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17th July 2017

What a sing-along reveals about untapped assets in care homes

Suddenly, Maria got up and started dancing. It was Care Home Open Day – 16 June – and I’d been invited along to Norton House in London to see what folks were up to. The day is all about care homes flinging open their doors so that they connect with local communities. And I was asked along to a singalong.

The thing about Maria is that, despite living in a care home, she still has something to give. She’s still an asset for the home. It wouldn’t have been half the event it was if she didn’t dance and it’s clear that she’s danced throughout her life. Others joined in with the singalong, grabbing the microphone when it was their turn. And I overheard another resident say that she used to be a researcher. So, these residents have assets that can contribute to lives being improved.

This is all important stuff because evidence suggests that the well-being of residents – and their safety – can increase when the outside world is involved in a care home; when there’s a symbiotic relationship between residents, relatives, staff and the local community.

We’ve worked with one care home group and have invited the council, NHS, volunteers and other community organisations to meet residents and staff. We conducted an inventory of the skills and assets that exist in one of the care homes. From this, we were able to see how services in all of the group’s care homes can be improved.

Staff play a crucial role here. On Care Home Open Day I saw staff being passionate about the care and support they offer; they care about the residents because they know the residents. It’s simplistic to say that providing personalisation in a care home is just about being nice, but it’s a good start.

So Maria got everyone dancing – her asset was to encourage others. I entertained folks with an Elvis number, ‘Suspicious Minds’. That seemed to sum up what they thought of my singing. But my concern is that the Marias living and contributing in care homes aren’t always recognised. We must release this untapped potential.

SCIE’s strength-based approaches work for the Care Act 2014

*All information is correct at the time of publishing

Topics: SCIE

Tony Hunter

Chief Executive, SCIE

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