Specialist Dementia Care in Bristol from Bristol Care Homes

Finding specialist dementia care in Bristol for a loved one, family member or friend can be a challenge as the condition is complex and individual to the person and how it affects them. There are many nursing homes in Bristol and the UK which offer specialist dementia care, however, few of them offer a specialist dementia unit like Bristol Care Homes.

Dementia Care is one of Bristol Care Homes specialist care categories and we have the experience and the qualified and specialist nurses caring for our residents 24/7 giving the exceptional, individual and specialist care that your loved one needs to be happy and content.

Our dedicated teams in each of our 4 nursing homes in Bristol provide outstanding care every day and focus on providing nursing care in a homely and compassionate environment.

What is Dementia?

Dementia is a general term used to describe a range of progressive neurological disorders which impacts a person’s brain and their ability to remember, think, make decisions all of which impact a person’s ability to do everyday activities without confusion and often upset. Dementia is a group of related symptoms which are driven by an ongoing decline of brain function and it is a term used to describe a decline in brain function and there are many different diseases that are the cause of it.

The different types of dementia can affect adults as they get older, however, it is not a normal stage of ageing.

Why do you get Dementia?

There are different causes of dementia and these associate themselves with the different types of dementia.

The brain’s nerve cells (neurons) communicate with each other by sending messages. Dementia damages these nerve cells meaning the messages can’t be sent from and to the brain effectively, impacting the body’s ability to function mentally and physically in a normal manner.

Research has shown that many of the types of dementia are a result of an abnormal build-up of proteins in the brain. The build-up of the proteins results in nerve cells decreasing in function and they eventually die which causes different areas of the brain to shrink resulting in memory loss, confusion and much more.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia and along with vascular dementia, they make up the greater part of dementia cases. There is still a lot of confusion and misconception about the differences between the two diseases.

Ongoing research has shown that Alzheimer’s disease is caused by the abnormal build-up of 2 proteins (amyloid and tau). Deposits of amyloid build up around the brain cells and deposits of tau form “tangles” within the brain cells. As the brain cells are affected, research has shown there is also a decrease in the chemical messengers which are called neurotransmitters. These are responsible for sending messages and signals between brain cells thus further impacting memory, brain function and much more.

Dementia can affect the way you speak, the way you think, feel and behave and it is a progressive disease that normally worsens over time.

The early signs of dementia include; loss of memory, forgetfulness and confusion. Many things and medicines can all affect your memory, however, if it continues for a while and you are over 55 and concerned you should talk to your doctor. A diagnosis often provides long-awaited and needed answers for worrying symptoms and the door for appropriate care, treatment and support for the individual and their loved ones.

Research has shown there are more than 850,000 people in the UK who have dementia and it is now becoming more well known, rather than people assuming its age-related symptoms. One in 14 people over the age of 65 have dementia and the condition affects 1 in 6 people over 80.

What medication is available for Dementia?

There are some medicines that can help and temporarily reduce the symptoms of dementia and these are often used alongside other occupational therapies.

The main medications used for Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, mixed dementia of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies include:

Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitors prevent enzymes from breaking down a substance called acetylcholine in the brain as well as supporting nerve cells to communicate.

Donepezil (also known as Aricept), Rivastigmine (Exelon) and Galantamine (Reminyl) are all medicines used to treat the mild to moderate symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Donepezil is mainly used to treat more severe symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Rivastigmine is often used if hallucinations symptoms are being experienced.

Memantine is also known as Namenda is prescribed to people with moderate or severe Alzheimer’s disease, dementia with Lewy bodies and those with a combination of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. It works by blocking the effects of an excessive amount of a glutamate chemical in the brain.

As dementia progresses people will often experience changes in mood, mood swings and often show challenging behaviour traits known as “behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD)”. The symptoms can include:

    • Rapid mood changes
    • Extreme agitation
    • Anxiety
    • Wandering
    • Confusion
    • Concentration
    • Aggression
    • Hallucinations

Bristol Care Homes Specialist Dementia Units are equipped and experienced to deal with all of these symptoms and we support our residents to use coping strategies and we use calming strategies to support them at these times as we understand it can be highly distressing for both them and their families.

There is a medication which is prescribed to treat and calm persistent challenging behaviour, distress and if there is a risk of them harming themselves or others including antipsychotic medicines (risperidone or haloperidol) but these are only ever offered for short periods of time and in extreme cases.

Antidepressants may be offered if it is suspected that depression is causing the anxiety.

What are the occupational therapies & treatments for Dementia?

Non-medical treatments are an important part of care for a person suffering from any form of dementia as well as the person that cares for them.

Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST) is a type of group activity that includes exercises designed to improve:

    • Short Term and Long Term Memory Loss
    • Problem-solving Skills
    • Language and Communication

CST can be really beneficial for people who are in the early stages of dementia with mild to moderate symptoms.

Cognitive Rehabilitation is working with an occupational therapist, alongside a relative or friend to support them to achieve an everyday task and personal goal, maybe getting dressed, choosing what to wear or using a mobile phone. This type of rehabilitation involves the person getting used to using the parts of their brain that are still working to support the parts that are no longer working. This can really help in the early stages of dementia and helps individuals to cope as the symptoms increase and worsen.

Reminiscence and life story work includes talking about important things and events from your past. It uses photos, important possessions, music and much more to support the brain to remember these important times in a person’s life from early childhood to the current time. It can often be very distressing for someone not to remember their wedding day or significant times in their life and evidence has shown it can improve mood and wellbeing and focus on positive achievements rather than the disease itself.

What are the symptoms of Dementia?

There are many symptoms associated with Dementia and they will often get worse as the disease progresses.

    • Memory loss – short and long term
    • Speed of thinking and clarifying
    • Mental sharpness and quickness
    • Language and communication difficulties
    • Understanding
    • Judgement and decision making
    • Difficulty with social interaction
    • Loss of understanding, compassion and empathy
    • Mood swings
    • Ability to concentrate
    • Physical movement
    • Disorientation in time and space
    • Problems with abstract thinking
    • Misplacing things
    • Difficulties with day to day activities
    • Lack of interest in themselves, their interests and with others around them
    • Challenging behaviour and in extreme cases, this can be where they are a risk to themselves or others around them. This is often very distressing for them and their loved ones after the event
    • Hallucinations

As dementia progresses it is extremely difficult for a person to maintain their independence and live without support from a loved one or a nursing home.

There is currently no cure for dementia, however, an early diagnosis can often mean its progression can be slowed down by using medication and occupational therapies. meaning the individual is able to maintain their mental and physical function for much longer. With the right treatment and support, there are many people in the UK who now lead active, and fulfilling lives for much longer than ever before.

Diagnosing Dementia

There isn’t one particular test to diagnose dementia but doctors will use a series of assessments including:

    • A review of own and families medical history
    • A physical examination
    • Assessment of any characteristic changes
    • Physical changes
    • Day-to-day function and behaviour assessment
    • Brain scan

A GP may diagnose dementia themselves or they may refer to a specialist dementia consultant if they feel there is a benefit.

The most common types of brain scans used for diagnosing dementia diseases are CT scans and MRI’s. Blood tests are often carried out as well, however, not to diagnose dementia but to rule out any other deficiencies or abnormalities.

You can find lots of useful information, advice from Dementia UK here:

Specialist Dementia CareWhat are the challenges of caring for someone with Dementia?

There are so many challenges of caring for someone with dementia and often the most difficult one is the personality change. Often people feel like they have lost the person they once knew and loved, as well as the behaviour changes that can come as the disease progresses.

A lot of patience and compassion is needed, as well as the support of the people around you, specialist units and support groups who will understand and can help you with strategies to overcome the challenges you are both facing.

As the disease progresses regular help from a carer or a specialist unit is often needed and this can give you as a carer some well-needed respite.

You may reach a time when your loved one will need 24/7 care in a nursing home that specialises in dementia care to maintain their and your safety and mental well being. This is an extremely difficult decision and Bristol Care Homes can support you when you reach this time.

As the disease progresses symptoms will worsen and there will be more and more difficulty in carrying out everyday tasks and living life in general without a lot of direction and support. Often people will know when it is time for their loved one to move into a specialist dementia nursing home like Bristol Care Homes.

It’s a good idea to talk to your spouse, partner, mum or dad in the early stages of dementia to find out what they would want and where they would want to go if they ever needed full-time care. It’s a very difficult conversation to have but much better to have it before you or anyone becomes unwell and it will give you peace of mind knowing what they want in this situation.

When the time comes, try and involve the person who you are considering the care for. They may not fully understand at the time but it’s better for them to know about any plans and be able to have their input, involving them is the right thing to do and it ensures they remain involved in the next stage of their life.

Always be positive about any changes or a move into a care setting, talk about the benefits it will have for them, giving them as much choice as possible, and ensure they feel that they still have some control in the decisions made. Also, reassure them that you and their loved ones will still be around.

Suffering from dementia severely impacts the way a person feels and experiences everything going on around them. As a carer, a friend or family you can help them feel valued and included by being very patient, sensitive to them as an individual, and focusing on their well being and meeting their needs which can change by the hour and Bristol Care Homes are experts at this.

As dementia progresses they can start to feel more and more confused if they can’t make sense of something, or if they don’t understand what is happening around them. This often results in them feeling frustrated and angry with themselves which can result in outbursts of emotions which can be very challenging and upsetting to them and their loved ones around them.

It is natural to feel a great deal of guilt when you are considering changing your care, so you will need support from family, friends, and professionals.

What should you look for in a Nursing Home when it comes to Specialist Dementia Care?

Dementia UK offers a huge amount of support, guidance and information when you are caring for someone with dementia so always have a look at the services and advice that they offer.

Considering and making a decision about a nursing home is a very personal thing. Call and arrange visits at the homes to get a feel for how they care for people and see for yourself whether you feel they would be happy there. Before you visit, read each care home’s Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection report to see in advance what they do well. Considerations can be:

    • Do the staff make you feel welcome?
    • Do they ask questions about their background and interests?
    • Is there a garden or activities, such as music therapy, that your relative would enjoy?
    • Do they mention care assessment?
    • Do they discuss their individual care needs?
    • Are they specialists in dementia care?
    • Do they have a specialist dementia care unit?
    • What is different about their dementia care?
    • What therapies do they use within the setting?

What are the aims of Bristol Care Homes Specialist Dementia Care Units?

The aim of our specialist dementia care at Bristol Care Homes is to ease the symptoms of the disease and support an individual to live their life in the best way they can and in the most calming way.

Our specialist dementia nurses are on hand 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and are there to support and relieve the symptoms of the disease. Our caring team has the knowledge and experience to be able to support the different dementia care treatment options available alongside your GP or specialist team and provide evolving care as the disease progresses. Our specialist on-site chefs can modify meals and snacks if swallowing becomes difficult.

Why Choose Bristol Care Homes for Specialist Dementia Care?

Bristol Care Homes Registered Care Categories with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) include:

    • Dementia
    • Old Age
    • Physical Disability
    • Sensory Impairment

Bristol Care Homes Specialist Care Categories

    • Alzheimer’s
    • Bariatric Care/Obesity
    • Cancer Care
    • Challenging Behaviour
    • Colitis & Crohn’s Disease
    • Head/Brain Injury
    • Hearing Impairment
    • Huntington’s Disease
    • Motor Neurone Disease
    • Multiple Sclerosis
    • Muscular Dystrophy
    • Orthopaedic
    • Parkinson’s Disease
    • Speech Impairment
    • Stroke
    • Visual Impairment

Other Care Provided

    • Convalescent Care
    • Day Care
    • Own GP if required
    • Palliative Care
    • Physiotherapy
    • Respite Care
    • Separate Specialist Dementia Care Unit

We understand that having or being diagnosed with any type of dementia can be extremely scary and unsettling for everyone and the Bristol Care Homes team are here to support and help you and your family to decide if full-time care is needed or if respite care is an option for you if you need a one-off or a regular break from caring for a loved one with dementia.

Our experienced nursing team will spend time with you to help you decide which of our homes is best suited to your needs and will support you through this difficult time and the decisions you need to make about care and the options available.

About Bristol Care Homes

We are a group of 4 high-quality nursing homes located in different locations around Bristol. Our team members are all committed to providing professional and compassionate care to all of our residents. Our primary aim is to provide excellence in all aspects of care for all of our residents. We are always looking to be creative and innovative in our services and we offer many features which will ensure you or your loved one maintains a high level of fulfilment and independence in their life.

    • Beautiful gardens with plenty of greenery, trees and flowers – often residents love to help out and potter in our gardens
    • Environmentally designed buildings with 24/7 air circulation always keeping the atmosphere fresh and airy whatever the weather
    • Different areas to socialise in
    • Communal dining rooms
    • Spacious bedrooms with increased ceiling height giving a sense of spaciousness
    • Wide corridors for easy access
    • Television, DVD Player and direct line telephones in each bedroom which gives everyone a feeling of their own space where they can go if they want to as well as keep in touch with their loved ones
    • Internet access across all of our homes
    • Customised top-of-the-range wheelchairs are provided when needed
    • Featuring cutting-edge technology in showers and baths
    • Minibus services with a regular schedule of trips
    • Maintenance and replacement cycles for new carpets and decorations
    • Delicious, nutritious and varied meals prepared by our highly qualified chefs
    • We offer a wide range of interesting and stimulating social activities for all our residents, including an animal therapy program
    • Warm, friendly, and caring staff that spends quality time with each resident to ensure they’re happy and at their best
    • Nurses on-site 24 hours a day, 365 days a year

If you are looking for Specialist Dementia Care in Bristol contact us today to find out how we can help you and your family.