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What can care homes do to improve life for their residents?

When we think of care homes we can often think of unappealing and bland domiciles with limited stimulation for the residents. But this is by no means the case.

Increased life-expectancy and an ageing population has led to the proliferation of care homes, with numbers rising from approximately 3,500 care homes in operation in 1960 to around 11,300 today.

As the number of care homes in operation increases, successful homes hone their offering in order to continually improve the experience for residents. Smaller services are recognised as being leaders in offering a personalised service for residents; what a person likes to be called, the music they love and hate, where they like to eat, what they like to watch on TV, the list goes on…

Feedback from residents is vital. A basic questionnaire for service users reveals their preferences. Adjusting the layout of a room can help people feel more at home and enables them to make their mark on a room, much like when moving into any new home.

The décor of a care environment plays a big role in making it feel less clinical. For homes that accommodate older residents, recent studies have shown that having nostalgic décor can be particularly soothing due to the familiarity of the surroundings. A recent CQC state of care report suggested that homelike environments create a supportive family environment.

Colours are understood to be particularly appealing in dementia-friendly environments. Certain colours can help to relax residents, and bright colours can help to draw their eye to vital objects. This enables residents to keep active and retain independence.

Lighting also positively influences the mental state of residents as well as their mobility. Where possible, natural lighting should be used to make the environment feel homelier.

There are many ways in which care homes are innovating to provide a better experience for residents. As we learn more about the ageing process and the effects of our surroundings on mental wellbeing, we will surely see further improvements for those living in care.