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As the CEO of a new and exciting care home offer for older people across the UK, it is not without trepidation and caution that I use terms such as ‘exciting, fun & forward thinking’.

There are many older people and family members who just this week, maybe even today, will have come to the realisation that they cannot continue with the current situation they are in. These realisations, if they come on time, will mean that conversations around care at home, GP appointments, adaptations in the environment or subversive internet searches around dementia and how to cope, begin.

Choosing a care home, comes with fear, guilt, anxiety, trepidation, hope, peace of mind and many more iterations of feelings & states of mind. It is exceptionally hard when family members are faced with making a decision that is not congruent with their beliefs or a person’s wants. Due to this, often,  the conversations don’t start until a crisis occurs, where a person has sadly been found out of their home and not knowing where they are or where an individual has fallen, injured a hip or knee and are now in hospital, working desperately to recover from surgery.

Our role within the communities in which we are built is to start conversations as early as possible, encouraging dialogue around ‘what if’ well before anything happens and to help people understand the options available, to help alleviate the anxiety around becoming more frail. We help people explore what a care home can offer both the potential resident and their close family & friends. The choice does not and is not something that needs to hurt or cause fear. Care homes are not what they used to be, they are not people sitting in a living room in a circle, wishing for the day to end, they are not places filled with people whose autonomy has been stripped away and they are not places where ‘anyone’ can become a care team member.

We openly welcome our communities in to our homes, we integrate our homes into the local communities so that life continues and people feel part of the whole area where they live and not segregated from the place and people they love. Moreover, not ‘anybody’ can be a care team member, we focus on emotional intelligence, assessing people at the outset for their ability to empathise (rather than sympathise) with the people we support.

We will be hosting webinars on different subjects such as ‘What type of care do I need’, What can I do now I have been given a Dementia diagnosis’, and ‘How will I pay for care’ and we encourage people to join in the conversations.

If there are three take aways I’d like everyone to take from this blog it is that Care does not and should not happen ‘to’ you, all care should happen ‘with’ you. All care happens in partnership with the individual and loved ones, I encourage everyone who has a family member living in a care home to see the relationship as a partnership, we know when we work together, things work better. Lastly, fear and guilt are real when choosing care & support, it is unrealistic for us to expect anyone to trust us immediately, so taking small steps to building trust, reducing guilt and building relationships is key to a great care home experience.

Care homes are no longer the house on the hill where people were ‘sent’, they are beautifully designed spaces, where people are free to be who they are and where each individual can feel a sense of belonging. Truth be told, this doesn’t happen overnight, it requires a commitment from everyone to lean in to the ‘new normal’ with a healthy scepticism, supported by an open mind and heart. My children already know I am very happy to live in a care home when I need to and I know that knowing that, gives them the freedom to live, when the time comes whether I need physical support or find myself living with a Dementia, they know, that I know there are fantastic places for me to live and to thrive.

If you are thinking about care for you or a loved one – don’t hesitate to get in touch, we are here to help.

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