Liverpool care home Oak Springs has been helping Manchester University researchers looking at the future of care.
Oak Springs Care Home was one of four care homes to be approached by the University who wanted to interview a number of residents about what gives them a sense of purpose.
They also wanted to know to what extent they would like to engage in purposeful activities and the role of care staff in helping to achieve this.
Dr Laura Brown is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Manchester, whose research focuses on cognition, health and wellbeing in later life.
She said: “I am interested in characterising the patterns of psychological functioning that are associated with ageing and in developing interventions to help improve health and wellbeing in older populations – particularly those in residential care home settings.”
The results of the survey showed that many residents experienced a loss of a sense of purpose when entering a care home and found it hard to make friends. Care home staff are seen as integral to fostering a ‘tailored approach’ to activities to help get it back.
“Purposeful activities tailored to the resident’s previous life work best,” said Dr Brown. “For example, a resident who was very good at sewing when she was younger would enjoy craft activities put on by an activity coordinator that encouraged that skill in others. This would help to create a sense of purpose for the resident.
“Research shows that residents who are given a ‘job’ in a care home, such as gardening or DIY, found that it can improve their quality of life. But it has to be built into the culture of the care home as an important part of people’s care.”
Andrea Lyon, Registered Manager of Oak Springs Care Home, which has created an initiative called ‘Project Busy’ to encourage residents to get involved in daily life activities, said: “As part of our admission process our activities coordinators chat to each new resident and complete a ‘this is me’ document. This captures everything from their likes and dislikes to their hobbies and interests and really informs their personalised care plan.
“Our team encourages residents to complete little jobs if that’s what they would like to do. For example, a recent resident used to run her own sweet shop so we asked her if she would like to set up and help us run a tuck shop in the home. She loved it.
“Some residents find it hard moving from their own home into a care home but we have found that routine helps them to adjust, gives them a sense of purpose and also brings back memories.
“If someone says they used to enjoy popping into the pub for a pint on their way home from work, we will make this happen. Others might have loved going to bingo with friends every Friday night, so we’ll make sure there’s always something fun going on that night. It might be bingo, but it could be an exercise class, meditation or yoga.”