It’s fair to say that most people don’t relish the idea that they might, one day, live in a care home. And if a person you love has dementia, you might find it a very upsetting thought too. Yet whilst care homes may remain an emotive subject for many people on the dementia journey, there’s also a lot of myths and ignorance surrounding them.

Here’s 6 reasons to visit a care home on Saturday (which also happens to be the Queen’s 92nd birthday!)

You’ll receive a warm welcome
Care Home Open Day is now in its sixth year and this year’s theme is all about linking communities. Homes nationwide have been preparing for the open day for some time and will be ready to receive visitors. Many are also providing music, entertainment and refreshments to ensure visitors feel really welcome. Visit http://www.carehomeopenday.org.uk/care-home and enter your postcode to find a care home near you that’s taking part.

You might be pleasantly surprised
Many people dread the idea of a care home…without ever having visited one.  Whilst bad care homes tend to receive a lot of bad press (and rightly so) there are an awful lot more good care homes than bad. Of course, those taking part in this nationwide open day are clearly proud of what they do, so if you go along with an open mind you could be impressed by the positive things you see.

You can meet the staff
Care homes in every community are run by ‘special people who really do care,’ according to the organisers of National Care Home Open Day. But you don’t have to take their word for it. Observe the carers at work and see how they interact with residents. Many work tirelessly for long hours and low wages and deserve recognition for the important impact they can have on someone’s life. Feel free to ask them questions too.

…and the residents
Many care home residents feel cut off from their local community and being involved in a special event can brighten up their day. The person you care about may still be living independently, and may continue to for a long time, but it could be heartening to see someone whose condition is more advanced still enjoying themselves and being well cared for.

It could make you think differently
Be honest. How many times have you gone passed a local care home without even noticing it, let alone contemplating going inside? But now that you have visited one, perhaps you’ll understand the importance of local community involvement. Most care homes recognise the difference that visitors from the local community can make to residents’ lives and are keen to encourage links with volunteers and community groups.

It could help you in the future
You may be determined to care for your loved one with dementia at home but at some point, you may still need occasional help from a care home, even if it’s just for a few days respite care. So even if you are just beginning the dementia journey there’s no harm in looking around. In fact, it might be quite useful to see the sort of care that might be available if you were to ever need it.