Dementia
NHS Choices

Care homes

A person with dementia will need more care and support as their symptoms get worse over time. This may mean that a move into a care home can better meet their needs.

If you have been helping someone live independently with dementia or are a carer, this can be a hard decision to make.

But it's important to remember that there can be many positive aspects to moving into a care home.

These include:

  • 24-hour support from care staff
  • knowing that the person with dementia is in a safe place
  • social activities with other residents

Deciding to move into a care home

Sometimes the person themselves can make the decision.  But the person with dementia often lacks the ability to decide (lacks mental capacity).

If you or someone else had a lasting power of atttorney, you can make the decision for the person with dementia, as long as it's in their best interests.

Try to talk to the person with dementia about their preference regaring care in a home, even if they lack the capacity to make a decision over what care home is best for them.

First steps: getting an assessment

The first step towards choosing a care home is to get a new needs assessment from social services.

If the assessment suggests a care home would be the best option, the next step is a financial assessment (means test).

The financial assessment will show if the council will pay towards the cost of a care home.

In most cases, the person with dementia will be expected to pay towards the cost.

Social services can also provide a list of care homes that should meet the needs identified during the assessment.

The different types of care home

There are 2 main types of care home:

  • residential care homes
  • nursing homes

Some care homes offer both residential and nursing care places.

Care homes can be run by private companies, voluntary or charitable organisations, or sometimes by local councils.

Residential homes

These provide personal care, such as help with:

  • washing
  • dressing
  • taking medicines
  • going to the toilet

Nursing homes

These provide personal care, as well as 24-hour care from qualified nurses.  These are sometimes called care homes with nursing.

Both types of care home should have staff trained in dementia care.

Tips on choosing a care home

One of the most important things to check when choosing a care home is the most recent Care Inspectorate Wales reports.

The CIW regulates all care homes in Wales.  Its inspection reports can show you how well a care home is doing and any areas of concern.

When visiting a care home, spend time looking around and talk to the manager and other staff and residents.

It's useful to take a friend or relative with you cas you can compare notes after you visit.

It's a good idea to make your own checklist before visiting care homes.  These tips may help.

Location

You may already know of a care home through personal recommendation or from social services.

Check the following:

  • Is there a care home near family and friends?
  • Are there good transport links there?
  • Are there shops, leisure facilities and cafe's nearby?

Facilities

It's a good idea to ask to see a couple of bedrooms, as long as current residents are happy with this.

Other things to ask about include:

  • Can residents have their own room, with space for their own furniture and possessions?
  • Are there enough toilets within easy reach of bedrooms and living space?
  • Is there a garden where residents can walk safely?
  • Are chairs arranged in groups in living areas to encourage socialising, rather than round the edge of the room?