Care Home or Jail
14 May 2020
Staying Connected During Covid-19
During 2019 Evolve Care Academy year long course was entitled Connections. As a result we set up a website – www.connectionscount.org – and published magazines to support the learning of our entire community around the importance of human connection.
It seems strange to be sat here in 2020 where within five months of finishing a year long programme of human connection with a group of nursing homes where the doors are closed to the outside world. We have daily sessions with teams to understand the impact of this policy upon people living with the homes. The information collected in these sessions has been surprising – in an uplifting way !
Reading back the material from the Connections course it is surprising how much is still applicable, how much is still achievable even with the doors closed to the outside world
In Issue 01 of the Connections magazine “Identity” we wrote
“To have a true connection means making use of all of our senses. To create and sustain connections with individuals takes practice and skill. Whilst superficial connections may sometimes be readily possible, connections on a deeper emotional level are often more difficult”
“Whilst the environment that someone lives in is undoubtedly important, it struck us that the investment in the environment was simply disproportionate to the impact upon people’s daily lives”.
“Care and support are much more about the people that surround you, the interactions that you have; the connections that you make.”
“This is why Evolve Care Group have chosen to invest their time and money into their people; into the skill that care and support staff have to connect with people in their daily lives to create those magic moments.”
Connections 2019 was based upon the work of Professor Thomas Kitwood and his six psychological ideas – Identity, Attachment, Inclusion, Occupation, Comfort and Love.
Today the government guidance for social distancing advises all those over 70 to avoid non essential travel, work from home, significantly limit your face to face interaction with family, keep in touch using remote technology, use online services to contact your GP and other essential services
This is all that care homes up and down the country are trying to achieve. People in their own homes who are over 70 are advised to stay at home, avoid contact with others, to shield themselves by isolating.
They are in their own home and so this is somehow acceptable
As care homes took the same measures – measures to limit face to face interactions – they are somehow labelled as “jails of enforced loneliness”
Care homes up and down the country have (rightly) taken offence to this broad brush insult.
Having had the experience of being in a jail and now having the pleasure of leading a team in the care sector I have taken particular offence to this analogy
A person moving into care home is moving into their new home. When a person moves into an Evolve House, they bring with them their life story. We don’t just “admit” the person, but we welcome into the house, into the family, a new member and their family. The house adjusts to accommodate the person and their belongings.
Throughout the house – not just in their bedroom – in the hallways, lounges and dining room you can see clues that this individual lives in that space. Whether this is their personal chair, their piano, their personal objects from home on the mantlepiece or their photos on the photo wall – their presence is felt both physically and emotionally.
Teams make every possible effort to include each person in the running of the household. Their life histories are understood in great detail; people are supported to quickly become a part of their new family.
As society protects itself from the risks of a virus, individuals living in Evolve Homes, in small households are shielding themselves and their new families
Yes, this is difficult – just as it must be for the thousands of over 70’s shielding themselves in the wider community. This is nothing like jail, and using this analogy is yet another slur on the stirling work of the thousands of carers who work in care homes up and down the country
We teach our teams to support each person living with us as if they are our own grandparent, mum or dad. In fact the bonds that our teams create with the people we support are so strong that we would do anything for them. The communities that have been created through implementing the teachings of people like Professor Kitwood can only be understood if you have seen and experienced this first hand. Making huge sweeping statements as a bystander comparing our life’s work to “jails” is just a display of ignorance.
For examples of some this work I invite anyone to read the Connections Magazines at www.connectionscount.org. In particular please see the issue on Occupation – does this look like a jail to you ?
Please do not tar all care homes with the same brush; recognise that there are thousands of care workers out there working, and successfully so, keeping some very vulnerable adults both physically and emotionally safe.
Director, Evolve Care Group