For many the idea of ‘residential care‘ is limited to the ‘elderly’, who are often seen as the predominant age group to ‘need’ residential care services, when in fact residential care can cater to ‘all age ranges’. Nursing care or specialized care for younger adults is becoming increasingly prevalent in many ‘care homes’ where issues like ‘detoriating mobility’, mental health and ‘neurlogical disorders’ are met by a team of dedicated professionals. Largely though residential care is often targeted at the elderly whose needs are ‘low’ and still have a great level of independence. These individuals do not necessarily need ‘nursing care’ but assistance with every day tasks such as ‘washing’, ‘dressing’ and in some cases ‘cooking’. We often conjure up an image of the elderly being ‘imprisoned in care homes’ and being robbed from their freedom, but residential care homes like Barchester do quite the opposite.
Barchester believes that we should enjoy life at any age, regardless of how society might view certain age groups. Rejecting the stereotype that being elderly means being ‘bed bound’, their range of fun activities to both stimulate the mind and nourish the soul, will reassure you that your grandparents, parents and even kids are in safe hands. When I was in my third year of university I learnt first hand how the residential care system worked and although my own personal experience as a ‘residential nurse’ was exhausting and intense, one of the best memories that I took away from the experience was how happy I had made the care patients feel. Dependent on the individual, each person had a different range of tasks that they needed help with and while some were bed bound and needed more advanced care, others were more independent and needed help with simple activities like taking medication, reading and more. It was providing residential rather than ‘nursing’ care that I enjoyed the most and being able to talk to people from all walks of life and how their lives had panned out was a marvel to recall.
Like Barchester, some of the patients were offered ‘activity programmes’ that were tailored to their different needs and capabilities, although I feel like the care system that I worked in should take a leaf out of ‘Barchester’s’ books, to really make a difference to the care patients lives. While the one I worked in offered assisted walks, supermarket trips and church visits, Barchester takes it one step further and offers gardening, baking, outings, gentle exercise, pet care and life-skills work. Other ‘alternative programmes’ also offer different forms of therapy to address their emotional as well as physical and social needs. The therapies include reminiscence therapy, music therapy and complimentary therapies, which can maintain a positive frame of mind, help the patient feel less lonely and allow them to express their emotions in a tranquil, stress-free environment. It is Barchester’s focus on ’emotional health’ and wellbeing that most appeals to me as many ‘residential care systems’ fail to address their patients emotional requirements because they tend to solely focus on psychical needs. As we all know, the body cannot survive without the mind and for those who have depression, anxiety or other mental health issues, there is often psychosomatic symptoms such as ‘nausea’, ‘cramps’ and more that manifest as a partial result of unresolved mental health issues. Having a dedicated programme that not only caters to the patients physical needs but also offers therapy to address their mental health, is something that should be in place in all care homes.
Sadly mental health still remains a taboo in many residential care homes but sending a loved one to Barchester who actually takes the time to both listen to their patients and draft up ways of dealing with mental health, is a step in the right direction. Even just by enrolling a patient in one of their more ‘social activities’ like gardening or baking is a way of fostering and cultivating community spirit and allowing them to talk to people outside of their family circle. Loneliness is something we have all faced at one point in our lives but for many elderly patients they have watched the ones they love die one by one over the years and its never easy to get over, even when they expect it. Taking time out of your day to help someone do the activities they love and watch their faces light up as they have fun is truly one of the most rewarding things that you could ever witness and I was proud to help people live their last days in peace and happiness, even if it was for a short time. I want to take this opportunity to thank those who work in the care system for their dedication and selfless attitude to helping others. Without you our elderly and young adults who require specialized care would be alone and their needs ignored, but you make their happiness possible.
What Are Your Thoughts On Residential Care?
Please note I am not a ‘care or mental health professional’ and any queries regarding someone you know who you think may require specialist care should be consulted with a professional. I am simply offering my thoughts and personal research surrounding ‘mental health’ and ‘residential care’ in collaboration with Barchester Healthcare.