Sylvie Silver, Executive Director of the National Activity Providers Association (NAPA), offers some tips on providing successful care home visits.
Visiting someone you care about in a care setting can be a bit daunting. Some people will have no trouble at all, while others will struggle to find things to say. The dynamics of a relationship can change too, which can add to the challenge.
A relative or friend may have been the main carer with days filled by all the usual activities of life interspersed with chats over a cuppa or shared activities like favourite TV programmes or doing a jigsaw. These routines can disappear when the care home team take over and the visitor is left to rethink how best to use the time together when they visit frequently.
Families and friends who are not in such close contact often face a greater challenge as they have had less chance to build relationships with the staff or to appreciate the changing needs of the person they want to see. Connecting across generations can be invaluable and the joy of bringing grandchildren and great grandchildren to visit shouldn’t be underestimated but it may take a bit of thought and preparation to make the visit a success for everyone.
Care home managers and senior staff need to know how visitors are feeling, how well they are greeted and what support they get when they visit, as all these things will impact on the resident and their well-being. Successful relationship centred care, as established by Professor Mike Nolan and his team at Sheffield University, needs to have three elements working in harmony: the resident, the relative and the staff team. To achieve this balance we need to support friends and families to make visiting a positive experience that adds to the quality of life for all concerned.
To help make every visit a good one the National Activity Providers Association – NAPA – has set up a new scheme called Friends & Family to offer practical support to anyone visiting someone living in care. NAPA is a charity that specialises in bringing life, love and laughter to care settings. With expertise in all aspects of activity provision, NAPA is keen to share its knowledge and skills with friends and families.
A phone call to the Helpline, available Monday to Thursday, will offer the chance to talk about an individual’s particular needs. A dedicated section on the NAPA website with frequently asked questions and ideas for things to do will be available for a small membership fee. A facebook group will encourage interaction and the exchange of ideas and promote social media as a useful tool for connecting people up who have a common interest in visiting a care setting.
For information about relationship centred care go to: www.kingsfund.org.uk/sites/default/files/mike-nolan-relationship-centred-care-improving-outcomes-for-patients-familes-carers-and-staff-nov12.pdf.pdf