Enriching independence


With the summer holiday season in full swing, everyone is venturing outside to enjoy activities and hobbies in the sunshine.

The same can be said for the residents and staff across Barchester’s 200 care homes and seven hospitals. The BBQs are being dusted off, produce grown by the residents is being used in home-cooked meals and the ice lollies are making an appearance.

Marie Toghill (RGN) at Lucerne House in Exeter explains why she is involved in the activities that take place in the home and why they are so important to the residents, “I worked on intensive care wards in the NHS for over 23 years before moving to the private elderly care sector nearly a year ago. It is so refreshing to be involved in the holistic care of our residents – in particular to see the enjoyment and overall improvement in the quality of life our residents experience through the activities we provide.”

Marie says as soon as a resident joins the Barchester family, their personal preferences are noted and taken into consideration. “Each care plan includes not only the clinical requirements for each resident, but their likes and dislikes, motivations, past experiences and mental wellbeing. This means we have a greater understanding of the needs and wants of each resident. Our holistic care plans enable us to give each resident the independence and support they need.”

“The activities we provide for our residents are an important part of our care plan. Alex Petersen, Activities Co-ordinator in the home is amazing,” says Marie. “He not only runs activities, but encourages staff throughout the home to take the reins with some of the activities. I have a keen interest in cooking and am currently running a cooking course for some of our residents. They love to get together and cook new things as a group. We held an Italian-themed week and our residents researched all the recipes and even found a lovely wine to go with the meals they cooked. These activities not only keep minds and hands active, but also create a sense of community throughout the home.”

Alex explains why activities for the residents are so important: “We plan different activities depending on levels of ability, but all have the core principle of enriching independence. For example, those living with mid to late stage dementia can become anxious and distressed, so we plan sensory activities. By connecting with residents through the music, sing-along sessions and smells, which were part of their lives, we can help keep them calm and relaxed.”

All staff work closely together to make sure the residents’ needs are being met, enabling them to live their lives to the full.

“We discuss each resident’s needs together as a team and ensure we provide the holistic solution required,” says Alex. “If a resident requires a unique approach, then we do whatever it takes to provide it. We had one gentleman who was very quiet and shy. He didn’t get involved in many group activities, but he needed to move around more. Through reading his life history, we discovered his love of gardening, so we brought the garden to him. Initially we asked him to plant things for us and give advice. Now he is up and out in the garden just after breakfast pretty much every day and has helped our gardener enormously. It has given him a great sense of purpose and belonging, with the added benefit of improving his mobility.”

Alex says the summer BBQs are one of the highlights of the social calendar so staff make sure everyone gets involved. “The residents make all kinds of goodies to eat using as much of the produce they have grown as possible. We invite families and the local community to come along; it’s like a village fete. Last year some families said it felt like they had come along to their mum or dad’s back garden, not a nursing home. This is exactly the kind of environment we want to create.”

Marie adds, “Getting the residents to retain their independence is fundamental. It is one of the things I love so much about working in elderly care; I get such satisfaction from giving evidence-based care and seeing residents thrive. I also know that when the time comes, we can provide the best end of life care, offering a peaceful and dignified death with someone who and dignified death with someone who knew and loved them. I am proud of this.”