Care homes are always happy to answer any questions you might have, or just have an informal chat about the services they offer.

For some larger national care home providers, you may not always go straight through to the care home when you call. If this is the case just ask for the customer relations manager, who will be able to help answer your questions.

You need to choose the care that is right for you, so if you are looking for a care home that specialises in dementia then here are some questions that it might be helpful to ask: 

Do you offer specialised dementia care?

First of all, check that the care home offers specialist dementia care. 

If the care home is a nursing home then there will be trained nurses on duty so they are likely to offer care for people who have a medical condition such as dementia that has progressed beyond early stages, or people who have been told they have other nursing needs.

If the care home is a residential home but not a nursing home (some can be both) then you need to check, as specialised dementia care is not offered by all residential care homes.

Find out more about dementia-friendly residential and nursing homes.

What dementia training and qualifications do staff have?

Once you know that the care home offers specialised dementia care, check the training received by staff.

You might want to ask:

  • What training have staff received in dementia care?
  • At what level have they been trained to?
  • Do staff have accredited qualifications in dementia care?

How is the care home made safe for residents with dementia?

Ask about safety measures in place around the care home, bearing in mind that dementia can progress and residents may accidently put themselves in danger.

The care home should provide a safe and secure environment for your loved one without appearing like a prison. Homes specialising in dementia may have extra security. Potentially dangerous medication, appliances and other items should be locked away and there may be locks on doors and monitoring of resident’s movements where appropriate.

All rooms should have fire alarms, and most homes will have call systems fitted in bedrooms. 

What dementia-friendly activities are on offer?

Ask what activities are on offer that people with dementia will enjoy and can take part in.

These might include:

  • Local walks
  • Arts & crafts
  • Baking
  • Gentle exercise classes
  • Baking
  • Quizzes
  • Music sessions
  • Day trips to local attractions
  • Shopping
  • Board games
  • Tea dances
  • Bingo
  • Pet therapy
  • Music therapy

Some care homes even recreate environments from the past that would be familiar to residents, such as an old pub or shop setting. This can be especially comforting and enjoyable for residents with dementia.

How will you get to know my loved one?

Someone with dementia may forget details about themselves and their life over time, so ask how the care home will get to know your loved one especially at an early stage. Some care homes will spend time building a book for each resident with their life story, preferences and other information that helps the carers to really get to know your loved one.

If you haven’t already started a memory book (a collection of photos, pictures, memorabilia or descriptions that you can collect in a scrapbook together over time) then now would be a great time, as they can take it with them to help carers to get to know your loved one and be able to ask them questions about.

How is the care home environment dementia-friendly?

Ask the care home how they make the environment safe and suitable for people living with dementia. Examples might include:

  • Lighting – brighter lighting to reduce the risk of falls, also some people living with dementia can become anxious or afraid of shadows
  • Dementia-friendly furniture and layout – for example, the bed may be positioned so that the toilet in the en-suite is easily identifiable and the toilet may be made more easily recognisable with a contrasting coloured toilet seat, avoiding lots of mirrors which can make a room more difficult to process. Busy wallpaper and clutter can be confusing for the resident.
  • Signage and prompts – for example, the care home might use special signage (including pictures) and different colour schemes so that a resident can easily identify where they are
  • Quiet areas – can residents spend some time reflecting or taking part in quiet and peaceful activities?

Can residents bring personal furniture?

To create a comfortable and familiar environment, some care homes allow residents to bring furniture from home. This helps someone with dementia to keep a connection to their past environment and can be very comforting to them.

What help is available with mealtimes?

Eating and drinking can sometimes become challenging for someone living with later stage dementia. However a care home that specialises in dementia will have a team that are trained to help your loved one, and make sure they are getting the nutrition and hydration they need.

As well as this, ask about menus, the variety of food available, and whether it’s cooked on site.

Related Articles

Looking after yourself

When caring for someone it is important to also look after yourself, view our tops tips on how to best do this

Types of Elderly Care

Guide to the different care services available to the elderly

Where to look for care

Many of us need some extra help in the form of care, this article helps advise on where to start looking for this