A homely environment: 4 care home innovations that put residents at ease

An older resident playing with two young female relatives at Osborne House, Clevedon

The families of residents at Osborne House are always welcome to come in and spend time with their relatives, whether it's to have a cup of tea or take part in activities. - Credit: DAVE PRATT PHOTOGRAPHY 2015

Looking for a care home that prioritises their residents' schedules and makes their lives more comfortable? 

Approaches to care are changing, with the happiness of residents being prioritised over the more traditional, rigorous methods of controlled care.

Revamping shift patterns and adapting techniques to suit each resident’s needs are just two of the ways care homes are modernising, as well as boosting wellbeing and contentment. The new updates are particularly important to residential homes catering to people with dementia and Alzheimer’s. 

We caught up with Suzanne McPadden and Michelle Butler, both managers at Osborne House in Clevedon, who detailed the changes they’ve implemented and the benefits they’ve had for the residents. 

Older male resident plays golf in hallway with two female residents sat behind at Osborne House, North Somerset

Residents at Osborne are encouraged to take part in entertainments with each other, and can enjoy the freedom to pursue their own interests. - Credit: DAVE PRATT PHOTOGRAPHY 2015

1) Prioritising care home residents’ happiness 

When discussing potential changes within the care system, the top priority is the general happiness of all the people living in the care home. Carers at Osborne take the time to listen to their residents, and their families, to understand exactly what changes will improve their quality of life.  

The move away from regimented sleep patterns and the increased freedom for residents has had a very positive effect. Suzanne explains: “In order to make all of our residents feel welcomed and at home, we take special notice of their preferences. The key to making our residents happy is to acknowledge that a one-size-fits-all system won’t work for everyone. 

“For example, we reached out to people via our Facebook page to ask how our residents liked their drink in the morning – we received over 40 different responses that ranged from a simple black tea to a decaf coffee with a biscuit. Sometimes the simplest touches can give us all the information we need, and helps keep us connected.” 

2) Creating a sense of community and family at Osborne House 

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The connection to the community is vitally important to a care home, as they are an extension of the people under their direct care. Worries about an older relative can be overwhelming, especially when they have a condition such as dementia. Carers at Osborne House welcome family members into the home, listen to their concerns and do their utmost to alleviate any anxieties that they may have. 

Michelle explains: “We treat the relatives as members of our family here in the care home – they are always welcome to come in for a visit and to take part in the entertainments we provide for the residents. In addition, we have begun to include the families in discussions about future developments and frequently raise their queries in board meetings. This builds a genuine sense of trust between relatives and staff.” 

3) Developing assisted living services that focus on wellbeing 

In the past, frequent medication and controlled schedules were commonplace within the care system. These days, a focus on wellbeing and natural care techniques have boosted the quality of life for many in assisted living – particularly within dementia specialised homes.  

Staff at Osborne House have decided to forgo sleep medication, allowing residents to stay up during the night, should they wish - we have implemented revised shift schedules to accommodate this.  “For many suffering from dementia, agitation often originates from frustration and an overly controlled environment - we’ve therefore taken significant steps to ease our residents without medical assistance,” Michelle explains. 

“For example, a gentleman at the home used to be a farmer and would knock on other residents’ doors at 5 o’clock every morning, as he used to collect eggs at that time. Our carers built him a chicken coop and false eggs to collect, and since then he has been noticeably happier. These are the natural care techniques that make all the difference to our resident’s wellbeing and comfort.” 

Older female resident smiling and holding a flower on wall decoration at Osborne House, Clevedon

Staff at Osborne House have decided to implement natural care techniques instead of medication and regimented schedules, building a garden for the residents to use at any time. - Credit: DAVE PRATT PHOTOGRAPHY 2015

4) Delivering a flexible care system  

The cornerstone of the major improvements to staff and resident wellbeing and happiness has been flexibility – in the form of timescale reorganisation and staff communication. Osborne House has decided to do away with set mealtimes and a closed kitchen with an open buffet and a kitchen that’s open 24 hours a day.  

Suzanne comments: “We also have staff on-hand at all times to help residents to wash whenever they like. The move away from designated bath schedules, alongside our fresh food and drink policy, has had a massive impact on the general wellbeing in our care home. Building a positive working environment for staff members is just as important, as Michelle and I work closely together to improve the lives of residents and carers alike.” 

For more information on the new measures at Osborne, or to find out more about residential vacancies, visit osbornecarehomes.co.uk or call 01275 871020.