Having to make the decision to move a loved one permanently into a dementia care home can be complicated, contentious and deeply distressing. Many people find that, although full-time care may arguably be in someone’s best interests, it is often perceived as some sort of surrender or personal failing and something to be done when we are unable to give our loved ones the care they deserve.
The fact is, however, that sometimes it is genuinely the best thing that you can do for someone who is suffering from progressive dementia.
This article will hopefully help you navigate this important decision, weigh up the factors at play, and ultimately do the right thing – whatever that turns out to be.
On Dementia – Care and Capacity
Dementia is a terrible affliction which currently directly affects around 850,000 people in the UK1. While the precise combination of symptoms and speed of deterioration varies from person to person – it is, very sadly, a universally degenerative condition. This means that symptoms will inevitably get worse over time.
One of the first things to consider when looking at full-time specialist care is the capacity of the sufferer. Capacity, in this context, refers to a person’s ability to make important decisions on their own – and refers to a piece of legislation called the Mental Capacity Act, which serves to protect people who are particularly vulnerable. In a nutshell, if a person has the ability to make a decision on their own care reasonably, sensibly and based on realistic analysis, as a person who is not suffering from dementia would, they would be considered to have the capacity – ie the mental capacity to make a reasonable and sensible decision. On the other hand, if they were not able to do so, they would be said to lack capacity – ie lack the mental capacity to make a reasonable and sensible decision.
In cases where someone is professionally assessed and deemed to be lacking capacity, decisions over long-term care would then be handled by a person with the lasting power of attorney.
So the question to ask is:
“Can my loved one make reasonable and sensible decisions on their own care?”
- Yes – What are their wishes?
- No – What is in their best interests?
Is Long-Term Care the Right Way Forward?
Long-term dementia care in a Care Home can present many benefits, such as the presence of appropriately trained staff, specially adapted accommodation, and the ability for those who suffer with dementia to make new friends and socialise with others who understand their condition. It also, perhaps most importantly, directly ensures that dementia sufferers get the specialist care they need – which sometimes simply cannot be provided by a friend or family member, who may well have other important priorities and pressures in their lives.
There are of course alternatives to long-term care in a Care Home – eg relocation to more suitable housing or co-habiting with a friend or family member who can provide the required care.However, as the condition progresses, there may eventually come a time when long term dementia care in a Care Home would need to be considered.
In all cases, careful and considered judgements will need to be made about what approach will provide a loved one who suffers from dementia the best possible care, the best possible quality of life, and care that is sustainable and in their best interest.
Short Stays – A way to ‘try out’ long-term care.
If you are unsure about the prospect of placing a loved one permanently in a Care Home, there is always the option of trying this out by booking your loved into a Care Home of your choice for a short respite stay – be it a week or two or more – and then decide the way forward. Respite care can also provide full-time personal carers with a welcomed break.
Paxton Hall Care Home offers ‘respite care’, which aims to allow potential residents to try out staying in a Care Home as well as provide carers with a break from the responsibilities of full-time caring. It can also provide a useful and insightful opportunity to see and experience what long-term care looks like practically, and to have discussions with the highly trained staff
 https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/about-us/news-and-media/facts-media Retrieved 10 January 2020