Community Circles are working with care homes across Wigan and Leigh to help people stay connected to the things that matter to them.  To be able to develop at scale and to support care homes to work together, I’m working with groups of five care homes in a geographical location who meet together every fortnight.

At todays meeting we wanted to think creatively about how to support people well and keep doing the things that matter to them.  Inspired by a blog by Sara Livadeas of her experience of spending three days living in a care home we recorded our own ‘perfect day in a care home.’  You can read Sara’s blog here.

Common themes included fresh air every day, having company, a welcoming environment for family and friends to visit and a cup of tea whenever we fancy one and we’d like to make it ourselves, simple things that help us to have a good day.

Over the glorious Easter weekend I have seen lots of photos on Facebook from care homes in Wigan showing people enjoying the sunshine and fresh air.  I love the sunshine but also need fresh air every day and really enjoy being outside whatever the weather.  Do people who live in care homes get as much fresh air as they would like? Will my need for fresh air be the same when I’m older?  You’ll have to ask me in a few years but I’m guessing my need for fresh air and outdoor spaces will be something that continues to support my wellbeing.

I’m looking forward to matching a volunteer with a lady who is keen to continue enjoying the fresh air and have short walks around her local community.

A welcoming environment is something that we see often, with spaces for friends and family to visit but is there a place where people can make their own tea and coffee?  Sara mentioned in her blog that she was disappointed by “how little the residents were encouraged to participate in the daily routines, especially at mealtimes, barely pouring their own tea.”  I know how I like my tea and not keen on a hotel environment where I’m waited on; if I move into your care home can I make my own brew and will you help me find a kettle that I can use safely?

Other things that people recorded for their perfect day included reading and listening to their favourite music.  I love my Kindle and read as much as possible but there might be a time when I struggle with my eyesight; colleagues suggested talking books or someone reading to me.  Thinking about music, there’s lots of ways to create personal playlists; Spotify, BBC music memories or getting together to enjoy favourite requests via YouTube.

For Jane’s perfect day, she wanted to be able to indulge in her love of cooking, from the preparation through to enjoying her home made Thai curry.  Kitchen’s aren’t always easily accessible in a care home so we chatted through ideas of how we could support Jane.  With a bit of creative thinking, if Jane moves into a care home, she can continue to make her curries in the dining area using a plug in wok. At a previous home I worked at, Ken was able to continue making his favourite casseroles, prepping the ingredients with the support of his Circle volunteer and using a slow cooker to cook it in time for his family to join him for tea.

During our discussions we also chatted about how our perfect days might look if our health or mobility changes; our interests may be the same but we might need different support and creativity to help us stay involved with these.

Doing this exercise shows that our perfect day is mostly made up of ordinary stuff, likely the things that we do everyday now.  We might need to think creatively about helping people continue with their hobbies or how to do this safely but a little imagination can help create perfect days.

What does your perfect day in a care home look like?

Cath Barton

Community Circles Connector