dignity and carers will take the time to get to know people, their life history and make connections with their friends and relatives. The result of this is residents who are able to enjoy as much independence coupled with leading full lives with appropriate mental and physical stimulation.

The cost of dementia care can vary depending on the level of care and of course the duration of the stay. There may be charges for 24-hour care, laundry, activities and therapy, home cooked food and private bedrooms. Any home should be able to give you a transparent list of these charges up front. Make sure you have an in-depth conversation about costs before committing to anything. Your choice of home must tally up with the right location, level of care and affordability.

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What do you think makes a great care environment for someone with dementia?