Ever wondered why aged care living is so difficult for many? Why residents are so sad? bored? Why workers feel powerless to provide the care they would like to give to residents? Why the TV is on all the time and aged care homes are relentless noisy?
I do. I spend a lot of time in aged care homes and wonder why they do things as they do. Why particular furniture is chosen, why particular floor coverings are selected, why grey is the colour of choice for uniforms and decor – all things that do not enhance the living experience for residents. I look and I wonder.
Most aged care workers enter the profession as loving and caring people who want to make a difference to the people for whom they care. However, the training the receive to prepare them for this work is rudimentary and few receive professional development training through work to really enhance the quality of their caring. They are frustrated because they see so many unmet needs.
Aged Care is dominated by a one-size fits all approach; regardless of all the forms you will fill out describing the particular needs and likes of your loved ones. For aged care provision to meet the expectations of government, of the community and especially of residents and their families, a different approach has to be brought to this sector. And that requires Imagination. It requires the implementation of the “person centred care” that is advertised. It requires really looking at the facility in all areas including architecture, temperature, food, lifestyle, furniture, staffing, noise, and design and examining how these things impact the lives of residents.
At present, even in the most up-market facilities, there is a lot to be desired in the provision of a whole of service aged care. In Australia, a Royal Commission is currently examining this sector and no doubt there will be many uncomfortable findings. Residential aged care, and especially living with dementia need not be so difficult for so many residents.
I now offer specialised Imagination! training for Aged Care providers and workers to improve the quality of services they provide residents, download an information brochure here :2019 Imagination! Training
This highly professional and targeted Imagination! training is devised and delivered with years of training, experience and research to support it. staff will learn and develop skills across a range of key areas. They will feel confident in better doing a job they love. Aged Care providers can go from good to great and everyone will feel good about that.
Key areas of expertise:
- project management
- engaging residents in conversation
- trauma, grief and loss
- program design and delivery
- cultural and social history
- arts and culture
- meaningful & purposeful engagement
- yoga and exercise
- the built and garden aged care environment
- mental health & wellbeing
- good & ethical practice for workers
- having difficult discussions with residents, families, and staff
an example of some curious questions raised through a recent scoping exercise in a dementia unit within a high-end provider :
WHAT do I do with this?
Cupboards may be full of games, activities, books, paints and paper , however,
- Do staff know how to utilise the resources available to them? What needs to be purchased?
- How can you support caring and dedicated staff to do their jobs better – as they would like to?
- What training do they need to build their skills and confidence to get the most out of the existing resources? And then use them in imaginative and dynamic ways for resident enjoyment?
- Can activities be planned to have a pleasant mix of routine? and spontaneity?
WHERE is the colour?
Russian artist Vassily Kandinsky wrote about the colour grey:
It is soundless and motionless, but it differs from green, because the green is a mixture of two active colours,
while the grey expresses a hopeless stillness.
- Why is grey the colour of choice for staff uniforms?
- When so much colour is drained from the lives of older people, wouldn’t bright colours be more delightful? Is a uniform needed?
- What would the SCU look like and how would it feel with more colour?
- Can homes be designed with designated spaces to showcase residents artworks?
In managing some small risks, larger risks to physical and mental health can be overlooked.
What happens to a person’s sense of self when residents
- Have no meaningful tasks to complete?
- Have nothing or no-one to look after?
- Are not invited to contribute?
The risk to their wellbeing, through depression, anxiety and sense of hopelessness, is far greater for many than any potential risk in say cutting up some vegies, planting or dead-heading flowers or drying the dishes.
Beyond Blue* has identified that
the rate of depression among older people living in residential care is believed to be much higher than that of the general population – around 35 per cent.
- What training do staff need to add to their existing caring skills to provide meaningful, purposeful and safe activities?
- What challenges can be given to residents to keep them feeling needed, useful and competent?
*see Snowdon and Fleming research), or one in three residents (National Ageing Research Institute, Depression in older age: A scoping study, 2009) retrieved from https://www.beyondblue.org.au/about-us/about-our-work/older-adults-program/professional-education-in-to-aged-care-peac-program
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