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Dementia Live-in Care or Care Homes: What's the Difference?

People with dementia experience many problems, both with memory and with cognition. Alzheimer’s disease is the commonest form of dementia, but there are other types including vascular dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies. People with Parkinson’s disease can also develop dementia. Whatever your loved one’s specific diagnosis, if they are living with this condition, they are almost certain to need care and support as it progresses.

The majority of older people, when asked, stated a preference for remaining in their own homes if they could. Professionals largely agree that it is beneficial for older people, especially those with dementia, to stay in their familiar environment as it can be very hard for them to accept change. However, care at home is only a viable alternative to dementia care in a home if the right support is available in the home, and that means live-in care.

Dementia Live-in Care

Care for people living with dementia can be provided in various ways in the home, and some are better than others.

You can find a private carer to come and live in your loved one’s home and provide support. If you organise your own private dementia care, you will need to screen any applicants carefully, check references and ensure that they have suitable dementia care experience and training to be able to provide appropriate care. You will also have to comply with the legal requirements of being an employer, which can be quite onerous. When the live-in carer is on holiday, or absent for any other reason, you will have to engage a suitable replacement, so it is an ongoing responsibility.

The best way to arrange in-home care for your loved one is to find a private live-in care provider who will manage the care. A good provider will not only recruit carers; it will carry out extensive background checks, ensure they are suitably trained and match a carer carefully with the care recipient.

Because the care provider employs the carer directly, they will be responsible for all the employment details such as tax and national insurance and you will just pay the care fees to them. This is much simpler and means that you do not have to worry about the day-to-day management of your loved one’s care. The provider will arrange for 24/7 care from an alternative carer when the first is not with your family member.

What is Included in Dementia Live-in Care?

In this type of home care, a carer will support your loved one to continue living independently in their own home. They will move into the property with your loved one and help in any way that is needed. In addition to helping with the usual aspects of elderly care such as personal hygiene or mobilising, they will also perform household duties such as cooking and domestic work.

This type of 24/7 care is more like having a skilled family member living with your loved one, and a real friendship can develop between carer and care recipient. The carer will often work on a rotational basis and when they are away another carefully selected carer will take over. The provider will ensure that the carer chosen for your loved one has the necessary Alzheimer’s care training and experience they will need to meet your relative’s needs.

Mikis’ care story

In this short video, Nick and Maro explain their reasons for choosing Elder live-in care.

They discuss how live-in care has allowed Nick’s father Mikis to stay independent in his own home while making a new friend at the same time.

Care Homes

Some care homes can provide dementia care but some cannot. Those that offer more than straightforward elderly care may have higher staff ratios, a specially adapted environment and staff trained in caring for people with dementia.

Many older people are worried at the prospect of going into a care home and having to share their lives with a large group of other older people. For those who have dementia, the move can be disturbing, and they may have problems making sense of the new world they find themselves in.

In a care home, staff are available to help your loved one 24 hours a day. There will be a call bell system to ring for assistance, but staff will also carry out regular checks through the night too.

Disadvantages of Care Homes

A key disadvantage of placing your loved one into a care home is that they have to share all the resources, including carers, with all the other residents and will not get the one-to-one attention they would with live-in care.

Although care homes aim to support their residents to remain as independent as possible, this is difficult when there are so many people with individual needs to care for. It means that the choices about their daily life that your loved one would enjoy at home are curtailed to some extent.

In an environment where everything is provided for them, people can be at risk of losing the ability to carry out the activities of daily living. Unless they are encouraged to remain active, they can become bored and lethargic.

If you are considering putting your loved one into a care home, look beyond the physical environment and try to judge how the staff interact with the residents, and whether the people in the home appear happy and interested in life.

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