In this guide, we’ve covered everything you may want to consider when it comes to deciding whether your loved one living with dementia may be ready to move into a care home.
If you are a carer for a family member or friend with dementia, you may be looking toward the future and wondering at what point (if any) a care home may be suitable for a dementia patient.
When should someone living with dementia move into a care home?
If your loved one’s dementia diagnosis has become severe enough that they need more care than you are able to provide by yourself, it is time to consider a care home where they can receive 24hr care and stay safe.
You likely already know that dementia is a condition that requires more support as time goes on, so your loved one’s condition is only going to decline and their care needs increase. If you are already struggling, it is better to make the decision together now rather than risk your loved one’s safety or your own well-being.
Living at home with dementia
Many people with dementia remain living at home for some time, either with a carer from an agency providing care each day, or a family member providing unpaid care. However, it’s important to know that at some point, there may come a time when this arrangement is no longer feasible – and it’s you as the unpaid carer who will need to be aware of this.
Being an unpaid carer can be a huge toll on your daily life. You may have already reduced your working hours and provide full-time care to a loved one living with dementia.
There may come a time, however, when you can no longer keep your loved one safe. Sadly, dementia progressively worsens with time – and the person you care for may start to require 24hr care or you may feel that you aren’t capable of keeping up with the demands of caring for them.
At this time, a care home takes a huge amount of pressure off of you while also providing your loved one with professional care that keeps them safe. Then, you can enjoy the company of your loved one once again without the many challenges of also being their primary carer.
Who makes the decision?
Where possible, it is best that the person with dementia makes the final decision about going into a care home. This, of course, reduces stress all round and makes the person who would be living in the care home feel like their voice is considered. Someone living with dementia can often feel out of control, so giving them choices in this decision can be crucial to making this transition easier on everyone.
However, in some cases, the person with dementia may no longer have the mental capacity to make such a decision, in which case being assigned Lasting Power of Attorney, or LPA, will enable you to make decisions on their behalf.
This can be an incredibly stressful and emotional time for everyone involved, so it’s important not to rush your decision. Try and broach the conversation with your loved one calmly and with plenty of notice, so that this big change can be accepted and seen positively by everyone involved.
Care home costs
Your local council will be responsible for advising you whether your loved one can fund their care home stay themselves (self-fund), or whether the local authority or NHS will provide assistance with the financial arrangements.
You should note that specialist dementia care homes can be more expensive than residential care homes because of the additional training needed, 24hr care, and specialist facilities. Many people opt to have an assessment done to determine that the loved one living with dementia has a primary health need, which means the NHS funds the care.
Benefits of dementia care homes
There are many benefits for a dementia patient living in a care home. These include:
- 24-hour care and support from professional, trained staff
- Enhanced supervision to ensure your loved one stays safe
- Community aspect with plenty of opportunities for socialising with other people living with dementia
- Takes the pressure off of you so you can enjoy the time you spend with your loved one rather than worrying about being their carer
- Many care homes have dedicated dementia units
- Access to facilities such as sensory rooms, memory cafes etc designed specifically for dementia patients
Choosing the right care home for dementia patients
The UK is home to many excellent care homes that have specialist units for people with dementia, so you should take comfort that there are many fantastic choices for your loved one to continue living their life to the full under specialist care.
You’ll need to request a needs assessment from your local authority, which will establish the type of care your loved one requires. The assessment will recommend the type and level of care required, and provide more details on the financial aspect of moving to a care home.
If possible, the care home may invite your loved one (and you) to visit the facility for a tour. If this is not feasible, the staff may visit your loved one at home or in hospital. Make sure you chat with the care home manager, staff, and residents to get a feel for the place and affirm whether this seems like the right choice for your loved one.
Again, the decision should be made by the person who will be living in the home if possible. Make sure you look out for the types of activities on offer, living arrangements, facilities on offer etc.