Loneliness and depression are among common health conditions in the elderly which inevitably have an impact on an individual’s quality of life. Momentum for public awareness of these issues and mental health in general, has been growing thanks to recent campaigns, with brands including Cadbury’s and TV networks like Channel 4 specifically bringing them into the spotlight, highlighting how small everyday gestures can make a real difference to people’s lives. With coronavirus now putting normality on hold, care home residents are again among those most affected, not able to visit family or friends, socialise outside, follow normal routines or get enough exercise.
Making sure all residents are happy and satisfied with the care they are receiving should be at the top of every care home’s priorities. To help prevent these issues from occurring, a comprehensive and person-centred care plan should be created to ensure all of the individual’s needs have been outlined, enabling carers to deliver the most beneficial care. However, if you’re looking for some inspiration as to how you can help your residents remain happy and mentally healthy, we have a few more suggestions below.
Provide Meaningful Activities
When a new resident joins your home, your staff should make them feel welcome and engage with them as much as possible. Each resident has their own reason for going into care, but it’s easy to forget they have left their own homes and families and are therefore at risk of becoming lonely or downbeat. Certain activities, such as group games or social dining, should be regular events for everybody to get to know each other to develop a sense of companionship and security, especially when going outside isn’t an option.
Encouraging residents to take part in activities they enjoy is a key component of care. A common problem residents sometimes face is a lack of opportunity for them to keep busy throughout the day, or that what is available to them isn’t fulfilling. This can initially cause boredom but even more serious health conditions such as depression could develop. If you see a resident who doesn’t seem interested in an activity or isn’t participating, talk to them and find out what they would rather be doing.
Residents should be encouraged to partake in their favourite activities (as highlighted in their care plan) as often as possible, including hobbies and arranging to meet with family and friends, in person or over video chat, or through other means. Doing so will have a positive effect on their quality of life and boost morale, as well as reducing risk of social isolation, depression and potential loss of physical function.
Find out how you can encourage your residents to stay in touch with family and friends by clicking here.
Maintain Personal Identity
Residents should be allowed to maintain and develop their personal identity and character. After all, life doesn’t stop just because someone needs care. This is why it’s crucial that each person’s care plan has their preferences and dislikes listed, as well as their interests. It can make a significant difference to their self-esteem and self-confidence and carers should support this by showing a willingness to interact and make a genuine connection with them as people, not just as another resident.
Whenever possible, residents should be involved in decision-making and should have the freedom to make their own choices and be able to express who they are and what interests they have. This goes a long way in keeping morale up and positive mental wellbeing. Maintaining independence can be as simple as being allowed to choose what they wear, being able to take their most valuable and sentimental possessions with them outside of their rooms, or letting them decide where they sit at meal times.
Treating Physical Problems Appropriately
When we think of mental health, it’s easy to focus solely on unseen underlying issues. Trying to figure exactly what is going on in someone’s mind isn’t a simple task, but physical health issues are also a major cause for depression and also not always straightforward to diagnose. If someone in your care begins behaving out of character, it may be worth checking their recent care records or monitoring them more closely, as new health concerns might explain what is causing a crash in mental wellbeing. Even obvious health issues like arthritis can act up suddenly. Recording and monitoring care can be easily accomplished using CareDocs.
It’s also not uncommon for residents to suffer from health conditions that are sometimes too severe and complex for a care home to cater for, which is why a full range of healthcare services should be available if and when they need them. This includes opticians, dentists and chiropractors, as well as GPs.
The process of providing beneficial care to residents starts with making sure a comprehensive and person-centred care plan has been created. It’s here that all your residents’ conditions, needs, treatments and interests are listed, and enables carers to deliver a first class service to each resident.
If you’d like to find out more about how your care home can make use of our easy-to-use care planning process, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of our friendly team. We specialise in helping care homes become more efficient through the use of electronic care records and management.