Illawarra Mercury

How to make aged care feel like home

The bond between residents and caregivers is fundamental in making people feel at home in aged care. Picture supplied
The bond between residents and caregivers is fundamental in making people feel at home in aged care. Picture supplied

In partnership with St Vincent's Care

Moving to aged care can feel like a bittersweet turning point. Leaving behind a familiar home and routine can be emotionally challenging, sometimes sparking feelings of loss and uncertainty.

But within the walls of aged care lies the potential to create a new sense of comfort and belonging. By fostering a homey environment that caters to individual preferences and cultivates connection, aged care can truly become a place where residents feel happy, secure, and valued.

1 Personalise the space

Transitioning to aged care, such as what nursing homes Brisbane area offer, doesn't mean leaving the warmth and personal touch of one's home behind. Turning a standard aged care room into a cherished haven starts with making it feel personal. This doesn't require a complete overhaul-sometimes, the most comforting touches are the simplest.

  • Familiar Furnishings

The inclusion of personal furniture can make a significant difference in an aged care setting. While extensive furniture changes might not be feasible, bringing in a beloved chair, a comforting throw blanket, or well-worn slippers can create an instant sense of familiarity and security.

Remember, space limitations and safety regulations are important considerations. Discuss options with the staff to ensure any personal furniture additions meet safety guidelines and fit comfortably within the room.

  • Treasured Possessions

Surroundings filled with cherished memories can be a powerful comfort. Family photographs, framed artwork with sentimental value, or a treasured music box-these items act as anchors to the past, sparking positive emotions and a sense of self.

Think beyond just photos. Incorporating a cherished teacup, a frequently enjoyed book of poems, or a small potted plant from a beloved garden can all contribute to a mosaic of comforting memories. These items act as a visual narrative of one's life, offering not only decoration but also comfort and a sense of belonging.

  • Decorate with Comfort

A strategically placed lamp can bathe a corner in warm light, perfect for reading or quiet reflection. A soft rug by the bedside adds a touch of cosiness underfoot. Even a small vase filled with fresh flowers from the garden (if allowed) can brighten the space and connect the residents with nature. These small touches go a long way in creating a space that feels uniquely theirs, fostering a sense of ownership and individuality.

Making care homes cosy by adding cherished mementos and comfortable touches really makes the place feel like home.

2 Foster a sense of connection

We're naturally wired to connect with others; it's a fundamental part of who we are. No matter our age, these bonds are key to our happiness and health. This is where aged care homes can really make a difference, by fostering an environment where these essential connections can flourish.

  • Family and Friends

Regular visits from loved ones are a powerful way to combat feelings of isolation. Schedule chats, meals, or game nights together. Incorporate the resident's interests-perhaps a shared love of board games, watching old movies, or simply reminiscing about cherished memories.

For those who live far away or are unable to visit frequently, technology can bridge the gap. Many facilities have tablets or video chat equipment available, allowing residents to connect with loved ones virtually.

  • Staff Relationships

The bond between residents and caregivers is fundamental. Staff members who take the time to get to know the residents, understand their backgrounds, and recognise their individual preferences contribute significantly to a supportive and caring environment.

This rapport can transform routine care into a series of meaningful interactions, making residents feel valued and understood. Personalised care that respects each resident's uniqueness fosters a sense of trust and comfort, which is vital for feeling at home.

  • Community Activities

Aged care facilities often offer a variety of group activities, from book clubs and art classes to movie nights and exercise groups. Encourage residents to participate in activities that align with their interests. These gatherings provide opportunities to meet new people, share experiences, and build friendships. Many facilities even host events that involve the wider community, such as intergenerational programs where residents interact with children or local school groups.

The sense of connection is key to making residents feel truly at home, surrounded by a supportive network and engaged in a thriving community.

Activities that let people improve their fitness while having fun with others helps to foster relationships. Picture Shutterstock
Activities that let people improve their fitness while having fun with others helps to foster relationships. Picture Shutterstock

3 Maintain routines and preferences

Disruption to daily routines can be unsettling, especially for older adults. Aged care facilities that strive to create a home-like environment understand the importance of respecting individual preferences and incorporating familiar routines whenever possible.

  • Tailored Schedules

Establishing a routine that mirrors their previous lifestyle helps in minimising disorientation and promotes a feeling of control over their day-to-day life. Facilities can create personalised schedules that accommodate a resident's preferred wake-up and sleep times and mealtimes they've been accustomed to.

  • Dietary Delights

Food is more than just sustenance; it's a source of comfort and enjoyment. Aged care facilities should strive to offer a variety of menu options that cater to individual tastes and cultural backgrounds. When possible, incorporating familiar dishes or flavours from a resident's heritage can spark positive memories and make mealtimes more enjoyable.

  • Engaging Activities

Just because someone has moved to aged care doesn't mean their passions and interests have disappeared. Whether participating in a weekly knitting circle, solving crossword puzzles, or tending to a small herb garden, these activities provide a sense of purpose, accomplishment, and mental stimulation.

By prioritising the maintenance of personal routines, dietary preferences, and engagement in interests, aged care facilities can significantly enhance the quality of life for their residents.

Enriching lives in aged care

Creating a truly exceptional aged care experience goes beyond just providing excellent medical care. It's about recognising the emotional needs of residents and fostering a sense of belonging. Embracing this holistic perspective not only elevates the standard of care but also enriches the lives of residents, making their golden years as rewarding and comfortable as possible.