Specialist care

Learning disability
Adult Social Care will usually try to arrange support for people with a learning disability to live in ordinary housing, perhaps sharing with people. However, there are also care homes that specialise in support for people with learning disabilities. A good home will provide opportunities to learn and maintain skills, and opportunities to take part in enjoyable and stimulating activities. Social workers and community nurses from Northumbria Healthcare who specialise in learning disability are able to give information to enable people to make the right choices for themselves.

For some people with dementia who are no longer able to stay in their own homes, moving to a care home can help to maintain and improve their quality of life. People with dementia should be able to live in a care home that offers quality personal care and person-centred care. Some care homes offer specialist units with experienced staff and facilities adapted to the needs of residents with dementia.

People with dementia can benefit from a range of group or individual therapies. Most people benefit from social interaction and mental stimulation. Activity coordinators and occupational therapists can provide people with reality orientation, reminiscence and validation therapy. Music, art and other creative therapies can also be helpful. Behaviour management approaches that promote understanding of the behaviour of the person with dementia can also be helpful and trained staff can offer this service within many establishments.

Mental health
Most people with other mental health needs are able to live in ordinary housing with support, and care managers will always start by trying to find solutions which enable people to do so. But for a small number of people with complex needs, residential care may be able to help improve the quality of their life, perhaps as a short term arrangement. The structured environment and activities provided can build up confidence. The care providers should assess the person carefully to make sure the placement is right for the individual. A qualified member of the residential care staff may visit the person at home, talk to them and look at their assessments of health/social care need.

To find out more organise visits to prospective care homes. Ask residents about the care they receive. Are psychiatric nurses available if needed? Do the activities provided assist rehabilitation? What are the attitudes to medication and other therapies? How does the care home approach different types of challenging behaviour? Do the staff have close links with the Community Mental Health Team?