How to care for someone with dementia: is a care home the right place for them?
- Credit: Dave Pratt Photography
Joshua Slator, director of Osborne Care Homes, discusses the effects of dementia and the importance of specialist, quality care.
What is dementia?
Dementia is a combined term for the symptoms experienced by an individual whose brain is affected by diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Vascular or Lewy body dementia. Our staff are trained to understand the different forms of dementia and how the symptoms present themselves for each resident.
How does dementia affect a person’s mental health?
A person with dementia – especially those at a more advanced stage – can experience frustration, loneliness and isolation. Our wellbeing programmes are designed with positive mental health in mind. Meaningful activities based on everyday living, such as cooking or gardening can have such a positive effect. Music can also be of benefit. We regularly organise live music performances, silent disco events and sing-a-long sessions. Other activities to support mental health can be more serene - centred around art, reading, reminiscence therapy, and sensory items and toys to aid stimulation.
Can dementia be detrimental to physical health too?
Absolutely. Physical exercise has huge benefits for people with dementia. It can help develop greater social interactions, improve mood, prevent muscle weakness, and avert mobility issues. Our specialist instructor conducts regular chair yoga sessions, and we organise trips to the local gym, swimming pool and the seaside. Even a short walk around our garden or courtyard can aid mobility and facilitate conversation.
What kind of dementia care do you offer?
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We support individuals at all stages along a dementia journey, where independent living is no longer possible. We are here when the needs of an individual cannot be best supported in their daily life, typically during the moderate or more advanced stages of dementia.
When should someone with dementia move into a care home?
It’s hard to know when to move someone into a care home. Usually, the choice comes at a time when your loved one is finding it increasingly difficult to live at home, even with support from professional carers, family and friends. Dementia can affect the way you remember, feel, behave and communicate, and dealing with this may cause agitation. The question to ask is ‘what is in the best interests of that person?’ If you are struggling to meet the everyday needs of your loved one, then a care home can provide a secure environment with fully-trained staff on hand to offer care and assistance when needed.
How do you meet the complex needs of those suffering from dementia?
Our staff undergo specialist dementia training to understand how to support our residents which includes techniques designed to reduce anxiety and stress and provide reassurance. Our full-time wellbeing co-ordinators ensure activities cater to all interests and abilities and have a far-reaching positive effect on the mind and the body.
Our central ethos is based around allowing choice and promoting independence. We assign a key worker to each resident to get to know everything about them so that we can best understand how to meet their needs and wishes. It is vital our care services fit in with the individual’s routines, all of which are documented on our digital care planning system that can be always accessed by our care team. The homes are designed in such a way that the range of activities on offer are set up in a number of our lounges, allowing individuals the freedom to choose what they want to do each day.
Technology is central to improving the wellbeing of dementia residents when used effectively. For example, our adaptive acoustic technology at Osborne House monitors sleep patterns throughout the night, alerting staff when residents wake up or need assistance. This reduces unnecessary night time checks and helps prevent falls. Another example is our Tovertafel interactive magic table, a game device that connects older people on their dementia journey with each other and their surroundings through infrared technology.