All of us like to keep busy and engaged in everyday life, and that’s the same whether we’re six or 76. When an older person is busy doing the things they enjoy in a supportive environment, they’re calm and happy. This is particularly important if a person is living with dementia, to help minimise feelings of anxiety and distress.
At Care UK, our core purpose is to enable residents to live ‘Fulfilling lives’. When a new resident moves into one of our homes, we get to know everything we can about them so that we can support them to continue doing the things they love, and even try something new, so they can enjoy life to the full.
Getting to know you
Every resident has a life story book, which we put together with them and their family. As well as detailing everything about the life they’ve lived, it also captures the events and activities they enjoy in the home – because we believe there are lots of memories still to be made – as well as their aims and wishes for the future.
When we know what interests a resident, we then set about organising group and one-to-one activities that will bring them pleasure, meaning and joy. Our lifestyle teams organise a full weekly programme of activities, outings and entertainment, from visits from therapy animals to gardening, art sessions and gentle exercise.
There’s so much to do that relatives ask for a copy of the programme, so they can time their visits to avoid clashes with their loved one’s social life!
Some homes have facebook pages, so you can see what residents get up to by following the page.
Fit and well
Speaking of exercise, all our homes run Revitalyz seated exercise sessions to support residents to maintain their mobility and strength. Some homes go further – at Field Lodge in St Ives in Cambridgeshire, residents also do high intensity exercise classes and have even been to the gym. At Mowat Court in Aberdeenshire residents regularly go swimming at the local baths and one gentleman is about to do a sponsored walk.
Each home’s lifestyle programme will be unique to that home because it will reflect the needs and interests of residents. Not everything will appeal to everyone, and for those who prefer individual time with a member of our team (or are being nursed in bed), there’s always the opportunity for one-to-one time. At Ponteland Manor, in Northumbria, residents who are being nursed in bed find joy from one to one performances by visiting entertainers.
Out and about
Most of our homes have their own minibus, or regular access to one, so residents enjoy day trips to places of interest, or shorter trips to the shops, to a garden centre or to a pub for lunch. However, Sherwood Grange (in south London) and The Potteries (in Poole) have enabled some of their residents to enjoy a holiday ‘swap’ to the other home.
We support residents to live as independently as possible, attending their church in the community, or seeing friends at the Rotary or Probus club.
We also love welcoming members of the community into our homes, and many Care UK homes have great relationships with their local nursery, primary and secondary schools, as well as charities and businesses in their communities. Activities with children are a big hit with residents, particularly for those who may live some distance from their own families or have few young family members.
Taking on a task
Residents play a part in how their home is run. As well as regular residents’ and relatives’ meetings, many of our homes have resident ambassadors, who act as the voice of the home’s residents in the day-to-day running of the home, helping to recruit new team members and chairing resident meetings.
Other residents enjoy feeling valued and keeping busy by supporting our colleagues, whether it’s helping the housekeeping team with dusting and tidying, supporting our maintenance colleagues with testing fire alarms or putting up pictures, or peeling the vegetables for lunch.
Visit a Care UK home and you’ll often find a friendly cat or dog will greet you. At Clara Court in Maidenhead it’ll be Bentley, the home’s cat. At Mildenhall Lodge it will be Sinbad the lurcher. And if you visit Broadwater Lodge near Godalming you’ll find a whole farmyard, with everything from a miniature pony to pigs, goats and chickens! Residents love helping to care for the animals, and may have a regular ‘job’ where they feed, groom or walk the home pet.
Creating a home from home
Homes often adapt their communal spaces to suit residents’ interests and needs. This is particularly the case on the dementia suites where you’ll find areas themed to look like a laundry, a 1950s kitchen, a child’s nursery or an office. These spaces are designed to enable residents who are living with dementia to enjoy meaningful occupation, doing familiar tasks and recalling long-forgotten memories. Engaging in this sort of activity whenever they wish has been shown to calm and reassure residents who are living with dementia.
Making wishes come true
Moving into a care home is not the end, it’s purely another chapter in a person’s life. An older person still has aims and goals for their life, and our teams find out what residents would like to achieve. Then we go about making this wish happen. We’ve enabled residents across our homes to fly planes, go to watch their favourite football team, ride horses, visit Paris and even be reunited with relatives they haven’t seen for a long time.
If you are caring for an older loved one, and are keen to get some fresh inspiration about activities you can do with them, download our ‘Easy as ABC’ guide, with lots of tips and advice on ways to help your loved one live each day to the full.