UK families sending relatives with dementia to Thailand for aged care

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Researchers visiting private care homes in Chiang Mai have found eight care homes where UK residents have been sent by their families – because suitable care in the UK was impossible to find or afford, The Guardian reports.

There are around 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK. Local authority residential care costs up to £700 (AU$1,324) a week, with private care about £1,000 (AU$1,891).

While the UK doesn’t have official staff-to-resident ratios, state and private facilities are close to 1:6.

Compare this to Thailand where 1:1 around-the-clock residential care with fully-qualified staff – in award-winning facilities that are closer to four-star hotels – costs around £750 (AU$1,418) a week. Some homes have three to four staff for every resident.

The facilities ownership varies from British, Swiss and Thai with substantial investment from the UK, but all have the support of the Thai government.

“The government and private investors are very active in cultivating this as part of their economic development,” Dr Caleb Johnston, a senior lecturer in human geography at Newcastle University said.

UK entrepreneur Peter Brown moved to Thailand from the UK and opened a four-star hotel resort in Chiang Mai 11 years ago. He founded the Care Resort Chiang Mai six years ago, after becoming unhappy with the quality of care his mother was receiving in her British aged care home.