by Edith Macintosh. Rehabilitation Consultant. Care Inspectorate.
Having a job that focuses on improvement is such a privilege. I have the opportunity to work with many different organisations and people, to influence national policy and work streams and to do something in partnership with others that makes a difference to the day to day lives of older people.
Much, if not all of what I do, impacts immensely on a person’s quality of life and brings that rightly in to the heart of their care. I often ask colleagues and others when I do a presentation or workshop “What does quality of life mean to you? What helps you to live life to the full?” This can help people to have an understanding of what it may feel like to not have that important thing in their life or not be supported to fully participate in life as one would choose. The array of answers that come back reminds me once again of the uniqueness of each one of us and how important it is to be mindful of that as we respond to people’s needs, hopes, dreams and ambitions in a care setting. The sorts of things people say that are important to them are friends, family, having independence, pets, having a choice, continuing cultural interests and hobbies, enjoying the outdoors, having a purpose and being needed and loved, generally contributing to society.
Perhaps not the first things that would spring to mind when there are obvious, challenging care needs and yet ‘quality of life’ and ‘quality of care’ must be knitted together to attempt to ensure the best possible life experience for people of any age.
One of the initiatives I have been involved in is ‘Make Every Moment Count’ (MEMC). This is a resource developed in partnership which prompts and helps all of us to remember the importance and the difference that can be made, that we can make, to someone’s life in very simple but powerful ways. In ways that do not require a huge amount of time or resource but that require consideration, care and compassion and an understanding of what’s important to someone. It may seem strange that we need a resource like MEMC which emphasises the importance of normal human interactions, respect and basic human rights however we absolutely do need a reminder at times that we have it at our finger tips to make a moment count for someone today and it costs us nothing. Download a copy of MEMEC here
Having had such a lovely summer many of you will have had the chance to enjoy keeping a bit more active and enjoy the outdoors. I have been doing a lot of work over the past few months to support care homes to consider how older people can be more physically active and also enjoy the outdoors. There is a lot of new evidence which tells us about the importance of being active daily and the risks of sedentary behaviour and that ‘something is better than nothing’ even for the oldest, older person.
Through the work of the Go for Gold Challenge Scotland programme the message is going out to the sector about promoting physical activity and how this can be done daily, incorporating it in to the daily life of a care setting. As well as the important day to day activity taking place there have also been many large challenge events this summer where people have held games, dance and walking events for their care home or for a group of homes. The added value of this apart from the obvious physical health and wellbeing benefits are huge – things such as socialisation, citizenship and fun! I know how much better I feel after I take some exercise particularly if it is as part of a competitive sport and I expect this to be the same as I get older! Early next year a resource will be published for staff in care settings to support them to promote the importance of being physically active and make it happen where they are.
Follow me on Twitter to keep up to date with improvement stories and I will hopefully be able to share with you the experiences of older, older people in care homes enjoying being in the water, whether that is swimming or not. This is a pilot project that should take place in about 3 areas in Scotland towards the end of the year. There is loads of enthusiasm for this and what looks like a queue of people wanting to take part! Watch this space!