Dementia Care: How to Find The Right Carer

Oct 22, 2015 4 min

Finding the right person is essential and challenging. You’ll need to consider their training, references, personal qualities and carry out a trial shift.

Why choose dementia care?

As dementia becomes increasingly prevalent, dementia care is a topic on many people’s minds. One in four people aged 65+ were diagnosed with dementia in 2013, and this is set to rise by 156% over the next 38 years. Dementia sadly brings with it numerous practical difficulties. In most cases this means turning to a carer who can help dementia sufferers, and their families, to cope.

If someone you love is suffering from dementia, it’s important to look for specific dementia care rather than general care.

Living with dementia can be hugely difficult. It can be a demoralising and upsetting time, and carers specialising in dementia care are able to offer a level of support and reassurance that inexperienced carers might not.

Dementia has many effects, cognitive, emotional and practical. Getting the right care in place is important because there are specific approaches that can help a dementia sufferer cope better as their condition progresses. It’s also vital that you and your family get the support you need to find a healthy balance when facing this long-term condition.

Dementia care at home

Dementia sufferers often have difficulty recognising people or places, so building a sense of familiarity is really important. Almost all older people would prefer to stay in their own home as they age, but this can be more important than ever for those who need dementia care.

It is known that dementia patients are easily disorientated and confused, so providing dementia care in a familiar, trusted environment is often the best way to help suffers feel safe. The familiarity of home can provide some much-needed reassurance as other things become more frustrating.

Long term dementia care

The same principle applies as above; familiarity is one of the best gifts you can give a dementia sufferer. As a result, a long-term relationship with one carer is more important for a dementia patient than for people with other age-related complications.

Because dementia sufferers experience memory problems, and can become easily muddled, introducing a new carer into the mix can exacerbate these problems, so consistency is important.

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This will have an impact on where you source dementia care. Often care agencies will send whichever carer is most convenient for them on the day, rather than allowing you to choose and build a long-term relationship with someone.

This is really critical, so if you’re looking for dementia care you’re generally better off using an introductory care platform like HomeTouch or searching for a carer yourself.

Training and experience

When you’re looking for dementia care, the most important thing is likely to be previous experience with a dementia patient. There are useful dementia awareness training courses that dementia care specialists might well have, but this is still no substitute for experience. Dementia care tends to require a greater depth of care than other conditions, and special levels of empathy and patience.

For example: patients might have particular difficulties in communication, and those experienced in delivering dementia care are likely to find it easier to overcome these difficulties.

References and safety checks

Check references and carry out full DBS checks. This is vital in all care situations, but especially when seeking dementia care, as sufferers are likely to be particularly vulnerable. Missing items can genuinely be put down to a patient getting confused and hiding it, so there needs to be no doubt as to the carer’s nature.

Personal qualities

If someone you love has dementia you’ve probably cared for them in one capacity or another, in which case you know how much patience it can take.

Dementia sufferers can experience a number of behavioural and psychological effects that can make dementia care difficult. For example, dementia suffers can often experience mood swings and personality changes, and aggression or irritability.

It’s important to find a carer who has the patience, respect and kindness to deliver dementia care in a sensitive way, despite these challenges. If you ask us, interviewing a carer is important in all instances, but more so when it comes to dementia care. You need to make sure the carer you find is going to be the right fit for your loved one, long-term.

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Trial shift

Finding the right carer is critical in every situation, but the stakes are higher when it comes to dementia care.

It’s important to conduct a trial shift before hiring anyone. All the interviews in the world are no substitute to seeing first-hand how that dementia care provider operates, and how well they interact with your loved one.

During the trial shift, make sure you’re there throughout. This gives you a chance to observe the carer ‘in action’, and your presence will be reassuring to your loved one.

Ideally you will introduce a new carer slowly, so as not to confuse or frighten the person needing care. A good way to do that is to start introducing a carer while you’re present, gradually spending less time in the house when the carer is. Above all, the important thing is to make sure you find someone you absolutely trust.

find out more about dementia:

Dr Jane Gilbert

Jane has over 20 years’ experience as a health writer and TV presenter. Jane writes on a wide variety of clinical and care topics – from explaining the latest studies and research to unpacking conditions and discussing treatment options. Jane holds a MBBS degree from Imperial College, London and spent seven years working in the NHS.

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