The festive season can be a notoriously difficult time for older adults, but the right setting can make a significant difference
Christmas is here, and as families around the country start celebrating the festive season, thousands of care homes are preparing to do the same.
Many frail and older adults in the UK will be spending this period, which is traditionally thought of as a family occasion, away from their loved ones. Not surprisingly, this can make Christmas a difficult time for both care home residents and families – not to mention a challenge for staff.
On the one hand, it’s a chance for residents to enjoy themselves, engage in activities and make some special memories. On the other hand, the festive season can be distressing for some residents who feel isolated and lonely. Figures from Age UK reveal that over one million elderly people regularly go a month without speaking to anyone, while around half a million over 65 year olds face the prospect of spending Christmas alone.
Every resident deserves to enjoy Christmas, and there are plenty of factors you can consider in order to provide the best holiday season possible. We’re going to take a closer look at the impact Christmas can have for care home residents, and explore the different ways that providers are combatting these challenges.
The negative impact of a lonely Christmas
Not seeing family at Christmas can be difficult for care home residents, making them more prone to negative feelings. This, in turn, can create a vicious cycle in which they cut themselves off further and become isolated.
Research from the ‘Campaign to End Loneliness’ reveals that social isolation can be as damaging to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Loneliness has been shown to increase stress levels, which can reduce sleep quality and even weaken the immune system. For older adults, this can be particularly dangerous.
How can design help your residents this Christmas?
Communal activities and celebrations are key to a great care home Christmas, softening any distress residents may be feeling. Savouring and sharing memories, helping residents write cards, putting on entertainment and providing enjoyable festive meals are just some of the ways to make Christmas special. After all, care homes where staff know their residents on a personal level are in effect a surrogate family.
Setting is also a key aspect to consider. Here at YTM Furniture, we understand better than most that care home design must cater to the physical, emotional and medical needs of care home residents. Providing a safe and secure environment, which is also luxurious and aesthetically appealing is an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to improving resident wellbeing.
This is evident in our collection of bedroom furniture. The bedroom should act as a comfortable sanctuary for care home residents. Specialised care furniture like our profiling bed can provide the maximum amount of mobility and independence, while our range of bespoke options means that design does not have to suffer as a result.
But luxury care design doesn’t end at the bedroom. Offering hotel-standard furniture in communal spaces like dining rooms and lounges can help create a more enjoyable, inviting and lively atmosphere for residents during the festive season. Even something as simple as providing ample comfortable seating can encourage residents to spend more time together in a sociable environment.
Products like our Orla range bring together this sense of luxury and comfort perfectly, acting as the centrepiece in any attractive and welcoming care home hub.
We believe that luxurious and thoughtful care home furniture can enhance the quality of life for residents at Christmas and throughout the year. Our environment is hugely important for our wellbeing, as are key factors such as colour, natural light, comforting textures and quality materials. Introducing the right communal furniture can be a key factor in tackling loneliness at Christmas, through the creation of warm, welcoming spaces which encourage residents to enjoy communal areas.
The link between dementia and loneliness
It’s difficult to overstate the potential consequences of social isolation, especially when it comes to conditions like dementia. By 2025, there are expected be more than one million people in the UK living with dementia, putting more pressure on care homes to provide individual and effective care to an increasing number of people.
But could something as simple as conversation make a difference?
A trial funded by the National Institute of Health Research suggests that it does; finding that just one hour of social interaction a week can be beneficial in reducing common dementia symptoms like confusion, distress and loss of memory.
The study involved more than 800 dementia residents across 69 English care homes, and found that the longer residents spent engaging in conversation and enjoying social settings, the greater the boost to their wellbeing.
The researchers had previously found that the average amount of social interaction for people with dementia was just two minutes a day, and this was having a knock-on effect on the levels of agitation they experienced, and their overall quality of life.
Like loneliness, setting also has an important role to play in supporting the wellbeing of those living with dementia.
YTM Furniture’s Dementia range – furniture that cares
One of the ways in which we are committed to improving resident wellbeing through design is with our dedicated Dementia range of furniture. Designed in conjunction with research from the University of Stirling, this collection of bedroom furniture has been created specifically to meet the all-important needs of those living with dementia.
Features such as a perspex panel on the wardrobe can make daily tasks like getting dressed more achievable for residents, allowing them to see and choose from a selected sample of clothing. Likewise, handle-less drawers are designed deliberately for easy access. We also include memory boxes in our dementia range – simple perspex-fronted boxes which can be filled with customised items carefully curated to reflect the individual resident. As well as being a thoughtful addition to any bedroom, these can also make it easier for dementia residents to identify their room.
These features are implemented without sacrificing design, as the Dementia range maintains a sleek, light look that is pleasing on the eye. This means that no dementia resident has to choose between appealing and appropriate furniture. The right interior environment is key to maintaining the wellbeing of care home residents, so this festive season, make it your resolution to invest in the highest quality furniture for your establishment.
With almost 40 years of experience in creating quality contract furniture for care homes, you know you’re in safe hands with YTM. Our extensive bespoke services allow you to create pieces perfectly suited to your project and residents. Call us on 01977 66 50 50 or leave us an online enquiry here. You can also visit us in-person at our West Yorkshire Head Office, where you’ll be able to explore our Design Studio and Showroom.