This morning I had a conversation with a friend about our passion to enable better care for older people. She is a nurse who is studying a PhD and specialising in dementia care, and I am an occupational therapist who has left the NHS 6 months after qualifying.
She was talking about her plans to open a nursing home that has a home ethos, and we discussed the need for outdoor spaces, conducive architecture and the ability to enable and empower choice. We also talked about the need for animals, for therapeutic purposes.
When I worked at a home for adults with learning disabilities there was a resident cat who was always around for a stroke when clients or staff were feeling upset or stressed.
We talked about the initiative in the Netherlands where residential and nursing homes are pairing up with colleges and universities to provide affordable living spaces for students, in return for the students interacting with the older people.
In an age where the disparity between young and old is developing like a gaping chasm, and initiatives such as these have reported loneliness in both younger and older people, it surely makes sense to counter balance this disparity. The question we posed is how can we make the government, and local councils, see this as a valid solution. Would they listen to us?
There needs to be more projects like residential homes being built alongside nurseries. An example that sticks in my mind is an article about a shopping centre in America, where retired people looked after children whilst their parent continued shopping.
It’s all about putting meaning back into the older person’s life, empowering and giving them choice rather than taking it away.
We didn’t come to a solution, but in voicing our concerns, visions and aspirations we somehow made our ideas more real, and valid.
We discussed how we can make small changes in our places of work, to gradually break through the murky waters and advocate on behalf of the people we care for to provide them the best quality care.
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