Written by Active Minds on Friday the 25th of August 2017.
With the number of people diagnosed with dementia estimated to rise to over 1 million by 2025, the demand for dementia focused care homes will only increase. In fact, it is currently estimated that 70% of people in care homes have dementia or severe memory problems. But, with demand high, and spaces at a premium, it’s important that when it comes to finding the right place for your loved one, you don’t rush your decision and instead, make the right choice for them. However, for many of us, our first visit to look around a care home is the first time we’ve ever stepped foot in to that type of environment. It can be overwhelming, and difficult to understand what you should be looking for when picking the right home for your loved one.
Obviously, as you begin to look around places you will instinctively start to get a feel for what you like and don’t like; the décor, the general atmosphere and environment. Here are 5 things to think about to help make your decision a little bit easier:
A great indication of a care home is to observe the current residents. Do they seem engaged, chatty, interested? Do they seem well looked after, i.e. are they well dressed, groomed etc? Also, if you can, try and see how the staff interact with the residents, do they seem comfortable, kind, attentive? Are the residents encouraged to do as much as they can for themselves?
When looking at the bedrooms observe their décor and cleanliness. Are they bright and pleasant to spend time in? Are residents allowed to make the room their own by bringing in their own furniture and possessions, like family photos? This will help a person with dementia feel comfortable, and help spark and maintain memories. Also, is there privacy for the residents, e.g. do staff knock before entering the room?
During your visit you may not be able to observe any specific activities in progress, but ask to look at their activity timetable, and if possible, speak to the residents about the activities they enjoy the most. Are they suitable and engaging for people with dementia? Are residents encouraged to exercise? Are there daily activities (it’s important that residents aren’t left to just watch TV all day)? And are they encouraged to choose what they would like to do, as not all activities suit everyone.
Diet is incredibly important for a person living with dementia. The food on offer should be healthy and high in nutrients and vitamins. People with dementia may struggle with chewing or swallowing so ensure that the care home can provide suitable food. Are they able to adjust the food and timetables to an individual residents’ needs? For example, for some people living with dementia they may not be able to digest large plates of food, so prefer smaller, more regular meals.
Care homes should have a number of processes in place should a resident fall ill. Is there a doctor that visits the home? Does the home have access to other health care professionals such as a mental health team, opticians, chiropodists? How does the home deal with residents’ medication? A person with dementia may struggle to remember to take their medicine, or accidentally take too much – how does the care home supervise this? And if new medication is prescribed by a professional, does the care home keep you informed of any changes?