It’s a tough question, loaded with emotion, heartbreak and loss, but at some point you’ll probably find yourself wondering ‘when should someone with dementia go into a care home?’
Dementia is progressive. But it’s not always predictable. What is predictable is that, unfortunately, as time goes on you can expect your loved one with dementia to gradually need more care. However, knowing when is the right time for a care home is extremely variable and dependent on various different factors. There’s no single way of saying when the time is right. It’s about identifying when the right time is for this individual and their family.
To understand when the right timing may be, it’s essential to first understand why a care home may be required. If you don’t understand this, it’s much harder to decide when to make the move.
Fundamentally, a care home can make things both safer and easier for both the individual dementia patient and their family. A dedicated dementia care home, like three of our Eastleigh homes, is specifically designed to meet the individual needs of those with dementia. Meeting their needs is central to daily life in a care home. It isn’t something that has to be fitted in around other responsibilities or within a home environment that isn’t set up for dementia care.
From dementia-friendly furniture and lighting through to professional and experienced carers, on hand around the clock, a dementia care home offers security, comfort and peace of mind in a way that providing care at home can’t.
However, we still understand that making the decision to move a loved one into a dementia care home is still extremely difficult. You may be facing resistance from the individual, or even from your own core beliefs. It can bring up a sense of loss, in many ways seeing something which so starkly underpins the degenerative nature of the disease. You may be feeling exhausted as a carer but unable to see the wood for the trees. We don’t underestimate how difficult this time can be for families.
In reality, we know that once the decision is made, there is often immense relief and life for everyone gets easier and more contented once more.
The first obstacle is being clear about who has responsibility for this decision. In the vast majority of cases, the decision to move the individual to a care home happens, understandably, after the individual is no longer able to make the decision. Their mental capacity for making the decision on their own behalf is no longer there. They could require help making the decision, be resistant to it, or not be able to at all. This is the nature of the beast, but it makes it very difficult for loved ones.
With the individual unable to make the decision, the question is ‘who should?’ If the individual already has a power of attorney, this will be them. Alternatively, if they have a welfare deputy appointed, then this person is in the position to make the decision. This decision should be made in the best interests of the individual. If, as a loved one, you feel that the right decision isn’t being made, you do have the legal right to challenge this.
It’s not unusual for the individual with dementia not to have someone in the legal role of deputy or attorney. This can make the situation a little more complicated, but overall the decision should be a collaborative decision between close loved ones and all health and social care professionals that are involved in the care of the individual. Ultimately, health and social care professionals are usually best placed to make the final call because of their experience and impartiality. But again, loved ones can challenge this if they believe it’s in the individual’s best interests for there to be a different outcome.
Indeed, it’s what is in the best interests of the individual which should sit at the heart of when someone with dementia should go into a care home. Any decision should be made in light of this individual at this time in accordance with their unique circumstances. If the individual can be involved, they should be. In fact, those who feel involved in the decision are less likely to be resistant to the ultimate move.
As a loved one, you may have a good idea of what the family member would want – both now and before their condition deteriorated. It is important that you factor this into the decision. However, you need to weigh this against the reality of now. Even if the individual was vociferously vocal about never wanting to go into a care home before they lost mental capacity, it may still be in their best interests so that their care needs can be reliably met.
Often, loved ones are making the decision about a care home move with preconceived ideas about care homes and, at best, a fictional one in mind. It can really help to view prospective dementia care homes and see directly how the individual’s care needs can be better served. You can also chat through your concerns with professionals experienced in dementia.
Come and see for yourself how at Eastleigh we can make a difference. Call to arrange a viewing on 01769 573166.