I remember talking to one of our prospective residents at one of our care homes telling me about her “life of ever decreasing boxes” as she put it.
From a large family property to a downsized house once her children had left home, then to a small warden controlled flat and now to one room in a care home. The prospect was not an attractive one – she then mentioned her final box as she departed for where ever we go next! Whilst she was not sad about this it did carry some pathos and one we care home owners must heed in how it feels to come into 24/7 care, ‘when the time is right’, as I am prone to say.
We have just marked National Dignity Day on the 1st February in our homes with some really relevant, entertaining and powerful points being made by residents, staff and visitors. The words mentioned in our conversations included Choice, Privacy, Respect, Rights, Control and Empowerment, and all of these we feel can be regarded as key messages underpinning how we ensure that the ‘inner sanctum’ of a residents bedroom looks and feels just right for the person moving in.
I believe it is one example of how partnerships between the person moving in, their families and their loved ones working with us must combine wants and needs to create a familiar, safe and idiosyncratic expression of who they are with perhaps treasured memories and possessions. We will always encourage people to bring special items of furniture (if space permits), photographs and ornaments too. Colour and clutter we like, with a principle of being age appropriate as well as risk free being considerations of course.
The point about space can be an issue; in our older homes we don’t have standardised room sizes – we will always argue that homely homes need character and without these variations we teeter on institutionalised care in purpose built units often designed for upward of 60 residents – which I will always be sceptical in terms of how homely these industrial style care settings can be. The balance between what a person is used to needs in later life may also need special consideration. The combination of homely versus perhaps a swish hotel like environment and the impact these can have on comfort and atmosphere is also important to discuss. We will always aspire to balance appropriate expectations with the views of others, crucially to get their new home right for the person now living with us.
When a person is coming into a care home to live we want to see it as just that – a place to live.
Some of our folk prefer to spend lots of time in their room watching TV, reading, doing puzzles, resting, or entertaining as many do – others will leave their bedroom early in the morning and return late at night after a day spent in communal areas busying in a more social way. You may see some rather spartan rooms as much as those full of reminiscent relics of a full and adventurous lives. Much of this will come down to how able families are to help provide content for their loved ones. Our part is to do all we can to encourage personalised rooms befitting the person staying with us. We must also recognise changing needs including how we store essential items like creams, toiletries and, for many, personal care items such as continence pads for those that need them – dignity must always be protected – we must also take account of mobility aids and potential needs changing such as when a high low bed may be required for assistance getting in and out of bed if a person becomes less able.
Overall the transition from a person’s own private home to a shared environment of a care home has a huge emotional impact on all involved.
Moving to a care home is often an unplanned event following a hospital admission or after health care decline or event. Older people should be open to this possibility, we would claim, and families too. Moving into a dynamic, progressive, safe and fun care home when the time is right is something should be something we look forward to!
Many thanks to George Coxon, Care Home Owner – Pottles Court and Summercourt, Devon.
Hallmark Care Homes told us about their Christmas Lucky Star competition which encourages residents to make a wish for the coming year, write it on a star and place it on the Christmas tree. It helps to plan for community engagement and promotes positive relationships in the homes.
We ask each resident if there is anything they would like as a gift from us in the New Year or if there is anything they would like to do as an activity inside or outside of the home or with their family? We also have a nominated fairy godmother from each home who will dress up and gather the wishes.
We want to give the opportunity to all of our residents to make a wish, but also understand that not every resident will want to make a wish and not every resident can vocalise their wish. We include our resident’s families to determine what it is they may like and look over their past history and hobbies. This is something we did at Admiral Court, our care home in Leigh on Sea last year. We hosted a classic car show at the home after learning from the care team that the resident used to own three supercars when he was younger. The classic car show was attended by over 100 people, funds raised on the day were donated to charity and the resident was brought to tears upon seeing the Ferrari California and Rolls Royce, which we brought into the home’s car park.
Lucky Star has had a tremendous impact on our residents with lots of tears of happiness and laughter shared. The relatives have also been extremely grateful, joining in with the planned activities which has enhanced our relationships with them.
Wishes fulfilled last year included:
Reuniting a resident with his teenage sweetheart after 20 years apart. Taking a resident to the Ritz with her family by limousine so she could celebrate her 95th birthday and taking a resident to watch Peter Andre in concert and meeting him after the show.
Smaller wishes granted included giving a bouquet of flowers to a resident’s wife who visits him in the home every day, and taking a resident to the local garden centre for afternoon tea.
Thank you to Verity Prentice, Hallmark Care Homes for sharing this lovely idea for collecting residents wishes for 2017! http://www.hallmarkcarehomes.co.uk/
“As I’ve been going through the My Home Life Leadership Support programme I’ve been looking at how we can be doing more to share decision making in our care home.
We’ve already tried a few different things in the past, like asking the residents to pick the design for the invitation card we made for Care Home Open Day.
We love the idea of a decision tree so we arranged to have one painted in our main hallway – right opposite where residents get their hair and nails done so it was a talking point straight away. It’s great to see the opinions build over time. We used to just ask people face to face about things but this way the residents can see where a decision came from.< --!more-->
We usually leave the voting open for quite a while – sometimes people aren’t in the mood to make a decision, or aren’t well for a while and there’s no pressure for people to make a decision if they don’t want to. Our staff have also been talking about different ways we can use the tree – we’ve got our cook asking to use it to hear about what kind of special Christmas food our residents would like. Continue Reading