27th July 2017

Touched by Humanity

When the benefits of bridging the generational age gap in Health and Social Care outweigh the disadvantages.

Have you ever had a moment when you are caught off guard by humanity? Not being there, not knowing the people, but just by hearing something good can cause emotion as if you are living it?

It happened to me

It happened to me the other day as I drove the same route from work to my home. On auto pilot stopping, going, indicating and turning the well-run route.

Life can be very ‘samey’ at home and at work, can’t it? The things we do, the people we talk to, the subjects that are rehearsed over and over.

And then…

But my ears pricked up today. A gravelly voice that only comes with age talking of singing and dancing and the joy of it all. A resident spoke of her interactions with nursery children in a piece on radio 4 and on BBC news covering the first nursery to be opened in a residential home.

The lady described the wonderful enjoyment that this union had made. An older man talked of the joy of seeing humanity grow slowly through the children.

A tear ran down my cheek.

My own childhood

My own childhood was one where I was amongst all ages. I was brought up in the Pentecostal church. We sang together, clapped and prayed together. I did not find it unusual to be around the senior members of society, every Tuesday in fact, visit them when they were sick, and even attend their funerals.

A different picture

Society has changed to an extent, and there is greater vigilance, rightly, around safeguarding. But one where different problems are evident. Some children who do not have older friends and family do not know how to interact with older people. The older generation are struggling with social isolation and loneliness, even in residential settings, and Health and Social Care are struggling to meet growing costs and budget cuts.

Not everyone needs a nursery!

I am not saying that every residential and nursing home needs a nursery, but I am saying to survive we need to adapt, and adaptation can bring new opportunities that outweigh the disadvantages.

Say ‘why not?’ to innovation

A ‘why not?’, needs to be placed where in the past many have not challenged the regulators. If the model does not fit the system, it is not the problem of the provider, only when it is unsafe and will not comply with regulations does it need to be a worry.

The house saga again!

We are almost ready for our house to go onto the market. I asked my husband to ‘go out and come back into the living room, and tell me what needs to move’. His face is worn with tiredness from this whole debacle. ‘I know what the living room looks like’ he says in monotone. ‘But do you know what it looks like as a potential buyer?’. He sighs and wearily goes out, and comes back in again.

Unfortunately for him, it proves my point. This fresh look identified half a dozen things that needed to be removed or rearranged (mainly by him).

Take off the autopilot

Sometimes the ‘autopilot’ fails to allow us to really see what is in front of us, and what can be an opportunity for healthy change. Turn it off and let the Summer months spread light on fresh ideas and innovation for you.

Helpful Resources

United for All Ages - United for All Ages works with local and central government, health, housing associations, companies, care providers, third sector and community organisations. They have a useful blog page full of inspiring information.

New Care Models – As CQC recognise the shift in health and social care they release information for providers.

Care.home.co.uk – Have a lovely blog about ‘life stories’ shared between children and the older generation.

*All information is correct at the time of publishing

Abi Spence

Registration and Inspection Specialist

Abi has worked for and with Government agencies relevant to social care for the past 12+ years. Primarily with the Department of Health, Social Services Inspectorate, Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) and since its inception the Care Quality Commission (CQC). As part of this long involvement Abi has developed a wide and detailed understanding of relevant issues and has worked closely with stakeholders such as people that use services, carers, providers, local government, the Department of Health, Ofsted and the Audit Commission. Read more

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