Care home ‘is’ a community
It’s been said that the care home is a curious hybrid: called a home, but not like the homes we all live in normally.
A person-centred approach to managing the home will make it homely in all the ways that promote independence, support self-respect and wellbeing, and ensure the dignity of every individual. This means, above all, that you must know what your residents want from their daily lives, and the extent to which you are supporting it.
At the same time, the home is a community of individuals who can derive support from knowing each other. As in any community, people will have very varied interests and skills. Encourage people to maintain, or recover their personal preferences by offering a wide range of services.
- LEAF 7, originally developed by Age UK Wakefield is a simple but very reliable tool for measuring the quality of life in vulnerable older adults.
- Age UK is also promoting a filmed diary programme, called Pull up a Chair for people living in care homes. Talking to the camera, people are encouraged to explore the extent to which their wellbeing is supported by their home.
Checklist for owners and managers
Know your residents:
- Talk to residents, their families and friends, and find out what parts of their personal histories are important to them and their sense of identity, and how they see themselves.
- Encourage people to maintain old contacts and interests.
- Support people to make the home their home, with photos, furnishings, books.
- Encourage people who can continue to take on normal domestic tasks to do so – make a cup of tea, lay the table.
- Get to know what your residents can do, and hope to do, and expand the opportunities you offer to them.
- Find out what new services local community groups can offer, to add to the options available.
All the staff can make a difference:
- Housekeeping staff can keep the environment fresh, clean and welcoming, and reflecting individual preferences.
- Mealtimes should be a social event, as well as providing appetising, nutritious food.
- Nursing and care staff should be careful to keep hoists, wheelchairs or other heavy or obviously surgical equipment as unobtrusive as possible.
- The arrangement of common rooms for dining or sitting should allow for normal social groups to develop, and for a range of tastes.
- Personalisation involves meticulous attention to detail in the service you offer.