Living, loving, laughing, learning
“One person caring about another represents life’s greatest value”
What I would like in a care home
How would we want a care home to be for us?
This is a fundamental question. How can a care home help its inhabitants to continue to live full and rich lives. This is a question of respect. They can only have self respect if they are respected by the carers. The carers need to cater for emotional as well as physical needs. It should be about quality of life. No good keeping people alive just for the sake of it- they need to have quality. We need to break down stereotypes and the inhabitants need opportunities to be givers as well as receivers. Currently they are passive receivers. Units need to be smaller and the elderly need to be encouraged to take care of each other and be more self-reliant. So we need mixed homes where there is a variety of needs. Older people need to carry on doing more of what they have been doing but enabled by more assistance from carers and volunteers. They need opportunities to carry on developing.
They need stimulus of :-
Trips out – visits to beautiful places such as picnics, galleries and shopping.
Fresh air and outdoor activities – Exercise very important for health and well being. So they need opportunities to go swimming, walking etc.
Visiting staff to offer aerobic exercise, Alexander technique, massage etc.
Opportunities to be creative – Dance, theatre, art classes, singing groups , music making, gardening,
They need to be involved in Festivals and celebrations
A good care home is where older people have opportunities to give to each other and to the wider community. The elderly are seen as a source of skills, wisdom, experience. They have opportunities to meet younger people e.g. there are links with schools e.g. attending lessons, offering help to students with reading etc, offering experience gained through their own careers, jobs. They are invited to schools for history lessons and so making the lessons come alive. It is possible to have meals with students in school. There are schemes where students and elderly work communally on projects e.g. gardening, cooking, art work.
There is liaison with Age Concern re volunteers for particular activities, drivers etc.
There are schemes whereby befrienders come in to do certain activities or to befriend one particular person who has few contacts with family and friends.
The care home is a part of the community. It is less institutional and more homely, e.g. pets are welcome. The elderly play an active role in the care home e.g. helping with cooking /cleaning/ gardening.
They help with making their own rooms more personal, e.g. have own pictures, photos, flowers etc.
They have more choices of food at meal times, making it more like a family meal table.
The care home has a beautiful garden with sheltered places to sit, full of colour and smell, and things of interest.
The carers know the background of an individual inhabitant so that they can really communicate with each other well.
by Jeanni Barlow
Together creating truly great care for older people