It’s very easy to announce that a care home is family friendly, but what does that mean?
Historically, care homes and nursing homes followed the hospital model of rigid visiting times. This in turn meant that families may not have been considered to be intrinsic in the planning of care pathways or, in fact, in the individual’s life inside a care environment. Today, things are changing for the better but there is always more work to be done.
Apple House care homes embrace an ethos of inclusion. Families and loved ones have a hugely crucial role to play and, as such, are our partners and never an inconvenience.
These are just some of the ways in which we include families of the individuals entrusted to our care:
Decision making: From the moment that we receive a referral for a placement at our homes we establish communication with the individual’s family unless they do not wish to be involved in the assessment process. This means that we invite the family and the individual to the home for an initial look at the facilities offered and to meet our team. An open line of dialogue is created so that families feel empowered to ask any questions and to express concerns or wishes. Often close family members advocate on behalf of their loved one or have worries about how the individual will adapt to their new home environment. After all, change is scary for all of us and we understand that. Only by being fully informed can families and their loved one make a decision that is right for them.
Partnerships: We believe that families and friends are an invaluable source of information. No-one knows an individual as well as those closest to them. Insights and preferences, life history, hobbies and matters that are important to the individual can sometimes be shared with us more fully by family members, especially if their loved one finds verbal communication to be a challenge or if their memory is poor. Memories are precious and we would like to learn about the memorable moments that are important to the person – all of this makes the individual who they are today. Working in partnership with families as well as the individual in care planning produces a more holistic and comprehensive pathway.
Approachable: Communication is key. Three words that summarise the entire partnership between ourselves and the loved ones of the individuals we support. It is essential that strong communication is in place to form a bridge between families and staff teams. That bridge helps to avoid rocky roads where anxiety and disharmony could take hold. After all, it can be stressful and emotional entrusting the care and support of someone you love into the hands of others. By us being approachable–letting families know that we are there to support them, that they can talk to us at any time–we hope to alleviate concerns, discuss expectations and to be friendly and flexible.
Flexible: The people who live at Apple House homes are not living in our workplace. We are working in their home. They are free to invite their families and friends into their home for a cuppa or to enjoy their gardens with them. We minimise rules about visiting to, for example, the need to sign in which is a legal requirement, and to the consideration of others living alongside the individual. There will always be a warm, genuine welcome from staff. We have an ‘open door’ approach to visiting, just as we all expect within our own homes outside of care.
Homely: We work hard to ensure that Apple House homes are exactly that – homely! To achieve this, we choose furnishings for our public areas such as lounges that are not clinical or generic in style. We encourage the displaying of items and pictures that have meaning to the individuals who live there. Our gardens are created and maintained with the help of those individuals who are able and wish to, for example our chickens are cared for by residents who collect the eggs and bake with them. There are sensory areas and places to simply sit and be. Where we are required to display certificates of registration, fire, health and safety etc, we endeavour to do so discretely. Individuals are encouraged and empowered to decide how they wish their bedroom to look (and we’ve certainly painted some wild and varied colours!).
Communication: We understand that it is not always possible to visit and so we ensure that alternative means of communication are accessible. These include Skype video calls, email and telephone calls between individuals and their loved ones.
Participation: Invitations are extended to families to events within the homes that are varied and regular. These include invitations to birthday celebrations, BBQs, seasonal parties, special activities such as visiting owls and birds of prey and charity fund-raiser coffee mornings.
This list is not exhaustive – there are so many diverse ways of ensuring that we are family friendly.