The decision to give up on independent living and move into residential care may be one of the hardest in a person’s life. Often it is a decision that is taken out of their hands by chronic illness, a hospital admission or a crisis in domestic arrangements – and this is hard in a different way.
It’s a difficult moment for their family and friends as well – they may accept that it is the right (probably the inevitable) decision but they may experience strong emotions of anxiety, sadness and possibly guilt and regret – a feeling that things should somehow have been different, even when rationally they accept that the move is for the best. Their personal status appears to change from spouse, partner, child, best friend, trusted neighbour to “visitor”. Have they somehow become unnecessary? Doomed to sit in the corners of lounges, balancing tepid cups of tea and making conversation about the weather?
Care home owners and managers do not need to be told about the importance of good relationships with residents’ friends and family. This is above all for their residents’ well-being and happiness but also for the atmosphere within the home, the provision of person-centred care, for staff members’ job satisfaction and for the reputation on the home in its local community and beyond. Honoured Guests offers a series of simple tips on working proactively to build these relationships – to welcome, involve and support the families and friends of people living in residential care. It is primarily aimed at managers and professional staff and also includes a one-page leaflet that can be printed and handed directly to families or customised to individual requirements.
Honoured Guests has been produced in partnership with John’s Campaign (www.johnscampaign.org.uk), a national movement that focuses on recognising and actively involving carers, especially those who care for people with dementia. It contains examples of good practice from a number of homes which are already part of the campaign and has been written by Julia Jones whose mother lives in residential care.