Blindfolded role play. Perhaps not the first thing you’d associate with a care home. But it’s something that happens quite regularly here at the Huntington & Langham Estate.
A lot of our training for staff focuses on empathy, and when asked what empathy means to them, the answer is often “putting yourself in someone else’s shoes”.
This is great in principle, but not so easy in practice given that our team members have never lived in a care home, permanently lost their independence or been at the end of their life.
Role play can temporarily immerse you into a life unknown. It can create unexpected feelings and highlight aspects of life we didn’t realise we took for granted.
I once went to a ‘Dining in the Dark’ restaurant and spat out a perfectly edible salad leaf covered in dressing as it felt like I’d put a slug in my mouth. I felt an unexpected vulnerability – my mind went into a state of panic with each mouthful after that salad leaf.
The main benefit of role play is that it takes you out of your comfort zone and into a place where it’s so easy to feel as though you’re no longer in control. Whether it’s being assisted to eat, walk, dress, wash, or whatever, being the other side of the care helps staff to realise how fine the line is between enabling and disabling.
Is there too much food on the fork? Am I giving the next mouthful too soon? Have I explained what it is? If you’re helping someone to eat and not asking yourself these questions then I’d suggest it’s time to don the blindfold.