Yesterday, I heard 2 heart-warming stories of how care homes had considered how they might provide a person-centred service to their residents. The first was a gentleman who, along with some other residents had spent his whole adult life working in and running pubs. His short-term memory had declined but he often spoke about drinks, pubs and all things connected. Bearing this in mind, care home staff converted one of their rooms into a pub and the gentleman (along with some of the other gents at the care home) “pops out for a cheeky pint”. He loves it and returns to his room with a spring in his step having spent the evening with his friends.
The second was a gentleman who had recently moved to a care home and couldn’t sleep at night. Staff at the care home tried to encourage him to sleep at night but to no avail. He was becoming increasingly anxious at their attempts to help him settled each evening. He too had seen a significant decline in his short-term memory but could remember his occupation which was …. a London cabbie. Not only was he a taxi driver but had spent a significant amount of his life working nights! With this in mind, staff at the care home discontinued their futile attempts to help him sleep at night, he hadn’t slept at night for twenty years! Now, he sleeps in the day and staff keep him busy at night with the use of a 2-way radio and plenty of jobs for him to attend.
I was delighted to hear these stories of how care homes look beyond the immediate circumstances of their residents. Both now live in a care home and require a lot of care and support. However, they and every other person in care homes have a rich variety of interests, hobbies and occupations that sometimes aren’t known. Alongside the delight was a little sadness. Sadness that such stories are not the norm, surely a person-centred approach to people’s care needs to take all of these factors into consideration when developing care plans in residential homes.