Staffordshire care homes look after almost 8,000 residents according to Healthwatch
Care bosses in the Burton area have backed a move to improve the lives of people living in homes, including looking at introducing things like iPads for them to use.
Managers have welcomed a new report which wants them to make sure their elderly residents are 'living, not just existing in homes'.
The report from Healthwatch Staffordshire concludes that more homes need to invest time and money in their activities to ensure their residents still have a good quality of life.
horses into care homes for residents to pet and music therapy can help to improve happiness.
The introduction of iPads and other technology would allow for easier contact with family through social applications like Skype and WhatsApp, it says. It has also recommended care homes set up a more traditional pen-pal letter exchange with schools in their area to boost residents'.
With around 250 nursing and care homes across Staffordshire, offering support and care to almost 8,000 residents, the authors of the report, entitled 'Living not Existing: The Importance of Meaningful Activities in Care Home', visited homes to get a feel for what is being done at the moment for residents.
One of those homes was Branston Court Care Home, in Branston Road, in Burton, which received a very positive response from Healthwatch Staffordshire.
Vivienne Birch, the director of quality and compliance for Bupa Care Services, which is responsible for the running of the home said the report would only help care homes across the county to improve the lives of their residents.
She said: "We welcome this Healthwatch Staffordshire report as it highlights some important points for delivering quality aged care.
"Our Branston Court home runs a variety of activities for residents ranging from pet therapy – where dogs will visit the home – through to social events like cream tea afternoons. The team recently hosted a virtual tour of Europe, giving residents the experience of France without having to leave the home.
"We believe that keeping residents mentally stimulated is so important. Even simple things like listening to music can help the residents stay engaged and enjoying life."
Questionnaires were handed out and filled in by care home managers, activities co-ordinators, residents and even their relatives to create a full picture of what is currently being done and what can be improved.
A whole range of activities were seen when investigators visited homes including; arts and crafts, full day outings, exercise and music movement sessions, music therapy, visits from entertainers, animal therapy, themed days, baking and cooking, reading groups and flower-arranging.
Ashleigh Smyth-Osborne, the care manager at Hill Lodge Care Home in Rosliston Road, Stapenhill has highlighted that she believes integrating families and friends of the residents into events helps to bring residents out of their shells and enjoying life more.
She said: "We love getting families and friends involved, with a variety of events like discos, our summer fair, our Christmas fair. They can come in and volunteer, or even if they just want to have a dance.
"These people, our residents, they miss family interaction and this is something we like to make sure is felt as little as possible."
Mrs Smyth-Osborne said: "We have the luxury of having an activity centre right next door. So we offer plenty of in-house activities, as well as what is on next-door.
"We have lots; cooking, arts and crafts, gardening, all of which are very popular. We regularly take the residents to the Meadowside Leisure Centre for swimming and badminton – places like that tend to have a 'carers go free' policy.
"It is everything to them to make sure that life is being mixed up. Their main priority ever morning seems to be about what they are going to be doing that day. They love to do things that you or I do every day, to make sure they aren't missing out on anything."
The report details that many people, when questioned about what made an experience in a care home more enjoyable, said it was the small things that made them still feel part of society; jobs as simple as taking ownership of gardening plots and everyday domestic chores.
But, some of those in charge of care homes claimed that a number of factors could get in the way when it came to offering a range of activities for residents. These ranged from time constraints and fears for health and safety, to deciding to prioritise physical care over mental stimulation.
A copy of the full report has been sent out to every care home in the county to spread the information and advice.