Care Home Week 17: Guest blog from Fiona Collie (Carers Scotland)

Carers, families and care homes

Moving into a care home can be a big decision that brings about many changes to people’s daily lives. Some of these changes will be welcomed by people and their families because they bring more safety and security, as well as the friendship and companionship that may be found from being around peers.

Carers often say that they have conflicting feelings about making a decision with or for a person that they have to move into residential care.  Carers have told us that they experience a mixture of sadness and guilt, whilst also feeling some relief that the person they are looking after will be given a level of practical care and assistance that is now too difficult to maintain at home.

 “I know the feeling of having a huge weight lifted off your shoulders.  It’s what I felt when I made the decision that my brother had to be in a care home, and simply could not live independently any longer.  I also know the guilt that comes with that decision.”

Anon: Carers UK Carers Forum user.

For some carers, the person moving into a care home will be their spouse or partner.  In the case of older people, very often, they will have been married and living together for 50 or even 60 years. For both, the idea of living apart may be unimaginable and heart-breaking.

 “After 42 years of marriage, I miss her beyond belief.  For even when she was ill, she was a presence in the home.”[1]

It’s important that staff in care homes recognise these difficult feelings and the fact that, for many carers, caring simply continues but in a different way.  Many carers say they visit every day, help at mealtimes and in activities and take their loved one out on trips.  Involving carers and families can be crucial to the wellbeing of the person living there.

It’s important to encourage and support family life.

Care homes do and should actively work to involve carers and families and they should be encouraged to be a key part of their loved ones lives. Carers can help in bringing in personal items to decorate the person’s room, with advice on the person’s likes and dislikes, and information about what the person does as part of their normal routine.

Families, especially couples, should have time and space for private, undisturbed time together.  Where possible they should also be encouraged to take the person out to visit local places such as cafés and shops and local events… or to help them maintain interests, hobbies or clubs.

Care homes can set up a carers and families group (if there isn’t one already), where all the carers who feel like it could get together to support each other and perhaps work together for the home – fundraising or organising outings are often popular. Also they can share their concerns, and come to staff together with any issues.[2]

Useful resources for carers, families and people working in care homes:

  • Video: Living in a care home: a positive outcome for a person with dementia

http://www.scie.org.uk/dementia/supporting-people-with-dementia/living-care-home-positive-outcome.asp

  •  The Relatives and Residents Association has a range of resources for families, carers and workers. http://www.relres.org/

 

NOTES:

 

[1] Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2537556/I-wife-care-home-I-bear-guilt.html#ixzz4jVqVitHk
[2] Taken from (amended) http://www.scie.org.uk/dementia/carers-of-people-with-dementia/supporting-carers/hospital-and-care-homes.asp

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