NEW research has revealed as many as three quarters of people in the North East worry about having to live in a care home, a charity has warned.
Alzheimer’s Society has found 75% of people in the region have concerns about living in a residential home for fear they will become isolated.
The report, Low Expectations, finds excellent care does exist, but that negativity about life in care homes is leading people to settle for less.
It is revealed three quarters of relatives would recommend their loved one’s care home even though less than half say their relative has a good quality of life.
With as many as 80% of care home residents having dementia or severe memory problems, the Alzheimer’s Society is calling on Government and the best care homes to do more to ensure minimum standards and effective regulation.
Caroline Burden, area manager for Alzheimer’s Society in the North East, said: “We know there is lots of excellent quality care in residential care homes, but our research has found 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 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.”
North East actor Kevin Whately, who has written the foreword for the report, has openly talked about his mother’s battle with dementia and the troubles he faced finding her a good care home.
He said: “The care home my mum lived in was excellent, but we had to go through hell to find it. Over the years I’ve visited a number of homes across the country, both for my mum and as part of my role as an Alzheimer’s Society ambassador. I’ve seen examples of excellent care, and homes that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
“It shouldn’t be this way. People with dementia wherever they are should be able to count on the highest-quality care across the board.”
Lesley Bainbridge, who lives in Durham City, was delighted with the care her late father, Bill Drake, received at Belmont in County Durham.
She said: “The carers at the home were exceptional. They are predominantly young and I was immediately impressed at their care and empathy for their residents. They would spend the time to find out about a resident so they could understand the individuals needs.
“The care home would often arrange music sessions for the residents and day visitors. The grounds of the home are immaculate. In the enclosed gardens is a budgie cree and a rabbit run. Little touches like this are invaluable.
“At his funeral in a eulogy from my sister she praised the unsung heroes of the care home for their care, friendship and empathy. His carers attended his funeral and we know they did this out of respect and not out of duty.”
Alzheimer’s Society 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 leaflet ‘This is Me’ were released last month. Both are available as free downloads at www.alzheimers.org.uk/lowexpectations