Moving into a care home: advice for lesbian, gay and bisexual people

4. Moving in

The first weeks in a care home are often difficult for both the person with dementia and their carer. Feelings of doubt about the choice of home often surface at this time. You may feel that other people have taken over and that they do not understand the person's needs as well as you do.

Give yourself time and stay calm. This settling in period is similar to moving home or starting a new job. Visit regularly and don't be afraid to ask questions or make requests. Keep assuring the person with dementia how much you care for them.

If you take lesbian or gay friends with you when you visit, they may well be noticed. The relatives and friends of other residents will make contact and will want to place you in context. In other words, if you haven't already, you will face the challenge of 'coming out'. You might want to consider letting your sexuality be known at least to a few selected people. It will help staff to get to know you and your partner better and this may affect the care that your loved one receives. Before they enter the home, try to discuss how the person with dementia might like to approach this.

Wherever possible, ensure that you involve other members of the person's family in matters related to their care. They need to take some responsibility. Should difficulties arise later, they will be less likely to complain if they were consulted. Where a partner is concerned, everyone should regard you as the next of kin.

Recognise where your priorities lie. The person with dementia is the first priority. The home is simply an agent employed by you to provide care. The excellent quality of the care you have provided and may continue to provide in the home should be fully recognised.