Live-in care – how to find the right dementia carer

Written by Jack Walsh05/01/24


Dementia Care

A dementia carer can make a significant positive impact by providing quality care for your loved one. In this article we’ll explain how carers assist with daily activities, maintain diet and hydration, address sleep issues, and support personal hygiene tasks. We’ll also share insights into making private care arrangements, advertising for home care, and using introduction agencies or private care providers. Understand the key questions to ask when choosing a dementia carer and explore the hassle-free process of finding a dementia carer with Elder’s comprehensive screening and matching platform.

How can a carer help someone with dementia?

Assist with daily activities

During the early stages of dementia, individuals can maintain a similar quality of life and their usual daily living in familiar surroundings.

As symptoms progress, individuals may experience increased anxiety, stress, and fear due to difficulties with memory, following conversations, and concentration.

A dementia-friendly care worker can help the person maintain their usual daily life and assist with social activities to benefit their well-being and mental health. Examples include helping with everyday tasks, such as household chores, shopping, gardening, walking the dog, accompanying the person on walks, and meeting friends.

Help to maintain diet and hydration

Individuals with different types of dementia may experience a decreased awareness of their thirst, leading to inadequate fluid intake.

This exposes them to potential risks and medical conditions, such as Urinary tract infections, constipation and headaches. These factors can contribute to heightened confusion and exacerbate the symptoms of dementia.

Some common food-related issues with dementia include sometimes having difficulty remembering their preferred food and drink choices, declining or spitting out food, and asking for unusual food combinations.

An experienced carer could help stick to specific meals times and keep to a food/drink routine while providing familiar food in smaller, more manageable servings, including serving finger foods, in case the person has problems using cutlery.


Help with personal hygiene tasks

People with dementia may experience anxiety related to personal care and hygiene and may require assistance with bathing.

A carer can help by encouraging regular washing, as a person with dementia may struggle to stick to their previous hygiene routine or have increasing anxiety around the tasks. The carer can figure out the person’s preferred way of washing and create a safe and comfortable routine that doesn’t cause stress. Including helping with access and making sure select wash products are available.

How a carer can help with sleep issues

Dementia can impact sleep patterns and disrupt a person’s circadian rhythm. People with dementia may wake frequently and become disoriented during these episodes. They may also attempt to dress themselves, unaware of the time of day.

Sleep disturbance can be a transient stage of dementia that may resolve over time. In the meantime, a carer can help in various ways. A carer can help the person get adequate daylight during the day and engage in physical activity to make them more tired when it’s time for bed. They can also limit daytime naps and monitor the person’s caffeine and alcohol intake.

Making private arrangements for dementia care

You may already know someone you want to employ to be a private carer and provide 24/7 care for your loved one. There can be advantages to this, mainly if it’s someone that the care recipient already knows and trusts. However, there can also be challenges in going down this route.

Employing a private carer means you’re responsible for providing a contract of employment for them, paying at least the minimum wage and managing their tax and national insurance affairs. Even if you know someone, background checks should still be carried out, especially a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), to ensure there is no reason they could be unsuitable to work with a vulnerable adult with dementia. Employing a friend or family carer can also impact your relationship with them, as there must be set employment conditions.

You could advertise for someone to provide home care for your loved one. If you do this, you will need to conduct further extensive background checks, ensure that they’re legally entitled to work in the UK and take up two written references, preferably one from their most recent employer. As an employer, you would be responsible for paying holiday and sick pay as appropriate.

The person you employ must have experience and training in specialist care and Alzheimer’s care and not only general elderly care. They will need to know how to maintain your loved one’s dignity and support their independent living as far as possible. Specialist training will ensure that they can cope with the challenging behaviour that those living with dementia can exhibit.

If you decide to make private care arrangements such as this, you must also consider what happens when the carer needs time off, holidays or is ill. Unless you can take over the care of your loved one temporarily, you will need to find a suitable carer for respite care who can provide dementia care with the same level of care until their regular carer returns.

Using an introduction care agency

An introduction agency is similar to finding your private elderly care, but here, some of the preliminary work is carried out by the agency. Background checks should be conducted, and some agencies train the carers they introduce. You may still have to take on the legal responsibilities of being an employer, such as liability insurance, and may also need to make provisions for holidays and sickness.

Using a private care provider

A reputable care provider will ensure that your loved one’s carer has all the experience and training they need to deliver effective dementia care. In addition to background checks and training.

The care provider employs the carer, so you do not have to worry about income tax, national insurance, sick pay or holiday pay. The fees you pay include all this and day-to-day management and supervision. The company will also provide a contact number you can use at any time if you have concerns about any aspect of your loved one’s care.

Carers employed by private care providers usually work on a rota, so there may be two carers looking after your loved one and working a pattern such as two weeks on and two weeks off. They will both be carefully selected to suit your loved one and provide continuity of care fitting the care plan, which can significantly benefit people with dementia. When a carer is on holiday or off sick, the other can cover, so there is always someone familiar around.


Questions to ask a potential dementia carer

  1. What were the highlights and challenges of your previous job?
  2. Have you had any prior experience caring for people with dementia? If so, please share your experiences.
  3. What personality type do you think an individual must have to be a compassionate caregiver?
  4. What are your strongest character traits? What are your weakest character traits?
  5. What would you do if a person with dementia refused help?
  6. What would you do if a person with dementia began to wander at night?
  7. Describe a time when your organizational skills came into play.
  8. How would your friends describe you?
  9. What made you interested in being a caregiver?


You may also want to ask some situational questions based on your loved one’s dementia symptoms or behaviours. These may include things like: 

  1. Mum sometimes hallucinates that she can smell smoke and gets very frightened by it. How would you respond to this? 
  2. Dad keeps getting up in the middle of the night and tries to leave the house. We keep the door locked, but he gets extremely agitated when he can’t open it. How would you encourage him to stay in bed and calm him down? 
  3. At the moment, mum isn’t keen on a lot of the meals she used to enjoy, how would you encourage her to eat enough? 
  4. Dad sometimes accuses people of taking his things if he misplaces them. How would handle the situation if he accused you? 

Finding a dementia carer with Elder

When choosing Elder to help you find a dementia carer, we’ll do the background checks for you. Only 10% of live-in carers who apply to join Elder’s platform make it through our screening process. We’ll uniquely match you to a handful of carers who can provide high-quality of care based on everything you tell us you need via your online account. You can view each carer’s comprehensive profile and welcome video before choosing who you like best. You also won’t have to worry about providing your carer with holiday and sick pay, as when they join the platform, that is all sorted through our award-winning carer loyalty programme.

When a loved one receives a diagnosis of dementia, their only care options aren’t care homes or other residential care, with Elder live-in dementia care, they can stay in the home they love and know without compromising on personalised care with professional carers.

Elder’s Head of Clinical, Alexis Cable shares advice on how care seekers can feel more confident in finding the right carer for their needs. Our clinical team of health and social care professionals provide clarity on a range of care topics and set the standards for care – ensuring we’re always person centred in our approach and continually striving for excellence in everything we do.

Learn more about dementia care

Take a look at more Elder guides on living with and caring for dementia. 

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