DSDC, the dementia centre of Stirling University, is urging care home operators to embrace the positive benefits of watching television.
In a study co-written by DSDC director Professor June Andrews and visiting fellow Mark Butler, they extol the virtues of television as a community activity and comforting companion.
“Watching TV is often portrayed as a passive and unhealthy pastime. In relation to elder care, the use of TV in care homes is often associated with poor care,” the study begins.
“It is not uncommon to see statements like: ‘residents stuck in dismal rows of armchairs, telly on, dreary atmosphere, terrible food, and often that tell-tale smell of wee,’” it continues.
Not only is this image of care home day rooms out of date, so is the portrayal of the TV itself.
“With the technological changes we see today, our use of the TV has changed too. Today we have an enormous choice when watching TV from traditional scheduled channels to subject specialist channels through to on-demand services.” This leads to “several practical evidence-based that every care home can take to make use of the benefits that digital technology can provide.”
Practical advice includes:
- Understand and respect the difference between watching TV in public and private spaces.
- Make sure that TV is user-friendly for everyone.
- Challenge assumptions about what TV means in a care setting.
- Staff need to be present to help make TV as positive and active as possible for residents.
- Do not make assumptions about choices of programmes.
- Be creative and imaginative, so TV promotes healthy ageing.
- Make the most of TV for staff as well residents.
- Consider the TV as part of the active design of the care environment.
“Not everyone wants to watch TV all the time and the creation of a viewing theatre that is not the normal communal area can help make it possible for interest groups to watch what they want together. The design of the room may also help with viewing movies together in a congenial cinema like environment,” the report advises.
“TV is increasingly included in the list of benefits in well-respected care homes, rather than being seen as a guilty secret. ‘TV On’ can be a positive part of every care home and should be from now on,” it concludes.