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Are the staff happy? Top ten indicators for choosing an ‘active’ care home
I am of an age when friends and acquaintances around me are talking about choosing care settings for a loved one. I visit lots of care settings during the course of my work and, as a result, I sometimes get asked for advice. This got me thinking about what I would advise people to look for specifically around activity provision. So these are my top ten:
- Are the staff happy? This may not seem the most obvious one but if the staff are relaxed and happy they are more likely to have animated conservations with the residents. Residents report that the thing they miss most is a good conversation.
- Are residents seen moving about the building? This may vary with the time of day but an active home will encourage and motivate residents to move about and not spend all of their time in one place.
- Are mealtimes full of chat and laughter? In our culture, we socialise over food and drink. Dining rooms should encourage conversation with interesting items or artwork on display. If music is used it should not be so intrusive that it stops people from talking.
- Are the outdoor spaces inviting? There should be plenty of doors that the residents can access without assistance to go outside when they want to. Is the outside space secure so that residents feel safe when they are outdoors? Garden furniture should be robust and thoughtfully positioned.
- Is their information available that shows what groups or clubs are run in the home? Information should be in a format that residents can readily access.
- Can you see any evidence of Residents Meetings being held regularly? Homes are required to encourage residents to meet and discuss things relevant to them and how the home is run. A good home will display the minutes or notes from these meetings.
- Are their resources to hand that residents and visitors can easily access? You should see newspapers, magazines, books and table games in use. Dementia care environments should not look overly tidy. If they are it might mean the residents don't have the opportunity to touch or use things that might bring them pleasure.
- Are there opportunities for residents to 'shop'? Lots of residents enjoy shopping. For residents who feel they have little control over their lives, spending their own money can raise self-esteem and bring real pleasure.
- Look for evidence of how much time residents spend away from the home and connecting with their local community. Do the staff and residents talk about places they have been? Are there volunteers around who bring an extra level of activity to the home?
- Does the home have an Activity Coordinator or named Activity specialist with responsibility for ensuring every resident is offered meaningful and purposeful engagement on a regular basis. What qualifications do those staff have?
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