Back to accessibility links

Better health for people living
with dementia

Transition to residential aged care facility

In the later stages of dementia most people will require total care.

Whether this care is provided at home or in a residential care facility will depend on the person, the carer, the family and their situation.

For people who live alone, the move to residential care may come sooner than for those who live with family. The timing may also be influenced by the presence of comorbidities. For many people, the move is rushed as it follows a crisis at home or an admission to hospital. This can increase the stress and distress for all involved.

Moving into residential care is a time of upheaval for the person living with dementia, their carers and family. Adjustment to residential care is more than a discrete event (10). It begins with thinking about and planning the move, and continues with the actual move into care and beyond as people settle in and adjust to change.

People going through this major transition do better when given holistic support. Health professionals working in aged care assessment teams, community services, aged care facilities, hospitals and health care can provide information, explore options, assist with practical tasks and provide emotional support.

Practice points

Dementia advisors and social workers:

  • start discussions with a person living with dementia and their carers and families about plans for the future
  • provide information about the processes, such as forms, finances and assessments, involved in a move to residential aged care
  • link people to local services, such as Centrelink and aged care facilities
  • link people to emotional support.

Occupational therapists:

  • can advise on what is needed to enable the person to be maintained at home, including equipment and services to assist
  • provide support and guidance for the carer in the safe, functional use of equipment and devices.

Counsellors, psychologists and social workers:

  • provide support and counselling to enable carers to talk through their many feelings, including loss and grief.