I was reading an excellent feature in the Telegraph today about the experiences of a daughter who placed her elderly mother in a care home, when she was diagnosed with dementia.
Like so many people in this situation, she did her research on various care homes and set a number of criteria, before settling on one home which seemed to be perfect for her mother. She described the home as beautiful with well-maintained grounds.
Regrettably the home was any but perfect, and her mother's behaviour deteriorated. Her hair was unwashed and she generally wore the same clothes day after day. Finally the daughter made a complaint to the Care Quality Commission and within weeks, the care home was issued with a Warning Notice for breaching safeguarding requirements. Apparently there have since been huge improvements to the home, but they came too late for the writer's mother, as she was moved to another care home.
The writer, Tamara Sturtz-Filby gives a checklist of what to look for when choosing a home for a relative with dementia:-
The feature contains practical insights into the business of safeguarding. A good care home will have staff, who understand the particular challenges of dementia, a condition which covers a series of different illnesses and the importance of meeting a person's basic needs. Record keeping in particular will be good quality, which means that adverse incidents are addressed quickly and properly investigated.
The other controversial issue raised by the feature is that of medication. According to the Department of Health, one third of dementia patients are inappropriately prescribed anti-psychotic drugs.
There are also lessons for children's homes. Nowadays most children are placed in foster care, but specialist residential units are still used for children, particularly those who are older, and who display challenging behaviour. There has been surprisingly little adverse publicity about such residential units, as opposed to care homes for the elderly and adults with learning difficulties. This may be because of the quality of staff in children's residential units, who will be highly specialised.