Identifying the time when someone living with dementia needs to move into residential care is a highly individual process. Some people make the move at an earlier stage so that they can have more of a say in their care plans and can settle in while they are still able to recognise what is happening to them. Others arrive further along in their diagnosis when previous arrangements stop working, or circumstances mean that a change of plan is required.
Either way, caring for people with dementia requires its own set of specialist skills, tools and approaches. Whether the care home is a specialist dementia setting, or has a mix of residents with differing social and medical care needs, here are some ways in which digital care management software and person-led, compassionate support can help keep people comfortable and safe.
Everyday grooming and tasks
Depending on how far residents’ dementia has progressed, encouraging them to continue carrying out familiar daily tasks can help establish a routine that gives their day added purpose. This is especially important for grooming and hygiene, as coping with these types of daily tasks alone or with minimal support can help people retain their dignity and help them feel better about their physical health and wellbeing.
Ask people how they would like to be helped with grooming, bathing and getting ready in the mornings and at night. Once a routine has been established, the details can be recorded in the person’s individual care notes on the digital care management system so that carers can stick to the same order of tasks and level of support.
Food and drink
Managing and monitoring the diet and food and fluid intakes of people with dementia is very important. People can become dehydrated very quickly if they forget to drink, or do not recognise that they are thirsty. This can lead to fatigue, urinary tract infections, headaches, constipation and other medical concerns. Likewise, making sure that people eat well-balanced, nutritious meals, spaced out evenly throughout the day to keep energy levels high and to support the body’s immune system and other key functions.
One area where carers should take particular pains to monitor is when people start to refuse food because they don’t recognise it, or are unsure of their likes and dislikes. Again, using the in-built food and drink monitoring tools of a digital care management system to track this can be hugely beneficial. Intuitive software can monitor weight loss, fluid intake, dietary requirements, allergies and more to ensure each resident is receiving the right food and drink for their individual needs.
Routines, planning and paperwork
Most care homes that look after people living with dementia will have plenty of memory aids, visual prompts, labels and reminders already in place to help residents cope with day-to-day life. Establishing and maintaining routines is important for people who have become disorientated or are living with a form of dementia. Using care management software to plan staff rotas is part of this. It can really help residents to understand when certain members of staff will be looking after them and what they will be doing. Planning staff rotas in plenty of time allows care managers to ensure that the right people can be on shift to keep important routines in place.
Another key area where digital care software planning and administrative tools can help people living with dementia and their families is gathering evidence, treatment plans and reports. This can help with a range of key paperwork, from applying for grants and financial support to completing applications for enduring power of attorney or signing medical consent forms.
Medical care and wellbeing
Naturally, the medical care and overall wellbeing of care home residents living with dementia is paramount. Here, too, a digital care management system can add a huge amount of support, reassurance and added value. Using a digital eMAR system to record all medications accurately and regularly can help prevent overdoses and keep track of any changes in behaviour or unexpected side effects. The nurse call feature enables residents to summon assistance on the middle of the night, or whenever they need it, for urgent attention. Finally, another key way to support residents with dementia and their families is through the Namaste Care approach. This is a compassion-led approach to working with people with advanced dementia who require more complex help and support. Namaste Care centres on sensory stimulation, such as lights, music, massage and fragrances to provide a calm and safe environment.