Dementia Care Homes

In the US, an estimated 75 percent of people living in care homes have some level of dementia – and these figures are rising.  But according to government reports, not all residents in dementia care homes are currently receiving the most appropriate care for their individual needs. Worst instances include poorly trained staff regularly administering sedatives and anti-psychotic drugs to calm individuals exhibiting the types of “disruptive” behavior associated with the various forms of dementia; more common examples are linked to sheer ignorance and lack of experience among staff caring for people with dementia.

Those with relatives and loved ones suffering in any of the many dementia care homes should take heart from a number of recent reports on how the quality of care for people with dementia living in care homes has and can be further improved. Recommendations are focused on the implementation of a number of practical, mainly low-budget measures, which could make a huge difference to the health and happiness of those living in dementia care homes.

Interestingly, where dementia care in care homes was falling short of the mark was attributed to several other important factors shown to play an important role in determining the quality of care received by those suffering from dementia. For example, greater user consultation, on-the-job staff training, more effective staff management as well as better care home design were all identified as practical issues that could have a huge impact on improving the quality of care offered to residents with dementia.

In other words, many of the practical recommendations put forward in recent studies were often only indirectly budget-linked and could largely be achieved through an honest review and assessment of current practice. Even the important issue of purpose-design, identified in one of these studies, need not prove more costly than an ill-conceived care home design that does not cater adequately for people with dementia.  In the wake of the latest reviews, a number of practical, workable and achievable recommendations have been made, including:

– appointing highly trained care home managers with direct experience of and a commitment to providing person-centered dementia care and who will lead by example, recognizing that dementia care is particularly demanding, yet rewarding;

– ensuring that that the care home has a readily available written policy on handling people with dementia and that the policy is reviewed and updated regularly;

– maintaining effective multidisciplinary links with all relevant health services, social care services and community

– Local authorities and independent care providers working together to develop specialist dementia care places, with provider organizations setting up specialist dementia care homes or units within homes;

– improving staff knowledge of the symptoms of dementia and offering on-going, hands-on training, at all staff levels;

– consulting users and relatives, involving residents with dementia wherever possible in order to influence care practice and the management of the care home;

– management and staff making no glib assumptions that are supposedly in the “best interests” of residents with dementia;

– adapting care home design and environment to improve quality of life for residents with dementia, e.g. good signage with orientating and “cueing” features such as well-lit areas, clearly marked entrances to day rooms, familiar features, inviting and homely style;

– increasing staff awareness that people with dementia are vulnerable and open to abuse and may respond aggressively if they suspect that they are being treated differently;

– minimizing “difficult” behavior by truly attempting to understand the individual with dementia;

– maintaining residents’ links with their local community, as far as possible;

– fostering social inclusion and encouraging residents with dementia to become involved in stimulating group activities, within their capacity;

– facilitating suitable everyday activities, e.g. helping with the washing up or doing some light gardening;

Dementia care homes provide services that support the physical and psychosocial needs of the elderly and other individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia.  Know that the overall objective of dementia care facilities is to care for seniors by keeping the participants as healthy and active as possible, and by helping them maintain their highest level of functioning and to improve the quality of their lives while providing respite to caregivers.

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