Specialist dementia care homes are designed for people with dementia. The buildings are usually purpose built and extremely well-designed. The members of staff are highly trained and experienced and will do their best to ensure that your loved one is kept as comfortable as possible and efforts will be made to try and reduce their symptoms wherever possible. The most reassuring point is that safety is top priority in all specialist dementia care homes.
Specialist Dementia Care Homes
Specialist dementia care homes can either be residential or day-care centres. They are cleverly designed to create a warm, friendly environment that will quickly become familiar to your loved one.
The aim is for the dementia patient to be able to enjoy the best level of independence and for you, their carer, to feel happy and confident that your loved one is being really well cared for.
Although you will naturally have very mixed emotions when it comes to the time that your loved one goes to the home – even if it is for a short time to familiarise them with it, in case they need to stay there if you fall ill or are hospitalised – it will be easier for you if you know more about specialist dementia care homes.
When your loved one first goes to the home
When a person with dementia first goes to the home, the members of staff are keen to spend time with their carer. This is so they can understand the dementia patient’s life story. By doing so they can create a treatment plan that is individually tailored to their needs.
Another big bonus for them is that they can use the information they have gleaned about the dementia patient to start conversation with them and encourage reminiscing as many dementia patients still have some long term memory.
How are dementia care facilities designed?
Specialist dementia care homes are usually purpose built facilities. They provide excellent care in comfortable surroundings. These facilities are very carefully designed so that their dementia residents find them welcoming and familiar as this reduces stress and anxiety.
The clever use of color
When memory care homes are being designed, the use of colour plays a key role. Different colours are used for different areas, walls and doors to help the dementia residents to move around more easily and confidently. This reduces their level of anxiety.
Different areas are clearly defined and there is usually excellent signage. These all help the residents find their way around. The furniture used throughout is well designed, comfortable and dementia-friendly.
Carefully designed lighting
With safety as the top consideration, lighting in Alzheimer care residences is given careful consideration. The lighting system is usually very sophisticated as many dementia patients suffer ‘late day confusion’ as dusk falls and can become confused, agitated and even aggressive.
Scientists have found that if the level of lighting is changed very gradually there is no negative impact on dementia patients. Yet the lighting will have slowly become subdued to help signal that bedtime is approaching.
Each dementia patient has their own dedicated room. You will be encouraged to personalise it for your loved one. All homes have a name plate by the door and often a photograph, but some specialist dementia care homes also have a display cabinet that can be personalised with photographs, postcards, certain colours and cute cuddly toys – whatever familiar belongings your loved one would like to see.
Gardens that stimulate the senses
As well as having easy access within the home, it is important that dementia residents can freely move around the garden.
The garden is carefully designed to be flat with broad paths and plenty of seating areas. Many of the gardens are sensory gardens with plants, shrubs and herbs that stimulate the senses with their colours, fragrances and touch.
In some homes, there are sections in the garden where dementia patients can be helped to grow their own flowers and vegetables. This gives them much satisfaction and sense of achievement.
Security to keep dementia patients safe
Because of the nature of dementia, whilst it is important that residents feel free to move around the home and gardens as they wish, the main doors and gates leading outside the centre are securely controlled – usually using a security code keypad to open them.
Specialist dementia care homes- staff
The key component in a specialist dementia care home is its staff. Staff members take a keen interest in all the patients and know each patient’s likes and dislikes, family history and recent experiences.
They have been specially trained to cope with the unpredictable nature of dementia and many receive ongoing training to keep abreast of changes in care and the results of the latest research.
Dementia nurses understand the importance of clear sensitive communication with the dementia patient and their family.
They encourage dementia patients with a variety of daytime activities and have experience in handling difficult situations and restoring the calm. They also closely monitor any changes in dementia patients and will openly discuss these with the patient’s family.
Other types of senior living for dementia patients
While there are a number of specialist dementia care homes, many care homes do not fully specialise in the care of dementia patients but have a dementia care unit which is a separate section, floor or wing in the home.
This wing cares for residents with advanced dementia or Alzheimer’s and who are frail or have severe symptoms. The nurses in these units are also highly trained in dementia care.
If you care for your loved one at home, it can be difficult to accept that their dementia is worsening and that they need a higher level of care than you give.
You may well be feeling guilty that you have such thoughts, but if you speak to any specialist dementia nurse they will reassure you that there does come a time when no matter how much time and effort you put in, it becomes increasingly difficult – and frankly exhausting- to try and meet the increasing needs of your loved one.
Specialist Dementia Care Homes – Final Thoughts
Find the right care home is not always easy and can take time. Whether it is a specialist dementia care home or one with a dedicated section for dementia patients, it is important to make several visits and ask many questions to ensure it is going to be suitable.