Around 50 million people worldwide and 850,000 in the UK live with Alzheimer’s disease, and this is set to increase as a result of an aging population. Our understanding of the disease and how we can minimise its progress is crucial so that we can help loved ones who may be suffering.
Good dementia care recognises the personal history and character of the individual, and this has been shown to have a positive impact on the progress of the disease.
So what does excellent dementia care look like? For anyone coming to this for the first time, it can seem like a minefield. So to help, here are five things things that I suggest to look out for.
1. Is person-centred care at the heart of the care home’s philosophy? This approach aims to see the person with dementia as an individual, rather than focusing on their illness or abilities they may have lost. Ask to see their written philosophy and ask specific questions to see if it’s put into practice.
2. Ensure the individual will continue to be included in plans and decisions about their care. Their likes and dislikes should always be taken into account and if the person can do certain things for themselves, they should be encouraged to do so.
3. Make sure detailed care plans are in place for each individual. This should cover everything from cultural or religious beliefs to medical needs. It should even cover how the person likes to be addressed, by first name or more formally.
4. Think about the specific interests and habits of your loved one and find out if the care home can support these activities. This could range from favourite radio or TV programmes to games they like to play or what day they like to do their shopping.
5. Assess the physical environment. Does it feel welcoming and homely? Are residents able to make their rooms feel like home by having photos and other personal items on display? Look out for signs that residents are welcome to get involved in the community of the home, such as dusting or folding towels. Check there is good access to the outdoors and whether outings take place.
When you visit a home, don’t be afraid to ask questions and go armed with a checklist of things you want to find out. Remember, the best indication of a good home is that the residents appear happy and responsive and that individuals are always treated with dignity and respect.
Read more: How businesses can address dementia