Care Home Week 17: Guest blog from Jai Chohan

To complement our Ordinary Living theme today during Care Home Week 17, we are featuring a blog from Jai Chohan at Broxburn Care Home. Harry was a resident at the care home and this blog describes how the staff were able to meet Harry's needs during his time there. 

Harry first came to our attention last summer via social work. He was residing in a home in Edinburgh where they were struggling to manage his level of stress while maintaining his independence. As a result, Harry had become difficult to care for and refused all help.  He was also absconding from the home regularly and displaying distressed reactions towards staff and fellow service users. Harry had no awareness of his own wellbeing or safety and in his own words believed everyone was ‘out to get him’ he just wanted to go home to his flat in Edinburgh and to see his friends at his local pub.

Harry had a history of alcohol abuse and suffered from poor mental health as well as his dementia diagnosis. As a team at the home we reviewed his needs and visited him at the home in Edinburgh. From this we felt that if we planned his care prior to admission, included him in his care planning and let him set his own realistic goals we could meet Harry's needs and improve his quality of life.

When preparing for his admission we used the issues that arose in his current home to prepare a safe and comforting environment for him. We also made sure all staff members were aware of Harry, his needs and our plans to encourage self-help. All staff in all departments played a huge part in Harry's care and in the improvement of his mood, care and general quality of life.

To care for Harry we had to get to know Harry.  He was allocated a key worker and named nurse, however everyone helped to bring Harry out of his shell. We found out about his life, his jobs, what made him happy and eventually he opened up about what made him sad and we began to get to the route of his problems.

Kitchen staff worked hard to include him in his meal choices to promote a regular varied diet. We saw his weight increase and he began to come out of his room and socialise at meal times. Housekeepers included him in cleaning his room as he would often leave his room in a very poor state.  Over time he began to take pride in his room and environment. He became close with staff and as he saw it, we were now his friends. We assisted with all his care needs when he first arrived as he did not want to look after himself. After encouragement, prompting and TLC, Harry began to shave himself, then shower himself, he put clean clothes on himself and cleaned his teeth. Before Harry became unwell he was primarily self-caring.

Harry was a very happy, caring and empathetic man who had lost his way slightly. Harry's dementia, mental health and alcohol issues were being treated but Harry the person had been forgotten. Our main goal when caring for him was not only to ensure he was healthy and comfortable, but also to meet Harry's own goals and outcomes. He wanted a pint in the pub, a cigarette, a Mars bar and a glass of cola at night amongst other day-to-day basic items. With every positive step Harry made with us we would help him meet one of these goals. We discussed why there were limitations for him, helped him to understand and included him how we would work around these.

We understood what he missed from his life and tried to incorporate it into his new life. He looked at Broxburn Care Home as his home and staff as his family and friends. We endeavoured to meet his everyday relationship and home comforts that he clearly craved.

Harry sadly became unwell and passed away, however while he was at Broxburn we strived to give him a good quality of life and believed that we did. He had his good days and bad days as we all do but during his year here he went for pints with staff and his son, regularly walked with staff to the shops, had a visit to Edinburgh and attended church. He became self-aware, happy and valued that he had met a lot of his own goals and we all still miss his happy face and silly jokes.

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