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We care to make a difference

Guide to selecting the right dementia care home

Selecting a home for you or your loved one is a very difficult decision and, to complicate matters, many people are not sure how to evaluate whether a home will meet their specific needs. To assist you with your decision, we have prepared this guide to use while visiting various homes.

What type of home should I look for?

There are two schools of thought: whether to place a person, living with dementia in a specialist home where all Residents have dementia or in a home providing care for older people, some living with dementia and some not.

It has been our experience, that Residents who live with dementia feel less frustrated, less agitated and more content living in a specialised dementia home designed with prompts and a dementia friendly environment.

Some suggestions for what to look for on your tours...

THE RESIDENCE

  • Is the home safe and secure?
  • Are the Residents allowed to explore everywhere freely?
  • Are there specific designated areas for walking and purposeful activity?
  • Is it attractive, clean and easy to get around?
  • Are there thoughtful prompts in place to decrease confusion and encourage way-finding such as colour coding, clear signage with both pictures and words, adequate lighting, or an uncluttered environment?
  • Is there a passenger lift?
  • Are the rooms thoughtfully decorated and furnished?
  • Does the room have a generous-sized window?
  • Are you encouraged to bring personal items such as furniture, pictures, etc?
  • Is there a garden and is it easy to get around?
  • Is there an absence of odour throughout the home?
  • Does the home have a nice ambiance?
  • Are there different areas for Residents to spend time in (quiet area, TV area, outdoors etc.?

THE CARE

  • What effort is made to get to know the Resident?
  • What special pre-admission contact does the home make?
  • What special arrangements do they make for moving in and to settling the Resident in?
  • How much one-on-one time do they provide for the Resident?
  • Is there a calm and relaxed atmosphere?
  • On your visit, did you interact with Residents who are already living there or did staff try and restrain them from approaching you?
  • Did Residents seem content and engaged or did they seem medicated?
  • How do Staff handle situations where Residents have tried to dress themselves and the clothing is inside out or stained?
  • How do staff say they respond to behaviours resulting from dementia such as:
  • Aggression (physical and verbal)
  • Calling out continually
  • Emotional fluctuations
  • Hoarding
  • Resistance
  • Wandering or pacing
  • Agitation
  • Delusions/false beliefs
  • Forgetfulness
  • Screaming
  • Sun-downing
  • Inappropriate and/or sexual behaviour
  • Anxious behaviour
  • Repetitive verbalisation
  • Hallucinations
  • Shadowing
  • Hiding possessions
  • Wanting to 'go home', 'go out'
  • Are there specific activities designed for Residents with dementia?
  • Is there an individualised music programme for each Resident?
  • How does the staff approach bathing time?
  • Is assistance available during meal times in a dignified, unhurried manner?
  • Is there a full-time housekeeper available to clean up 'accidents'?
  • Are Residents appropriately dressed?
  • Are they well groomed?
  • Is their hair styled and clothing clean?
  • Are staff available 24 hours a day?
  • What happens when a Resident gets their day and night flipped around?
  • How often does the home have Resident, family and advocate meetings?
  • How are Residents' opinions and concerns voiced?
  • Does the Management have an open attitude to suggestions?
  • Are there opportunities to provide feedback about the care?
  • Are there activities offered in the evening between 4pm and 7pm? On weekends? How can you check that these activities actually happen?
  • What is the home's medication policy and is medication used to ‘manage’ behaviours instead of TLC and thoughtful interventions?

THE STAFF

  • Did staff smile and greet you during your visit?
  • Are staff patient and understanding with Resident's requests?
  • Do you feel that the staff have a genuine concern for the Resident's wellbeing?
  • Are staff attentive?
  • Are staff neat, clean and professionally dressed?
  • Do the staff appear organised?
  • What kind of training is available to staff?
  • How are staff encouraged to attend training?

SOCIAL and RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES

  • What social, recreational and purposeful activities are available?
  • Does the home have a printed schedule and a way that you can check an activity took place?
  • Do Residents have the freedom to choose whether they would like to participate?
  • Are there any outings?
  • Is there a minibus for outings? Does it have wheelchair access?
  • What activities are offered after 4pm? On weekends?

MEALS

  • Is there a selective menu?
  • Are snacks offered between meals?
  • Does the home offer comfort rounds every two hours to prevent dehydration?
  • Does the dining room offer napkins, dementia friendly crockery and cutlery?
  • Do the Residents evaluate their meals?
  • Do the staff eat the same food?
  • Do the staff make an event of meal-time?
  • Does the home offer specialised diets like finger foods, soft foods, pureed food? How is it served?
  • What do staff do if a Resident complains that they have not been given any food to eat?

FINANCIAL

  • Do you have answers to all your financial questions?
     

INSPECTION REPORT

  • Did the home show you its latest inspection report?
  • Have all the standards been met?

Inspection reports can be obtained by downloading from the Care Quality Commission website or by calling 03000 616 161.