Date Revised:

This is part of the Carers Road Map online guide for anyone who cares for someone with dementia and wants to consider residential care.

Planning or considering residential care 

Choosing residential care for the person you care for can be a difficult decision. You may have mixed emotions about the move, which can include feelings of relief and guilt and this is normal. It is important to remember that as a carer you have been taking on the role of many professionals, often for a long period of time. While this experience can be rewarding it can also be exhausting. 
You may have reached a point when caring becomes overwhelming, and either your own health or that of the person you care for is at risk if you continue to care for them at home. A move to residential care does not mean the end of your role as a carer but does mean a change. Many carers choose to visit the person they care for once they are in residential care regularly and continue to give social, emotional and practical support.
Carers of people with dementia often find they start considering residential care at particular stages. These are when the person with dementia is no longer safe at home, when behavioural changes are too difficult to manage, or the person they care for becomes incontinent. Getting help and support around these issues early may help you continue to care at home for longer. If you are struggling to manage get in touch with your GP or local carer service, they will be able to advice about extra support.

Planning residential care options 

It is really important to look into the availability of different residential care options and their cost at an early stage. It is much better if the person with dementia can be involved in decisions about their future care. It is not easy, but it is important to have these conversations early on in the diagnosis while the person with dementia still has capacity to contribute. 
Most residential care homes welcome visitors, and may have open events for the community, so take your time and have a look around. Staff will be happy to answer any questions about the care home, you can also look online or contact the Care Quality Commission (CQC) for more information. Making enquiries early can give you and the person you care for time to consider what will best meet both your needs. Preparing early can prevent a crisis and relieve the pressure surrounding any difficult decisions in the future. 
For carers of people with rare types of dementia and/or young onset dementia, finding an appropriate residential home can be particularly difficult and it is quite possible there will be no local provision. Therefore, it is important to look for UK as well as local information at an early stage.

Also see out getting a break section.

Paying for residential care  

Carers are often concerned about the cost of paying for care but it is not the responsibility of the carer to pay for any costs incurred. If the person you care for has been assessed as needing care, they will also be assessed to see how much they can afford to pay towards the cost. They will then pay according to their income and assets. This means they may:

  • Pay all their costs (self-funders).
  • Make a contribution towards the cost, with the local authority also contributing. 
  • Have all their care funded by the local authority. 
  • Have all or part of their care funded by the NHS. 

The regulation around paying for care is complex. You can get information and advice from your local carers service or dementia service or online. 


  • Plan for possible future care needs early.
  • Find out about local provision and cost of care.
  • Visit local residential homes and ask questions.
  • In certain circumstances care cost are met by the NHS.

Next in the Carers Road Map guide: End of life care