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How to choose a care home for someone living with dementia

Choosing the right care home for someone living with dementia can be a daunting and difficult task. Today, there are a variety of care homes available, all of which provide a range of different services and facilities. It is so important that people living with dementia are able to receive high standards of care and support from trained professionals, whilst feeling comfortable and happy.

If someone living with dementia is beginning to struggle with day-to-day tasks or whose wellbeing is at risk, then living within a safe environment could help to improve their quality of life, or in some cases, a care home may be necessary. In this comprehensive guide, we will give you an insight into the different types of care homes available, and help you find the most suitable place for you or your relative.

Get a care needs assessment

Anyone who is living with dementia is entitled to a care needs assessment. This helpful evaluation is used to understand what type of support you or a relative requires. The outcome of this assessment is especially useful when reviewing care homes, to ensure that any specific needs will be carefully provided for. 

The person living with dementia or a carer/relative can request that a care needs assessment is carried out. Simply contact social services at your local council to discuss and make arrangements. It is important to be honest and open during the assessment to make sure the level of care needed is correctly identified. 

Decide between a residential care home and a nursing home

When it comes to the task of selecting the best type of care home for someone living with dementia, it can be hard to understand how a residential care home differs from a nursing home. Both residential and nursing homes provide 24-hour care and support, but there are in fact important differences between the two. Find out more about the difference between residential and nursing homes.

Residential care homes

Residential care homes provide care and support on a 24-hour basis, but do not always have qualified nurses on-site to provide regular medical care. For this reason, these types of care homes are best suited for those who need to be in a safe, supportive setting, but do not need regular medical care.

Residential care homes focus on offering support for residents who need help carrying out daily tasks, such as cleaning, dressing, tidying and taking medication. In addition, many residential care homes specialise in dementia care.

Residential care homes still bring an element of independence by containing a number of services on-site such as cafes, gardens, activity areas and lounges. Residents will also have their own room and personalised space, but with the addition of trained care workers there to support them with their day-to-day lives. 

The benefits of residential care homes for someone living with dementia include:

  • 24-hour care available
  • Regular nutritious meals
  • Opportunities to socialise and join in activities
  • Clean, tidy living environments
  • Maintaining a level of independence
  • Trained staff to administer medication

Nursing homes

If someone living with dementia also requires consistent medical care, then a nursing home may be better suited to them. These types of homes still offer the same, high level of support that a residential home does, but they also include 24-hour medical care from qualified nurses. These care homes are able to look after patients with complex needs, often specialising in areas such as dementia. 

As dementia progresses to the latter stages, more complex symptoms can arise, such as problems with eating and drinking, trouble sleeping, becoming frail, weakened immune systems, frequent infections and bowel/bladder inconsistency. Those in the later stages of the condition can be medically cared for within a safe nursing home setting, to ensure that they are able to maintain the highest quality of life possible.

The benefits of nursing homes for someone living with dementia include:

  • Dedicated, 24-hour, specialised medical care.
  • On-site cleaning staff to maintain cleanliness. 
  • Nutritious meals provided and catered-for dietary needs.
  • A protected environment to ensure safety.
  • The given ability to socialise with other residents, along with family visits.
  • Relieving pressure off family members. 

Take a look at The Fremantle Trust’s specialist dementia care homes.

Who chooses a care home for someone with dementia?

If a relative who is living with dementia still has the mental capacity to make decisions and think clearly, then it is always best that they decide for themselves. Your family can help to support them with this decision and provide them with all the necessary information. However, if they can no longer make decisions, then an attorney will usually decide with the person’s best interests in mind. 

A lasting power of attorney (LPA) allows for someone trusted to make decisions on behalf of a person. A health and welfare LPA is legally able to make decisions about care and medical treatment, but they must always put the person’s best interests and welfare first. Having an LPA in place can be highly valuable for someone with dementia, due to the progressive nature of the condition.  

What to consider when choosing a care home for someone living with dementia

If you are at the stage where you need to start looking at care homes for you or your loved one, it’s important to go into the search well-informed, with strict criteria that align with what you are looking for from a residential home. Before visiting, make sure to:

  • Check whether the home provides the level of care you or your loved one needs. They should also be able to support you should your health worsen. 
  • Enquire if the home of interest has any vacancies. If it doesn’t, how long will you be expected to stay on the waiting list?
  • Read the home’s website and brochure and call or speak to someone directly. 
  • Visit the home as soon as possible to ensure that you like the surroundings and feel at home. 
  • Read the CQC and check the score from their recent inspection.

Care Quality Commission (CQC) report

The role of the Care Quality Commission (CQC), as an independent regulator, is to register health and adult social care providers in England and to conduct a thorough inspection and ongoing monitoring to ensure that all standards are being met. 

You may have come across the CQC and a score when researching residential homes for your loved one. This rating will tell you whether the provider’s service is deemed to be outstanding, good, requires improvement or is inadequate. 

During the inspection, the care provider will be assessed across five key questions, are they safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led? This will be reviewed every 6-12 months in order to stay up to date with any changes. Once a score has been generated, the overall grade will be published on the CQC website. 

So, when you are choosing a home for your loved one, it’s important to bear in mind that you should not be choosing one with a rating anything less than ‘good’. However, some providers can go longer than a year without being reviewed, therefore, a lot may have changed.

There are a number of important factors to consider when choosing a care home for someone who is living with dementia. Taking the time to research what is offered by different care homes will help to ensure that you find the best, most suitable place for yourself or a relative. 

Location of the care home

The location of a care home can be a significant factor in the decision-making process. If a loved one is living with dementia, it is important to find a home that is not too far away and has good travel links to make visiting easy. In addition, the local environment can have an impact on mental health and contribute to happiness.

Some care homes are situated in peaceful environments, e.g. with countryside walks nearby, whilst others are located near bustling towns full of activities and services. Finding the right location for someone with dementia can help to make the process easier for all involved.

Care home facilities

Each care home offers its own unique facilities, all focused on providing comfort and contentment. Facilities on offer at care homes can include:

  • Comfortable bedrooms, often with en-suite bathrooms.
  • Communal lounge areas to socialise with friends.
  • Outdoor spaces and gardens.
  • Cafes and shops.
  • Hair and beauty salons.
  • Dining areas for enjoying nutritious meals. 
  • A range of group and individual activities. 
  • Day trips to the local area.
  • Cinema rooms.
  • Lifts between floors.


Cost is, of course, an important factor that needs to be taken into account. You may be eligible to receive financial help from your local council or though the NHS, which can be established through a care needs assessment. The cost of care homes also varies between each home and is heavily dependent on the area it is located in. 

The cost of a residential home ranges from £1100 to £1300 per week and around £1200 to £1800 per week for a nursing home.


Both residential and nursing homes are run by a team of trained, professional staff. You may wish to find a care home that includes staff who specialise in dementia care and are trained in this area. It is also important that someone living with dementia feels at ease and comfortable around members of staff. They should feel happy to talk to them if they face any issues or would like additional support in any particular area. You can arrange to visit care homes where you can be introduced to members of the team. 


Maintaining social connections should be a priority for people living with dementia. Having people to talk and reminisce with has been proven to help reduce anxiety and depression and can help to calm down those living with dementia. Care homes will offer many community areas, where those with dementia can chat and make friends over a cup of tea. Group activities are also regularly hosted at care homes to encourage communication, and prevent loneliness. Finding out which social activities are facilitated by each home, along with how many residents they have, can be helpful for the decision-making process. 

To better understand how a dementia care home can support the needs of those requiring care and to enquire about a care home within The Fremantle Trust contact us today.

We have dementia care homes located across the Buckinghamshire county. Learn more about care homes nearest to you:
Dementia care Aylesbury
Dementia care home Princes Risborough
Dementia care home Chalfont St Peter
Dementia Care home in Amersham
Dementia Care homes in Slough
Dementia care home Chesham
Dementia care home Stoke
Dementia care Burnham 
Dementia care High Wycombe
Dementia care Marlow