Creating a positive care home environment whilst following social distancing rules

In May 2020, a National Care Association survey revealed that 74% of care home providers were concerned about the sustainability of their service. It’s now two months later and care homes across the UK are still under pressure. They’re facing increased costs for PPE and cleaning. Some families are taking their relatives home due to safety concerns. And there are fewer new residents considering moving in to fill empty beds.

Remaining positive and reliable through the uncertainties will be key for care homes in the coming months. It will build trust among existing and prospective residents – ensuring the home can cover their costs, remain open, and continue providing quality care!

But how do you create a positive environment whilst following government safety guidelines and social distancing rules? Here are some tried and tested activities that can work for any care home:

1)    Provide ways for staff to relax

To keep residents and their families well looked after, you need to look after your staff!

Happier, more relaxed teams are better able to provide high-quality resident care. They’ll also be in a better position to address any relatives’ concerns.

Some of our favourite examples we’ve seen care home try include:

  • Setting up an indoor garden – It’s a proven fact that nature helps us to relax. An indoor garden can create a relaxing area where staff can take 5 minutes to themselves. After working long shifts, and generally spending more time indoors, a bit of greenery can really lift someone’s mood.
  • Running quiz nights (or days) – There’s been a surge in ‘Zoom quizzes’ among families and friends during lockdown. But as lockdown measures start to lift, a quiz is still a great way to help your team feel connected.It’s been a busy, stressful time for frontline care workers. Even 10-minutes to have a laugh and some friendly competition goes a long way. You could organise a longer quiz one evening or incorporate a short quiz into your daily meetings. The Innova team have started morning quizzes and it’s definitely boosted our positivity!
  • Get the local community involved – Ask friends of the care home, local businesses, and anyone else you can think of to share their appreciation for the staff. Something as simple as an email or video message saying thank you can brighten anyone’s day.

Our top tip is to simply ask staff what kind of support they want! You can do this via phone, video call, or as part of another pre-scheduled meeting.

Creating a positive environment for your staff will up the positivity levels throughout the entire care home! Your team are the face of your care home. They are who residents and relatives look to for reassurance.

2)    Make everyday activities more fun

It doesn’t all have to be about bringing in completely new ideas. There are lots of small changes you can make to keep residents engaged with everyday activities.

For example, get creative with your menus! Try an outdoor BBQ, have themed evening meals, and get residents involved with menu choices wherever you can. Making meals into more of an event can give existing residents something to look forward to. Plus, give you something to promote to potential residents.

Varied diet for care homes
Good nutrition is always important for older people. It helps to reduce hospital admissions and improve their immune response.

Lots of things feel outside of care homes control right now. Making improvements to stable parts of residents’ routines – like mealtimes – can help make everyone feel more positive and comfortable.

As a bonus, changes like this can be made easily without having to increase physical contact between residents and/or staff.

3)    Remember, technology isn’t everything

Every industry has become more reliant on technology this year. Care homes are no exception.

Before diving into Zoom or WhatsApp or Facetime, it’s important to consider how individual residents will react to using more technology.

For some, video calls and online games will be a great mood-booster. They can chat to each other whilst staying safely in their own rooms. Plus, it can help them stay connected to their families if visits aren’t possible.

However, the average age of a care home resident is 85. Many won’t be confident with technology and some will want nothing to do with it at all!

Video calls aren't for everyone in a care home setting
Video calls are a great tool to have – but they’re not for everyone!

In these cases, attempting a video call with family could make a resident feel more distressed rather than more positive.

As an alternative, ask the family to send a letter (or an email for you to print). Some residents will feel more comfortable with staying in touch using a traditional method.

Doing this regularly still gives them something to look forward to each week!

4)    Be confident in the precautions you are taking

Confidence and positivity are catchy. If you show that you are confident in the steps your care home has taken to keep Coronavirus under control, others feel confident that you have the situation under control.

Take time to show stakeholders, families, and potential residents the changes you’ve made. You’ll be amazed by how much this helps to maintain a positive feel in the care home.

Make the most of email, your website, and social media. Whenever you have a positive update, share it!

Whether you’ve updated your infection control policy, installed a new hygiene station, or found a new way to facilitate social distancing, let people know.

Seeing that you’re making proactive changes is a really important trust signal for staff, residents, and families.

Start the 3-Step Roadmap to Success

We hope these simple tips provide some inspiration for maintaining positivity in your care home!

We’ve also written a free 60-page eBook for care home operators. As well as more tips for creating confidence and positivity, it’s full of practical advice for the months and years to come.

Get your roadmap to surviving the initial changes, operating sustainably, then strengthening and growing again.

Care Home Recovery Roadmap after COVID-19 Preivew