Dementia can be distressing, both for the people with this debilitating condition and for their families.
As dementia is a progressive illness, if someone has dementia, their symptoms will get worse over time. This means that they’ll need more care and support, and they may need the professional care and support that can be offered in a nursing home.
This is a difficult decision to make, so it’s important to have all the facts to hand when considering care for dementia patients.
What is dementia?
Dementia is a term that covers a range of disorders which occur when the brain is damaged by a range of different diseases. The most common of these is Alzheimer’s disease, but dementia can also be caused by vascular events, occurring in the brain, mixed dementia (a combination of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia), Lewy bodies or frontotemporal dementia.
Dementia generally involves a slow deterioration of the brain, with symptoms including:
- Memory loss
- Difficulties making decisions and problem solving
- Speech and communication difficulties
- General confusion
- Loss of daily living skills
- Reduced visuospatial skills
Symptoms tend to worsen as dementia progresses. During the later stages of dementia, the most common symptoms include:
- Severe memory problems, for example, people may not recognise close family members.
- A worsening of communication problems. Some people may lose the ability to speak.
- Problems with mobility, making it difficult to move unaided, or becoming unable to walk.
- Behavioural issues, which could include anxiety, distress, hallucinations, agitation and symptoms of depression.
- Issues with loss of appetite, and weight loss
Dementia nursing care
If you’re caring for someone with dementia at home, you may be considering dementia care homes. It’s a difficult decision for both carers and people living with dementia, so there are a few things you might want to take into account when thinking about taking this step.
When is the right time for dementia nursing care?
The right time for someone with dementia to move into a nursing home is a very personal decision, and will be different for everyone.
If you’re struggling with this decision, remember that it’s important to think of what’s best for the person you’re caring for. If you’re at the stage where you’re unable to provide the help and support they need at home, then it might be the right time to start thinking about a nursing home where professional care can be provided.
Similarly, if someone can no longer live independently, it could be the right time for dementia nursing care.
Benefits of care for dementia patients
Although it’s an extremely difficult decision to make, and can often leave a carer feeling guilty, it’s important to recognise that there can be huge benefits of moving into a nursing home for someone with dementia. For example:
- 24-hour support from professionally trained staff
- Activities they enjoy, designed to support their health and wellbeing
- Social benefits of meeting other residents
- Group activities
And, of course, when someone moves into a nursing home, it doesn’t mean that you no longer have an important role in their care. You may find that your relationship with them improves, as you can focus on spending quality time together rather than worrying about everyday care duties.
Things to consider
To make the decision easier, you may want to ask yourself some questions. You could also make these questions talking points for a discussion about dementia care with the person you care for, if they’re able to.
- How might nursing home staff be better able to provide care than you?
- What would the benefits of moving to a nursing home be for the person you care for?
- What would the benefits be for you, and your relationship with them?
- How can you still be involved in their care if they go into a nursing home?
Dementia nursing care at Randolph Hill
NHS Education for Scotland (NES) and the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) developed Promoting Excellence in 2010: A framework for all health and social services staff working with people with dementia, their families and carers.
At Randolph Hill, Promoting Excellence guidance and knowledge is followed in our in-house dementia training. The Skilled level of training is provided to staff who have direct and/ or substantial contact with people who have dementia. This means that nurses, carers and activities staff have a high level of understanding and skill in their work practice.
This ensures too that people with dementia, their families and carers are aware of their rights in the support, care and treatment they should expect to receive.
Here at Randolph Hill Nursing Homes, we do our very best to alleviate some of the difficulties caused by dementia. We offer a safe and stimulating environment for our residents, having clear signage in place to help people find their way around without any unnecessary confusion and distress.
We strongly believe in person-centred care for people with dementia, finding out their life stories and helping the person experience each day in a way that is recognisable and enjoyable.
Stimulating long-term memory
People with dementia often have good long-term memories and can get a huge reward from reminiscing. Our activities teams have many items from the past, often kept in rooms set out in style to bring back memories and encourage debate about ‘by gone’ times.
It’s the little things that count
People with dementia often gain great pleasure from seemingly small interactions. This could be a night time chat with a care worker, or maybe looking at an old family photo album. It could even be a slice of their favourite cake. All of these apparently small things can elicit positive reactions from our patients, not only bringing pleasure to the resident, but also contributing to the job satisfaction of our staff.
Individual dementia care plans
Stability and regular routine are important parts of dementia care, both for residents and families. At our dementia nursing homes across central Scotland, we involve residents and families to write care plans which reflect the needs of that resident.
This attention to detail allows residents to be as comfortable as possible, feeling part of the nursing home community, surrounded by staff who know them well.
Find out more
If you’d like to discuss care for a dementia patient in more detail, or find out about what we offer here at Randolph Hill, just get in touch. We’re more than happy to help with any questions you might have.