Professional Comment

Breaking the Stigmas Surrounding Care Home Environments

By James Rycroft, Managing Director at Vida Healthcare (

Families placing a loved one in a care home often have many fears and trepidations about doing so – a recent study by the UK’s leading provider of dementia care, Vida Healthcare, has revealed that a fifth (20 percent) of adults surveyed said their perceptions of care homes were negative.

This is due to the many myths and preconceptions about care homes that position them as unwelcoming and isolating environments.
Vida Healthcare is dedicated to dispelling the stigmas surrounding care homes in the UK. The team is passionate about challenging and changing perceptions of care homes, and wants to highlight how engaging with a care home can be hugely beneficial for both potential residents and their loved ones, particularly if the person requiring the support of a care home is living with dementia.

Here James Rycroft discusses and dispels five of the most common misconceptions surrounding care homes.

Care homes are for those with medical needs or nearing end-of-life?
Care homes are often associated with people who have severe illnesses or nearing the end of their lives. This is partly due to the fact that many people don’t know what different levels of care are available in care homes, or what the variations of care involve.

A recent survey conducted by Vida revealed that almost a quarter (23 percent) of UK adults aren’t confident that they know what residential care is, 24 percent aren’t sure what nursing care is, more than a quarter (28 percent) aren’t confident they know what dementia care is, while almost a third (31 percent) don’t know what social care or respite care involve.

This lack of understanding around the different levels of care available has led to a sector-wide misconception that care homes solely cater for people who have significant care needs, but this isn’t the case. While many care homes do cater for that level of need and assistance, this is not the only type of care they provide.

Residential care, for example, refers to the general care provided in a non-nurse-led environment, where residents do not require continuous clinical oversight, but will still receive support from primary services when needed for both physical, mental and emotional well-being. Nursing care, meanwhile, becomes essential when an individual’s needs require continuous clinical monitoring.

Many residents chose to move into care homes whilst they are still independent and able, choosing to move in for peace of mind, safety, extra help and company. Whilst living in a care home, residents will be supported to help maintain their independence for as long as possible.

Care homes are clinical and unwelcoming?
Historically care homes have been perceived to be cold, clinical and depressing places that have a particular odour and aren’t particularly inviting. Nowadays, this is far from the case!

Many care homes are warm and attractive environments that provide residents with a sense of safety and calm. Care teams encourage residents to bring their own home comforts, family photos and familiar items to create a more homely atmosphere.

At Vida Healthcare, all homes are purpose-built and feature homely interiors with facilities that encourage community involvement and interaction amongst residents.

Everyone is invited to personalise their rooms to make them more familiar spaces, while the communal areas feature decor designed to create a sense of familiarity for residents, encouraging them to engage and share stories with one another.

Some of our communal areas have been designed to support social interactions and ensure Vida’s residents have a high quality of life. At Vida Court, for example, we have a cinema, florist, coffee shop, sweet shop, landscaped gardens and sensory destinations amongst other things.

What’s more, the Vida team supports its residents in remaining involved in community life, including taking trips to local parks, farms, gardens, cafes, libraries, local events and groups and places of worship.

Care home food is not tasty or nutritious?
While there may have been instances in the past where care home food was not up to standard, care homes today provide highly-tailored, seasonal menus featuring nutritious food for residents to enjoy, in order to support their health and wellbeing.

At Vida Healthcare the menus are nutritious and balanced, designed with residents’ nutritional needs and special dietary requirements in mind. Inspired by different countries and cultures, the majority of the food served is made fresh on site.

It’s important to remember that no two residents are the same and the head chefs at Vida work closely with team leaders and care staff to tailor menus to every resident’s individual needs.

Residents just sit around all day in a circle?
It is a common misconception that residents don’t do anything in care homes and, instead, either sit around in a circle and watch TV or simply sleep the day away.

Of course, if a resident wants to watch TV then they are more than welcome to do so, however, a varied programme of activities is an essential part of a care home’s life. Tea parties, games, exercise classes and trips out are just a few activities that residents can take part in.

Maintaining a normal daily routine for residents is of paramount importance – simple activities like getting dressed in the morning, washing, going for a walk, setting the table for dinner and getting ready for bed all form patterns and routines within daily life that will help create a sense of familiarity for residents.

We know that access to the outside world is incredibly important and living in a care home shouldn’t compromise this. Vida’s three care homes feature sensory courtyards and gardens which are both calm and peaceful.

Designed by Dr Garuth Chalfont, a leading expert in the creation of care environments for older people living with dementia, Vida’s gardens connect the internal to the external, encouraging residents to maintain the health and well being created by spending time outdoors.

People get mistreated in care homes?
While there have been well documented instances of unacceptable levels of care within care homes, these are very much the minority and there are also many positive stories and experiences of those residing in care homes that aren’t as likely to be covered by the media.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has a thorough and robust regulation process and monitors all aspects of care delivery closely, including identifying safeguarding concerns, effective recruitment and training to ensure a strong culture of respect for residents is at the heart of good care homes.

Vida’s commitment to investing in creating better care for people living with dementia has led to all three of the company’s care homes being rated as Outstanding by the CQC, becoming the only Outstanding rated specialist dementia care provider in the District of Harrogate.

Every person who is residing at Vida Healthcare will receive high quality dementia care. Individuals living with dementia are going through a very personal journey, each of which is unique and different from the next, while their family and friends are also navigating their own passage through their loved ones’ dementia diagnosis. The Vida team is committed to delivering the highest quality, person-centred care, while also offering wider support to family members.

For more information on the leading care available to people living with dementia at Vida Healthcare, please visit