Just back from the National Care Homes Congress where Shaaron Caratella, Manager of Barchester Queens Court Care Home and I presented the filmed results of our second "Collected Short Stories" project (autobiographical pictorial life story albums) for, with and by residents with dementia, their families and their carers at the home. More of this later.
I was able to attend a number of other interesting presentations. Here are some statistics about care of older people in care homes which were presented by Arlene Astell , from the School of Psychology at the University of St Andrews, whose presentation preceded ours.
Recorded percentages of time spent on activities by residents in care homes in North West England:
(Bowie & Martin 1993 and 2009)
In this context, "Neutral" means sitting with nothing to do.
The results make for disappointing reading and all the more so, considering there has been more recent growth in activity provision in many care homes. It hardly bears thinking about that for over two-thirds of every waking hour of every day, residents in many care homes have nothing to do and no one to talk to.
And the figures make for even more worrying reading when thinking about those with advanced dementia, for whom communication may be difficult and challenging at the best of times.
Now consider the figures for motor activity. It is a truly dismal thought that the principle activity for these residents is staring ahead into the middle-distance, whether they are sitting in an armchair in a care home lounge or lying in bed – a kind of living purgatory.
Arlene's current research work entails using unusual - possibly unconventional - ways of communicating with people with advanced dementia more effectively. The results are revelatory, important and thankfully, more optimistic.