Care away from home

Learn about care away from home and short-term care schemes.

If short-term care is arranged away from home, the person with dementia may take some time to settle into their new environment. It may also take them some time to readjust when they get home. The person with dementia may not understand why they need to go somewhere else, so those around them need to give calm reassurance that this is only for a short time and carers need to be firm about the fact that they need a break.

The carer should visit the place beforehand, preferably with the person with dementia, to ensure that it is suitable and can cater for individual needs. They should also check that staff have enough information to enable them to relate to the person with dementia as an individual, to reassure them when necessary and to avoid any unnecessary distress. Life history books or personal profiles can help to give vital information about the person with dementia. These will aid staff to understand their needs and interests.

Travelling and going on holiday

Some forms of holiday accommodation may be able to cater for people with dementia travelling alone or taking a break with their carer. 

Short-term care schemes

Another option is short-term care provided by residential care homes, nursing homes or hospitals. This is not always easy to arrange, as it depends on a place being vacant at a specific time. However, some homes and hospitals put aside a number of places for short-term care, enabling carers to plan ahead.

  • A home providing residential care only will probably be suitable if the person with dementia is mobile and has fewer care needs. Staff usually provide support with washing, dressing and going to the toilet and will assist at mealtimes, if necessary, but they do not provide nursing care.
  • A home providing nursing care is likely to be suitable if the person with dementia has difficulty moving, has continence problems or nursing care needs.

Our factsheet, 'Care homes: When is the right time and who decides?', explains what to look for when choosing a care home.

The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) regulates all care providers in Northern Ireland, including care homes and care delivered in the person’s home. Lists of care providers and inspection reports are available. (See ‘Other useful organisations’ for contact details.)

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