5 Important Aspects of Client Care in Residential Homes
Even quite sick and cognitively damaged people have opinions although you wouldn’t always think so in care homes. Often the patients find they have to fit in rather than the care home working around the needs and wishes of their client group. Research by C Barnett, from her conversations with people in Day Centers, show that they had three main preoccupations; home, loss and making a contribution.
1. Make Sure Residents Feel Listened To
Caregivers should encourage any type of decision making whether it is small or large, to give people with dementia a sense of control over themselves and their environment.
Autonomy improves quality of life in long-term care but it does mean that communication and care plans have to be easily shared between all members of staff. Institutionalized behavior, and all its damaging effects, occur because keeping the individual central to best care takes that bit more time. It requires just that bit more time to listen.
2. Managers Matter
Care homes need skilled managers who encourage best practice, offer education on dementia care, and value their staff. Long-term care for older people with dementia is a diverse and complex service. Managers have to balance the needs of their client group within financial boundaries so staffing levels and living wages can adversely affect retention and proper training. Regular contact with patients, care staff, medical staff and family members, meeting State and Government regulations, running the care homes is a job that is demanding if it is done well.
3. Residents Need to Feel Valued
In Barnett’s research she found people with dementia placed value on making a contribution, helping other people out. When you think of it, that is what most people value. For people in care homes it allows them to return to the valuable roles they had prior to their placements. Cheering up others, using talents for joke telling, playing a piano, singing, helping others with choosing and eating food gives life meaning.
4. Residents Need Advocates
Family and friends of care home residents need to have advocates who can pass on information of their previous lives, their relative’s requests, information on advance directives. Advocates act to ensure best care. They can give people with Alzheimer’s a voice. It is one of the most valuable roles a relative can do.
5. Residential Homes Need to Create Positive Social Environments
Friendship is important to people with dementia in care homes yet not a lot of research has been done to investigate it. Most nurses will be able to tell you about friendships that occur in the homes. I can remember a number of relationships where two people would follow each other around the corridors for hours. Their conversations were minimal, but they often seemed to be about doing something, going somewhere, giving their wanderings purpose. Friendships give meaning and purpose to most people’s lives.
E Barnett (1997) A Window of Insight Into Quality Care. Journal of Dementia Care
DownsM., Bowers B, (2008) Excellence in Dementia Care. Open University Press McGraw-Hill.
Joseph Rowntree Foundation (2001) Exploring ways for staff to consult people with
dementia about services. Findings May 2001 – Ref 541.