‘Don't wait until care crisis point’ urges dementia care provider

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New research by a leading care provider reveals more than half (62 per cent) of people in Leeds waited to move their loved one into a care home until after a health crisis.

Other findings included:

  • 81 percent said that having the conversation about moving into care was very difficult

  • Five in 10 (55 per cent) admitted to lying to loved ones during the process

  • More than half (57 per cent) said their loved one was resistant to moving into a care home

Now a dementia care provider in the UK is challenging the perception of care in older age, after new research has shown that many people wait until breaking point before reaching out for help when it comes to the care of their loved one.

James Rycroft, managing director at Vida HealthcareJames Rycroft, managing director at Vida Healthcare
James Rycroft, managing director at Vida Healthcare

The study by Vida Healthcare highlights the uncertainty around the different types of care available within the UK, with many people in Leeds admitting to not knowing what different types of care involve. A quarter (25 percent) of Leeds adults aren’t confident that they know what residential care is, 29 percent aren’t sure what nursing care is, more than a third (35 percent) aren’t confident they know what dementia care is, while 34 percent don’t know what social care is and 28 percent don’t know what respite care involves.

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This lack of understanding and reluctance to discuss care options with family members often results in Leeds families delaying the inevitable - the research has revealed that more than half (62 percent) of adults in Leeds have waited until crisis point before seeking expert care and support for their loved one. This can then make the process more difficult for families as they try to avoid the tricky conversations and difficult decisions.

Another contributing factor to people in Leeds avoiding conversations around a loved one’s care is the perceptions of care homes in the UK - almost a third (30 percent) of those surveyed in Leeds said their perceptions of care homes were negative.

Of adults in the city who currently have or have previously had loved ones in care, almost six in 10 (57 percent) said their family member was resistant to moving into a care home. The resistance is due to several factors including missing their own home (22 percent), being scared (22 percent), feeling very anxious (22 percent) and acknowledging that there was no other solution (24 per cent).

However, those in the Leeds who have had loved ones in care felt very differently. Supportive staff (24 percent), having better care (24 percent), nicer facilities than first thought (21 percent) and fantastic specialist care (10 percent) are just some of the top positives Leeds adults cited once a loved one was in a care home. In fact, more than a quarter (26 percent) of those surveyed in Leeds now believes their loved one is in a better place since they moved into a care home.

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James Rycroft, managing director at Vida Healthcare, said he believes that it’s crucial there is a shift in the perception of care homes in the UK.

“Moving a loved one into a care home can be difficult for all involved. By the time someone starts considering a care home, it’s likely their loved one may be in need of more care than what can be provided at home, and individuals may have come to a point where they can no-longer provide the care and support their loved one needs.

“Our research found that adults are often putting off conversations because of feelings of guilt - more than half (57 percent) of Leeds adults that we spoke to admitted to avoiding the conversation of moving a loved one into care as they felt guilty about doing so, a stigma that we’re dedicated to challenging and changing. It’s important to accept that you are human and there is only so much you can do - an individual cannot provide the level of care that a dedicated care home can.”

Bob Kirby, a retired reverend from York, called on the support of Vida Healthcare for his wife, Jan, after he realised that he simply couldn’t care for her on his own any longer following his own health crisis.

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Jan, 75, began showing signs of Alzheimer’s more than 10 years ago. The couple, who were married for 48 years, had many conversations over the years about how they would like to be cared for when they got old.

Bob commented: “Jan and I never made promises we couldn’t keep and we were realistic in our expectations about going into care if needed.” However, after Jan was finally diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia in 2014, she soon became very resistant to going into a care home and the topic became ‘off limits’.”

Caring for Jan and working as a minister began to put enormous strain on Bob, but it was after the Covid lockdowns were put into place in 2020 that he and his family reached breaking point.

Jan went into a care home for a month for respite care, but the home she was in couldn’t cope with her complex needs. She then moved to Vida Healthcare for specialist care. It was only once Jan started receiving suitable care and was in a safe environment that Bob started to feel able to relax.

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Jan sadly passed away in December 2023. In hindsight, Bob admits that Jan’s worsening condition had crept up on him and his family. Looking back, he realises what a toll caring for his wife had taken on his own health and how much help he needed. Bob would advise people in a similar situation to reach out for help from specialists able to cope with complex needs as soon as possible, wherever they can.

The research from Vida Healthcare also reveals what people from Leeds have learnt from the process of enlisting specialist care and support, in hopes to help others. The top five reassurances include:

  1. You can’t provide the level of care that a care facility does

  2. You haven’t failed a family member by not keeping them at home with you

  3. You should prepare more and talk about options earlier

  4. You and your loved one will feel safer

  5. Plan the move and make it as smooth as possible

James added: “Family members of people living with dementia and other conditions that mean they need to move into a care home shouldn’t feel like they have failed their loved one by not keeping them at home with them.

"On the contrary, being supported by a care provider can ensure that yourself and your loved one are cared for in a respectful and dignified way, that allows independence to be maintained as much as possible, all the while helping to improve your loved one’s wellbeing and quality of life.”

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