Greensleeves Care’s Admiral Nurse, Steve Mason, discusses the importance of friends and family members becoming part of the ‘care home community’ when their loved ones move into a care home.
The idea of a care home providing a sense of community is one that is born out of the move towards person-centred care; encouraging family and friends to treat their loved one’s care home like an extension of their own home, where they are welcome anytime and are invited to participate in their loved one’s care. This ensures that the people who matter to care home residents are just as much a part of their lives as before they moved to the home, which is beneficial for both parties.
Even when moving into a care home is a completely positive choice, it can still be overwhelming for an older person to adapt to such a change. Ensuring that there are as many ‘constants’ as possible during this time can help to ease the transition, particularly if the person is living with dementia.
Establishing a ‘community’ culture in care homes is beneficial to the residents, their families, and even staff. Through fostering trusting relationships with residents’ family members, support staff are able to gain further insight into the resident’s life history, preferences and routines, which enables care plans to stay person-centred.
“We should respect how, in most cases, families and friends have so much more knowledge and experience of their loved one’s lives than we do as care professionals. Our number one priority is that a resident should receive the best care possible, which I believe is much better achieved through a collaborative approach with the people who matter most to a resident.”
Having a loved one move into a care home can be an emotional time for family members, even if the move was undoubtedly the right decision. This is especially true for those who were providing care to their loved one for a number of years prior to their move. Ensuring that family members feel welcome to participate in life at the care home, especially in the first few days and weeks, can help ease feelings of anxiety.
“In Greensleeves Care homes, we have a large amount of family volunteers who will do anything from chatting to residents (not just their own family member), making cups of tea, or even facilitating an activity, benefiting both themselves and the residents.
In one of our homes, a resident’s wife was helping with a gardening project. Sadly, this resident passed away, but his wife wished to continue volunteering as she had befriended other residents and staff in the home. The project also enabled her to stay connected to others during such a difficult time.”
Ensuring that family and friends are as involved as possible within the community of the care home creates a vibrant, inclusive care home environment where residents’ wishes are respected, staff can do their jobs to the best of their abilities and family members can continue to be a key part of residents’ lives.