Dementia in care homes

Care homes and dementia

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, one third of people with dementia live in a care home and at least two thirds of care home residents in the UK have dementia.

Each person with dementia is a unique human being with individual emotional, physical and social needs and a set of hopes, aspirations and values. Meeting these needs with an individually tailored programme enables the person to experience the best possible quality of life. Subsequently, a good care home will follow the concept of a person centred approach to care for people with dementia. This means that the unique qualities and interests of each individual will be identified, understood and accounted for in any care planning.

The person with dementia will have an assessment and an on-going personalised care plan, agreed across health and social care that identifies a named care coordinator and addresses their individual needs.

They must also have the opportunity to discuss and make decisions, together with their carers, about the use of advance statements, advance decisions to refuse treatment, Lasting Power
of Attorney and Preferred Priorities of Care. For more information on these see page 61.

It is important that care and support options are tailored to the needs of the individual. One size does not fit all. Some options can work well for one individual but prove to be stressful and unsuitable for another person. Make sure staff know the person you care for by providing life story books; telling staff about their likes and dislikes and providing belongings that bring comfort and have meaning for the person you care for.

Within the home, much is down to the attitude and skills of the manager and the staff. Do
they provide an environment that enables a person with dementia to exercise choice and
personal preferences even in the later stages of the condition? Who is the person in charge of
championing dementia care best practice in the home? Further questions to consider are included in the residential dementia care checklist on page 58.

Dementia-specific training is essential to ensure that care home staff have an understanding of
how best to support and care for people with dementia.

Design and technology

The design of a care home specialising in dementia needs to be based on small group living, preferably with accommodation at ground floor level only and with good access in and out of the building within a safe environment.

Plenty of natural light and an easy way of finding one’s way around the building and grounds are essential for minimising disorientation for residents.