Grief, loss and bereavement

7. Residential care

If the person with dementia goes into residential care, you may experience a range of feelings including relief, sadness and guilt. These feelings are normal and may change over time. You may be worried about how the person will settle in, and whether the care they receive will be good enough.

A move into residential care is a big change in a relationship, and you may miss having the person around. You may also feel that you are no longer able to play an active part in their care. All of this may contribute to feelings of guilt and sadness.

If you’ve been a carer for a long time, the move to residential care can have a big impact on you. Some carers find they feel lost and have a sense of emptiness. Other people may expect a carer to be able to get on with their life quickly after the person goes into care and may not appreciate how they might be feeling.

There may also be practical and financial issues to think about when the person goes into care (such as living arrangements) which can affect your feelings and ability to cope.

Tips for when the person moves into residential care

  • You don’t stop being a carer just because someone has moved into a care home. If you still want to be involved in caring for the person, such as helping with mealtimes, speak to the care home staff and discuss how you can work together.
  • You will know the person’s likes, dislikes, hobbies, routines, life history and more. All of this is important for helping care home staff to support the person. If the person has communication difficulties, you may also wish to use our support tool This is me. This is an easy-to-fill-in form to record these details and help staff understand the person better.
  • At first, you may want to take some time away from caring altogether. The care home should support you with this and welcome you back when you’re ready.
  • However much you are involved with the person in their new home, make time to take care of yourself and your needs.
  • Consider attending a support group. The care home may have a group for family members and carers. These can help you to talk about your feelings and the changes you’re going through.
  • Accept your own feelings in your own way – there is no right or wrong way to feel.