Helping Elderly Loved Ones Feel at Home in a Care Facility

For anyone moving home it can be a difficult period trying to settle in. The new surroundings, distinct from the familiar space they’ve personalised over the years, can take a considerable amount of time to get used to.

This process can be even more daunting for elderly individuals transitioning into a residential care home, especially after spending decades in a home filled with memories. Understanding the emotional and psychological challenges they face is crucial for making this transition smoother.

Carers in homes prioritise making elder feel comfortable, with one of the key responsibilities being to ensure a new resident settles as quickly as possible, integrating them into the group and making a care home an enjoyable place to be rather than something out of the ordinary.

There are many benefits to moving elders into a care home, but if they can’t find comfort within it then it can be detrimental to their health. Therefore, it’s a collaborative effort, not just with carers but with friends and family, too.

If you’re considering moving a loved one into a care home, or have just done so, here are some top tips on how to help them feel more comfortable and settle in over the coming months…

Make regular visits before the move

Becoming familiar with new surroundings can significantly ease the transition to a care home for elderly loved ones. Most care homes recognise this and encourage elders and their families to visit the facility before the move-in date. These pre-move visits play a crucial role in making the transition smoother and less stressful. Here’s how:

  • Understanding the New Environment: Regular visits to the care home before moving in allow elders to acclimate to their new surroundings gradually. During these visits, they can explore the various areas of the facility, such as the dining hall, recreational areas, garden spaces, and their future room. This exploration helps them build a mental map of the place, reducing the feeling of disorientation that often accompanies a significant move. Knowing where everything is and becoming comfortable with the layout can significantly diminish anxiety.
  • Reducing Anxiety and Stress: The prospect of moving to a care home can be daunting for many elderly loved ones. Pre-move visits can alleviate much of this anxiety by demystifying the experience. Knowing what to expect and seeing the environment firsthand can transform fear of the unknown into a manageable and even positive anticipation. These visits also provide an opportunity to address any specific concerns or fears the elderly loved ones might have, with the care staff offering reassurances and practical solutions.

Add a homely touch to their room

During pre-move visits, loved ones can start planning how they want their new room to look and feel. They can discuss with the care home staff what personal items and furniture they can bring along. This planning allows them to envision their future space, making it easier to see it as their own. Family members can take measurements, plan the layout, and even begin decorating with their input, ensuring that the new room feels personalised and familiar from day one.

Naturally, decorating a elderly’s room with homely touches is going to ensure they are more comfortable.

Family photographs, soft furnishings, bedding, lamps, furniture, and sentimental items can all provide positive memories and make the room a little more familiar and less of a shock to the system when moving in.

Encourage interaction with other residents

Loneliness can be a significant issue for many elderly individuals, often exacerbating feelings of isolation and impacting mental and physical health. Transitioning to a residential care home, however, can counteract these feelings by providing more opportunities for regular social interaction than living alone. Encouraging elders to engage with other residents is a key factor in helping them feel at home and fostering a sense of community. Here’s how this can be effectively achieved:

  • Understanding the Benefits of Social Interaction: Regular social interaction has numerous benefits for elderly loved ones, including improved mental health, enhanced cognitive function, and a greater sense of purpose. In a care home, residents are surrounded by peers with similar life experiences and interests, creating a fertile ground for forming meaningful relationships. These connections can significantly enhance their quality of life and provide emotional support, especially during the initial adjustment period.
  • Facilitating Initial Introductions: Care homes often organise orientation programs for new residents, which can include meet-and-greet sessions, welcome parties, or introductory activities. These events are designed to help newcomers feel welcome and start building connections from day one. Families and carers should encourage participation in these activities and, if possible, accompany their loved ones to provide reassurance.
  • Encouraging Participation in Group Activities: Most care homes offer a variety of group activities, ranging from arts and crafts, gardening, and book clubs to fitness classes, games, and cultural outings. Encouraging elders to participate in these activities can help them find common interests with other residents and build friendships. Activity calendars should be reviewed with the elders to identify events they might enjoy, and gentle encouragement can help them take the first steps toward participation.
  • Creating Opportunities for Shared Meals: Mealtimes in care homes are prime opportunities for social interaction. Encouraging your loved one to join communal dining rather than eating alone in their room can foster casual conversations and create routine social interactions. Staff can also facilitate by seating new residents with friendly, outgoing peers who can help them integrate more easily.
  • Establishing Peer Support Groups: Peer support groups within the care home can provide a safe space for residents to share their feelings and experiences. These groups can be particularly beneficial for new residents who may be feeling homesick or overwhelmed. By sharing their emotions and hearing from others who have gone through similar transitions, Elderly loved ones can find comfort and reassurance.
  • Encouraging Personal Initiatives: Elderly loved ones who have hobbies or skills can be encouraged to share them with other residents. Whether it’s teaching a craft, leading a book discussion, or organising a card game, these personal initiatives can be instrumental in fostering social bonds. Family members can help identify these interests and suggest ways their loved one can get involved.
  • Utilising Technology for Social Interaction: In today’s digital age, technology can also play a role in encouraging social interaction. Care homes equipped with internet access and communal computers or tablets can facilitate virtual social activities, such as video calls with family, online games, or virtual tours. These activities can be both entertaining and a means of connecting with others in the home.
  • Promoting a Sense of Belonging: Feeling like an integral part of the community can significantly enhance a loved one’s experience in a care home. Staff and family members should encourage new residents to participate in community decision-making or resident councils if available. This involvement gives them a voice and a sense of ownership in their new home environment.

 

Visit your loved one regularly

Regular visits to a loved one in a care home are crucial for maintaining their emotional well-being and ensuring they feel connected to their family. The transition to a care home can be challenging, and frequent visits from family members can play a pivotal role in helping Elderly loved ones adjust to their new environment and feel valued and remembered. Here’s how regular visits can benefit your loved one and strengthen family bonds:

  • Reinforcing Family Connections: One of the most significant challenges for Elderly loved ones moving into a care home is the feeling of being disconnected from their family. Regular visits help bridge this gap, reminding them that they remain an integral part of the family. These visits reinforce the idea that their family cares about them and values their presence, which can alleviate feelings of abandonment and isolation.
  • Boosting Emotional Well-Being: Seeing familiar faces and spending quality time with loved ones can have a profound impact on a elderly’s emotional well-being. Visits can lift their spirits, reduce anxiety and depression, and provide a sense of security and stability. The joy and comfort that come from family interactions can greatly enhance their overall quality of life.
  • Providing Reassurance and Support: Frequent visits provide opportunities to reassure your loved one about their care and well-being. During visits, family members can observe the care being provided, address any concerns, and advocate for their loved one’s needs. This involvement can reassure the elders that their family is actively engaged in their care and well-being, which can significantly reduce any worries or fears they might have.
  • Encouraging Participation in Activities: Family visits can encourage Elderly loved ones to participate in social and recreational activities within the care home. Family members can join in these activities, making them more enjoyable and helping the elders feel more comfortable and engaged. This participation can foster a sense of community and belonging, making the care home feel more like a home.
  • Sharing Family News and Events: Keeping your loved one updated on family news and events helps them stay connected to the happenings in their family. Sharing photos, videos, and stories about family milestones, celebrations, and everyday life can make them feel included and involved. This connection to family life can provide a sense of continuity and normalcy, which is comforting and reassuring.
  • Personalised Visits: Tailoring visits to the interests and preferences of your loved one can make them more meaningful. Whether it’s bringing their favourite foods, sharing a hobby, watching a favourite movie, or simply chatting about old times, personalised visits show that you know and respect their likes and dislikes. This personal touch can deepen your bond and create lasting positive memories.
  • Building a Routine: Establishing a regular visiting schedule can create a sense of anticipation and routine for your loved one. Knowing when to expect a visit can give them something to look forward to and structure their week. It can also help reduce feelings of loneliness and boredom, as they have regular interactions and activities to break up their days.
  • Involving Other Family Members: Encouraging other family members, including grandchildren, to visit can diversify the interactions and bring joy to your loved one. Different family members can bring unique perspectives and activities, enriching the loved one’s experience. These multi-generational interactions can be particularly rewarding, providing opportunities for storytelling, sharing family history, and creating new memories.
  • Providing Opportunities for Outings: When feasible, taking your loved one on outings can be a wonderful change of pace. Whether it’s a trip to a favourite park, a visit to a local cafe, or attending a family gathering, these outings can provide a refreshing break from the routine and enhance their overall well-being. Discuss any outing plans with the care home staff to ensure they are manageable and safe.
  • Monitoring Health and Well-Being: Regular visits also allow family members to monitor their loved one’s health and well-being closely. You can notice any changes in their physical condition, mood, or behaviour and promptly address any concerns with the care home staff. This proactive approach ensures that any issues are dealt with swiftly, maintaining the elderly loved one’s health and comfort.

Keep them active

At Valorum Care Group, we place a lot of emphasis on keeping our residents active. It’s important for both mental and physical health, while it also ensures that Elderly loved ones are enjoying the lifestyle change of moving to a home.

Keeping busy and engaged with others, settles residents into the home further and keeps them feeling happy, which is only going to make them feel more comfortable in their surroundings.

To ensure this works successfully, care homes should be made aware of the activities Elderly loved ones enjoy, with family members often providing lists to aid with that, while loved ones visiting can also bring along favourite records or puzzles to enjoy during visits.

Ultimately, Elderly loved ones need to feel loved, be active and ensure the transition from home to care home is as smooth as possible, removing the culture shock of a well-decorated home to a blank canvas of a room. Integrating decoration, which Elderly loved ones can play an active part in doing, can be a positive first step, while engaging in their new environment is instrumental and what many carers prioritise to set-up another happy and comfortable chapter in their life.