Did you know that it’s Mental Health Awareness Week this month? The week organised by the Mental Health Foundation returns May 16th – 22nd. Care provision is increasingly as much about safeguarding the mental health of residents as it is about looking after their physical health, and rightly so.
With this in mind, we thought we’d take a little look at the theme of this year’s event and take the opportunity to talk about how you, your staff and your residents can get involved in Mental Health Awareness Week. We will also share a few ideas about supporting the mental health of your care home residents all year round.
The theme of Mental Health Awareness Week for 2016 is ‘Relationships’. Over the course of the week the Mental Health Foundation is asking people to go the extra mile to prioritise their relationships with their friends and family.
The aim is to drive home the message that committing time to protecting our happiness and wellbeing through maintaining good relationships is as important as any other aspect of living a healthy lifestyle. We might try to go to the gym or exercise a certain number of times each week or always aim to eat our five-a-day, but how many of us recognise and prioritise the impact good relationships have in helping us flourish?
In the spirit of the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, your care home may want to organise some activities that promote interaction with one another. This could take the form of group ‘crafternoons’, sing-alongs, tea parties or outings involving staff and residents - for some inspiration on group arts and crafts that are particularly beneficial to people living with dementia, take a look at our recent infographic. Why not have invitations sent out to friends and relatives and perhaps the wider local community too?
For your care home residents that are able to take part, you could organise some more physical group activities such bowling, country walks, picnics, beach visits or even a dance. Again, you might choose to invite friends and relatives to join in as this will help to build and support relationships outside of the care home.
Not all residents will want or need the same level of interaction with staff or other residents, but there are little things you and your staff can do to ensure they feel stimulated and happy, and able to maintain the relationships that are important to them.
Encouraging two-way communication between staff and residents and families and staff via a number of methods is a vital way to eliminate potential issues. If individuals don’t feel comfortable talking about problems they might be experiencing in an open setting, you could try organising informal drop-ins or make a simple suggestions or comments box or board available. Many care homes also use apps or games to assist those who find it more difficult to communicate.
Sourcing ideas and suggestions for activities and topics that need to be prioritised directly from residents is one obvious way to ensure everyone feels that their needs are catered for. Being able to maintain personal interests is also hugely important in maintaining residents’ wellbeing, and here on the blog we’ve been documenting why some homes are choosing to support residents’ requests for pubs in residence and are providing increased opportunities for individuals to continue with hobbies such as gardening, dancing or even playing in bands.
Helping residents to get to grips with communication technology like social media and Skype can also be invaluable. These tools can help support longer distance relationships and help residents to connect when visits are more difficult, so why not organise some special supervised sessions during the week?
Will you be taking part in Mental Health Awareness Week at your care home? Do you have any ideas or tools that help your residents feel their best? We would love to hear about them – leave us your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below.