More care than ever is being provided in Scotland for an ageing population. We often talk of the challenges in delivering this provision for an increasing number of people, with pressures on budgets for home and residential care, and increasing time restrictions on staff providing this crucial service.
None of us want to spend our final years reliant on care determined by delivery models and contracts. We want to be able to enjoy all the things which are as important to us now for as long as possible, or in different ways. Personalised, tailored care is what all of us hope for. This approach is summed up by everyone involved in delivering care being encouraged to ask the question “what matters to you?”
This approach to care is important for the charity Royal Blind, which is Scotland’s largest vision impairment charity and where I work as Policy Manager. We run Scotland’s only two specialist care homes for older people with vision impairment, and so are very conscious of the specific care needs of people who live with sight conditions. Providing care to people with vision impairment requires staff to be aware of the specific needs and support people living with sight conditions have. This can range from supporting them to manage their living environment or ensuring they can access equipment they need. With the number of people living with sight loss projected to double in Scotland, to almost 400,000 by 2030, there will be a greater requirement for specialist support.
While personalised care is of great importance to people in residential care homes, being able to take part in activities they value and enjoy is crucial too. That is why activities in homes should be arranged founded on the wishes of the residents, not simply organised for them or based on what has been done before. Royal Blind wants to learn more about how we can ensure the activities in our homes are informed by the preferences of the people living in the home, and for this reason we are embarking on a new project on dementia and sight loss supported by the Life Changes Trust with funding from the Big Lottery.
As part of the project, Royal Blind staff are consulting with residents through a mixture of focus groups, surveys and individual conversations with them and their families to discover what activities they most enjoy taking part in. They are also observing interactions with those residents with communication difficulties during activities to detect their preferences.
Through this work we have already had a number of interesting and stimulating discussions with residents about which activities they would enjoy taking part in, how and when. What is also coming through in these discussions is that, for those residents who have been involved in faith groups, it is important to them that they can continue their spiritual life in the home.
A number of residents who took part in our discussion groups spoke of their wish to take part in regular acts of worship, and several talked about how they enjoyed joining with others in singing their favourite hymns. For other residents they had different priorities for the activities they wanted to be involved in. The priority for us is to ensure we have a clearer understanding of the wishes of the people who are taking part in activities before we arrange a programme of events.
Even in the midst of higher demand and restricted budgets, taking the time to ask “what matters to you” will always be crucial to so that the care we provide really meets the needs of the individual.
Policy Manager, Royal Blind & Scottish War Blinded