Wellbeing is something we talk about a lot at Livability – because when people tell us they’re feeling good about life, we know we’re providing the right sort of care and support for them.
Building someone’s wellbeing usually involves staff working one-to-one with people who use our services, to co-produce a way forward so the person can achieve their goals and get involved with people and activities they enjoy.
Three Livability staff, from residential care homes in north London and Essex, tell us how they work together and with residents and make life more livable for the people in their care.
How do you work on wellbeing?
‘We support our residents to achieve their goals. Sometimes this can be a challenge, like with Lynn, who has loved swimming since she was three years old. Initially there was no funding to make this happen. However, our manager approached the local authority, the funding was approved, staff were trained in first aid, a rota was made for staff to be on duty on the swimming day, risk assessment was implemented and then two members of staff supported Lynn to go swimming once a week and she was overjoyed about this. This activity is great for her health, wellbeing and mobility. Now this is sustainable for Lynn, and two other service users have expressed that they wish to go swimming.
What else makes life more livable at Brookside?
‘We provide a therapeutic environment here, with lots of indoor activities, including yoga, quizzes, and music, bingo and word games. It’s not nice to get bored – that’s not on our agenda. We’ve introduced technology like Alexa in communal areas, and for some individuals’ rooms, which means someone like Harriet can control her room’s environment, her music, TV, computer and the light as well.
‘And we embrace the local community, going out to all sorts of activities and groups like boccia, wheelchair football, choir, local library. Also, we invite people here, like Rotary Club members and volunteers from the North London Collegiate school, who visit every week. The girls love to sit and chat with the residents, have a cuppa, play games and we get really positive feedback from our residents and the school.’
How do you know you’re getting it right?
‘We empower our residents – they participate in training, on staff recruitment panels and in residents’ meetings. We want them always to express their views. We have a ‘red card’ system here so if anyone wants to talk to staff about anything, they just pick up a red card from a table in the living area, and we respond.’
‘We aim to have the wellbeing and health needs of our residents at the heart of everything we do. Doctors at our local practice have said we go the extra mile to make a difference to our residents’ lives. That’s what makes Brookside so special.’
Why do you like the job?
It’s the people! And the fact that I’m learning something different all the time. Every day, there’s something new.
How do you help someone to grow their wellbeing?
We work on confidence – people might take longer to learn something, but they know we are here to support them. We give a lot of encouragement and if someone can’t do it first time, we keep trying.
Anything you’re particularly proud of?
Well, I’ve worked with Heather, one of our residents, who has early onset dementia. I’ve supported her on holiday twice now, and although she remembers very little, she always remembers the holidays! It’s sheer happiness for her. We worked really hard with her to make it happen, and I’m quite proud of that.
What was your view of disability when you came to Netteswell?
I had an auntie who had Downs Syndrome. She died when I was 16 but I noticed that she got treated differently. Things are changing but I find it really frustrating when people talk down to disabled people, or assume their opinions aren’t valuable. I always make sure disabled people are not treated differently!
What approach do you take to co-production and wellbeing at Netteswell?
It’s helping the residents to enjoy life – getting out and doing things, getting to know them, trying new stuff. Compared to some places, there’s a very relaxed, can-do atmosphere here. Enabling the clients to be happy – that’s what counts.
So – what do people at Netteswell like to do?
Quite a lot! It can be things like making the most of our huge garden here. Our Friends group helped us to get new garden furniture last year and we want to make the garden more accessible, get paving down and build some raised beds. I’m learning about gardening, along with people here who want to get involved. When they try it, they like it, so we’re going to have a good crack at it.
Sometimes I just see if anyone fancies going down the pub in the evening. The Hare near here has a free jukebox night, so some of the lads will go down. It’s a lovely, friendly pub. Or one night, I got my guitar out and we had a singing night on the spur of the moment, just a one-off. Ed Sheeran’s Perfect was a favourite and everyone was singing and dancing and joining in. Movie nights are good too – we get popcorn and ice cream and watch something, usually a musical.
How accessible are community activities in your area?
It’s pretty good. I’m from round here so I can help people hook up with local stuff I know about. One of our residents has tried out a local boccia club, which is an accessible version of bowls. And he likes singing and a mate of mine has started a choir, so there’s a connection there. Most of our residents are regulars at local clubs and events.
It sounds action-packed …
Yes, it’s like, ‘what do you want to do?’ If someone said ‘go to France today’, we might struggle but we can help make most things happen.