Aged Care is Not a Home – Article

Article on Aged Care in Sydney Morning Herald

I noticed this article today.  It was a great piece to explain how some elder people feel when they are in a complex that makes most decisions for the residents, even when it is not necessary.  Moving into Aged Care is a big scary step, and staff need to make them feel “at home”.  While I comprehend that the management does need some rules for their residents, they need to get to know what their client’s real needs are.

Anyway it was good to hear the opinion of someone in such a place.  You can read it here. 

Retirement Village

One of my family members was in a residential for retirees.  I visited on quite a few occasions and liked little about it.  There were some activities arranged for the residents, but few and far between.  I am not aware if they had any committee/group of residents who participated in decision making. Such a group can be very helpful.

I know when I have been looking at such properties for myself, I am interested in what activities they have.  There is certainly excitement for me about the regular Bingo game, or even bus trips.  I may have to reconsider the latter, but as I am regularly “travel sick” in buses, it is something I am very wary about.

At one of the properties, the residents had to always sit at the same table and at the same chair every meal.  My family member found it hard to sitting at a table of fellow residents who didn’t speak.  They had no connection with each other.  They couldn’t even hold a conversation, but they were afraid of sitting elsewhere.  He had tried to, but got into trouble.   There appeared to be no concern for the people as individuals.  I often found as many as 6 or 7 sitting in wheelchairs or on their wheely walkers on the verandah staring into space.  There was little conversation, and limited things for them to do.

Everyone wants to live in their own home forever, but it is not possible.  An aged care facility may well be their home.  How do we make it feel like a “home” to them?

When people move into a seniors facility, it will take them a while to adjust, but they need to learn to feel “at home”.  Somehow we need to make them more comfortable in their new abode.

Putting Old People into Boxes

I have great concern about the way governments/aged care organisations seem to believe that a roof over one’s head, and three meals a day is all older people want.  I am sure some would fit into this category, but my understanding is that many want something interesting to do.  They need to talk, think, stimulate their minds etc.

When my late mother was in a “nursing home” I would see her and others in a room with a movie on the screen.  If you looked at the folk who were “watching” you would see that some were sleeping, some were talking, and few were actually looking at the screen.  Now it might seem a good idea to occupy a group of seniors by putting them in front of a big screen for a couple of hours, but it is not always going to work well.

Having worked in aged care, I understand some of the issues faced by the staff.  One is that there are usually not enough staff – and many have little understanding of the needs of their “clients”.

Young Staff Have No Idea

Quite a few years ago, I entertained seniors in a nursing home, with a program that I created.  I had photographs of many items that would have been familiar to folk around the 1940’s to 1960’s.  I laminated the cards with the photos, and I also had a PowerPoint presentation which included many of the photos and other information.

Generally around 15 – 20 senior residents from the aged care facility were in the room, and, for safety reasons, two or three nurses, who probably were in their 20’s and 30’s.  In those days they were mostly Aussies.  (Nowadays you are likely to see more foreign young men and women in this role.)

Anyway, I had a talk that I presented as I showed the slides on the big screen, and I would ask questions or tell additional tales too.  Generally the folk would be very involved.  They would add stories to mine, and there was a lot of communication and laughs.

Shuffled Cards

At the end of my presentation, I had about 20 cards that I had created, that had two or three words on them, which I would shuffle, get all the residents to take one, and then I would ask the residents to talk about what was on the card.  Often it was very amusing as they told of things that they remembered.

The nursing staff were most impressed.  They learned a lot about the people they worked with!  Older folk often have great memories of the past, but not much of recent times.  It is my belief that nursing staff who work with seniors daily, need to learn more about life 40 or 50 years ago, because for many older people that is what they like to talk about.

They don’t understand much about computers, mobile phones, technology etc.  They will often talk about old movies, old-time dances (which many went to weekly), living life without made roads, cars, television.  All nurses need to know more about the “olden days” to chat with their charges.

To older people, aged care, especially where they are surrounded by mod-cons that they are unfamiliar with, is not home for them.  I think that talking with them about the old days, helps bridge the knowledge gap.

What do you think?

Photo from Unsplash.com

Read books to learn about life in the 1940’s

 

 

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About Di Hill

My business card says "Writer, Traveller, Camera Addict, Bamboo Fan, Workshop Presenter." This website will focus on my writing - and the workshops I present. Workshops on Blogging, Marketing for Writers, and Life Story Writing.
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