More than two thirds of people in the East of England fear living in a care home

A report launched this week by Alzheimer’s Society has found that 70% of people in the East of England would be very or fairly scared about going into a care home. The report, entitled Low Expectations, finds that excellent care does exist, but that pessimism about life in care homes is leading people to settle for less.

The report also reveals three quarters of relatives would recommend their loved one’s care home despite less than half saying their relative has a good quality of life. With 1,878 care homes in the East with 50,492 places available in total and at least 80% of care home residents having dementia or severe memory problems, the charity is calling on the government and the best care homes to do more to ensure minimum standards and more effective regulation.

Paul Dunnery, Area Manager for Alzheimer’s Society in East Anglia said: “We know that there is lots of excellent quality care in residential care homes, but our research has found that people have very low expectations of what a care home will offer and many are scared of ever living in one. Too often we hear that people with dementia in care homes don’t have the opportunity for regular and meaningful social interaction and activities of their choice which help them continue to live well with dementia. Care homes shouldn’t be seen as an isolated place of last resort but as part of the wider community. They should be championing the fact that with the right support, it is possible to live well with dementia.”

LOCAL CASE STUDY

Hannah Gardner from Bedfordshire was carer to her mum who passed away earlier this month with Alzheimers Disease. Prior to this, Hannah’s mum lived in the same care home as Hannah’s grandparents in Letchworth. Hannah said: “The care that Mum received in her home was fantastic. Mum’s needs were responded to as her condition deteriorated, enabling her to maintain a good quality of life.

“The home was a stimulating environment and Mum was able to participate in activities that she enjoyed, such as assisting with cooking. On one occasion Mum and her parents were all taken out for a picnic together.

“Seeing Mum so well cared for and having such a good quality of life in the home helped our family to cope as her dementia progressed because we knew she was in such safe hands. As a nurse Mum spent her career caring for others and it was a comfort that she received the care she deserved.”

To support the report, Alzheimer’s Society recently released two new tools to help those choosing a care home and those caring for people with dementia in care homes. The ‘Handy Guide to Selecting a Care Home’ and care home staff leaflet ‘This is Me’ were released in January. Both tools are available as free downloads at www.alzheimers.org.uk/lowexpectations

You can also contact Alzheimer’s Society on 0300 222 1122 or can visit www.alzheimers.org.uk