How to make the most of mealtimes in care homes.
In our new bulletin we talk about food – everyones favourite subject. But, it is not just the food that makes mealtimes enjoyable. We asked care homes around the UK for their best practice tips for when it comes to creating a social mealtime, increasing appetites and involving residents, relatives and staff in decision making.
ALIVE IN ME – By Tudor Evans, Hengoed Park
I can still hear her singing
in her high, clear voice
humming around our house
two streets from the colliery,
riddling the ashes
from the stove in the scullery.
I can still feel his strong arms around me,
carrying me to the mine
to lie by the huge fan, 28 feet tall,
the lungs of the pit,
to cure my whooping cough.
My Mother, my father,
They’re alive in me.
I see her young,
glossy hair marcel-waved,
in her yellow twin set with the nipped-in waist,
laughing, joy blazing out
like a firework flaring
I remember him at my bedside
His big hands placing the candles,
To drive my nightmares away.
Still keeping me safe, they’re alive in me.
Writing ‘Alive in Me.’
Deb Llewellyn, creative writer, told us about how she worked with Tudor to create the poem ‘Alive in me.’
“For the last two years I have worked as a Writer in Residence for Age Cymru, in two care homes in the Swansea Valley. I listen to the residents and work collaboratively with them to form their words into poems – sometimes based on stories and memories, sometimes in response to stimuli such as paintings, photographs and objects.
It was in Hengoed Court, Swansea that I met Tudor Evans, and it was a privilege to write this poem with him. We wrote it over the course of several individual sessions. Tudor shared his memories with me of growing up in the mining town of Grovesend near Pontarddulais. His father was a miner and we spoke at length about his work.
As a young boy, Tudor caught whooping cough and his parents feared for his life. One night Tudor was struggling for breath, and in desperation, his father carried him to the enormous fan which circulated air throughout the pit. He believed that being in this strong air current would allow Tudor to breathe. It worked, and Tudor recovered. The vivid childhood memories that Tudor has of his parents form the core of this poem. Writing it was his act of tribute to them.”
What makes a good care home?
Mum never wanted to go into a care home; she used to say “they are all full of old people sitting around sleeping.” She based this on her visits to ‘old people’s homes’ when she used to entertain them as a member of her local church club choir – when she was in her eighties!
Her memory was deteriorating, and it was becoming more obvious that despite the home care she was receiving in addition to the many hours of family care, this was not enough to keep her well and safe at home.
We found a lovely care home. I was given a ‘fob’ to open the front door and I was told this is your Mum’s home, so come and go as you please; just visit her like you did before.
Mum was so happy, she had her own room, personalised with photographs and memorabilia, she had her own TV and her daily newspaper delivered.
She went out in the minibus, she enjoyed activities, she had her hair done, and her feet! She was also able to attend a church services on Sunday which was very important to her. There was such a friendly relaxed atmosphere, no set meal times or routines, everything revolved around how people were and what they wanted to do and at what time. Person-centred care at its very best. Mum enjoyed many impromptu sing-a-longs, and an old film on TV or making cakes, which were then eaten for tea. She loved hats and beads and would select a hat and beads from the coat stand in the corridor whenever she passed by I never knew what she would be wearing on her head when I visited!
The wonderful staff knew Mum so well, her likes, dislikes and little foibles; they treated her with compassion, devotion and humour.
There were phone calls on days when Mum was having a really good day, very bright and alert and staff wanted me to know so that I could visit her and enjoy this.
So many things that made a difference; when Mum went off her food, a carer went out and bought a variety of snacks which were then left for her to eat at will and when Mum returned from hospital following a fall, carers were able to rehabilitate her and get her walking again where the hospital had failed.
At the end of her life Mum became weak, spending much of the time asleep. During that time she was never alone, and everything was done to keep her comfortable. The last days of her life were calm and serene; she was cared for by carers who knew and loved her and this gave me great comfort.
Many thanks to Marianne Manser for sharing her story.
“I have had a lived experience of a Northern Irish care home doing really, really well in the dying process.”
A story from Slieve na Mon Nursing Home in Northern Ireland has been featured by the BBC – telling a tale of a family being supported through their father’s death.
The item, from a care home whose manager recently completed the My Home Life Leadership Support programme, tells the story of the McHugh family.
We’re delighted to see such a wonderful story in the press about the brilliant end of life care provided by the nursing home – not only for Mr McHugh himself, but for his whole family. It’s a testament to them that the family felt so moved they wanted to share their story with the world.
You can hear the interview on BBC Radio Ulster.
And read ‘How can we wake our father in a nursing home?’ on the BBC News website.
Read below for the first in a new series of monthly updates from the My Home Life team, sharing top tips and ideas from care homes across the country. If you’ve got some top tips you’d like to share with others in the sector, do get in touch – we’re on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0207 040 0260.
Our vision is a world where all care homes for older people are great places to live, die, visit and work
Welcome to the first of our new monthly updates, sharing the great work that care homes are doing and other top tips.
Wittersham is home for up to 15 residents with a dementia based within West View Integrated Care Centre in Tenterden. Read Cheryl’s inspiring story of creating a pub in their home!
One of our members of staff felt that our unit needed a space for our service users to reminisce and have a meeting place to socialise with others. She discussed transforming our quiet lounge that was rarely used into an authentic pub as this would have been the local residents meeting place in the past.
This story was kindly sent in by Maura Horan, Director of Nursing, Mowlam Healthcare
We are a 54 bedded Private Nursing Home on the west coast of Ireland and located just 8 miles from Galway City. The scene was set. The day had come and a democratic decision was made to get the home its first egg producing hens and save some poor birds from their otherwise short life to the pot.
The Old Vicarage Care Home in Dorset (the home filmed for the ‘Keeping Workplace Fit for Purpose’ segment of the My Home Life film project), has picked up an honour at The Great British Care Home Awards. Jan Millward was awarded Care Home Activity Organiser of the Year.