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2nd October

The Benefits of Returning to Slow Living | As Featured in Journal of Dementia Care

An exclusive post written by our MD, Charlie


We’ve seen the footage of people in PPE, staff at full stretch, the care industry at breaking point, but there’s also been a gentler side to life in care homes during lockdown. Of course, suspected or confirmed cases of Covid-19 have called for an all-hands-on-deck approach with surgical levels of infection control, but it’s certainly not the whole story.

 

For us, lockdown has meant no appointments to take people to, no events to organise and attend, and it has made a big difference to the feel of our homes. As an example, one of the responsibilities of Bess, our team leader at Huntington House, would normally be to make sure people were ready for the hairdresser and any other appointments. Now, she is the hairdresser.

 

Bess actually happens to be a qualified hairdresser - she’s one of those annoying people who is brilliant at everything! But the point is that our staff have been able to focus on “being” rather than “doing”. The workload hasn’t necessarily reduced, but it has shifted.

 

Time spent on the things that matter

Instead of trying to keep everyone busy all of the time for fear they might be bored or lonely - two of the biggest focuses of our industry in recent years - care homes across the country are modelling the new trend for slow living. The slower pace of life is actually more akin to how the generation we are caring for used to live, and when our nation as a whole was arguably at its happiest. In consequence, residents and staff alike are spending time on things that are most important to them - sitting in the garden, listening to music and dancing, staying in touch with family and friends. The latter, of course, has provided some logistical challenges, but not without plenty of success.

 

Grandchildren, instead of sitting uncomfortably in the corner of a care home lounge, are putting on impromptu plays via FaceTime, or giving virtual tours of their bedroom or the walk they’ve been doing every day. These are moments and places that our residents may never have seen otherwise.

 

Younger people’s familiarity with technology has enabled residents to have genuine engagement with their families that wouldn’t necessarily happen naturally in a care home. The effectiveness of these virtual visits has been one of lockdown’s biggest surprises. FaceTime will never replace a real hug, but it has been an amazing addition to the support we’re able to provide, not just for residents but for whole families.

 

There have been so many lessons learned from lockdown, but perhaps none so poignant as the importance of family. Leading dementia charities recently called for relatives of care home residents to be given key worker status, and I couldn’t agree more. 

 

Our ethos has always encouraged family involvement and many relatives have been part of day-to-day life on the estate for years, from helping to plant out the gardens to running poetry reading groups. But there is always more we can do. Once it’s safe to do so, it’ll be time to up the ante!

 

‘Don’t leave me behind’

To this end, we have teamed up with the University of Surrey on a project called “Don’t leave me behind”, which will look at strengthening social connections between all the generations of a family through shared real-time, interactive experiences. As an example, if an elderly relative is unable to attend a wedding, a member of the family will be able to wear a lapel camera with an in-built microphone and speaker that will live-stream to a tablet or TV and allow two-way conversations, enabling relatives to be “present” in more than just spirit. 

 

The project is currently in a bid for funding, but, in the meantime, we are looking at ways in which families can record personalised video podcasts that we can play to their relatives.

 

They might record their favourite place to walk the dog using a GoPro camera, or even a conversation around the dinner table - normal, everyday activities that might seem mundane to most of us but have the potential to make their relatives feel involved in family life again.

 

If you’d be interested in seeing life on our estate in more depth, please don’t hesitate to contact us to arrange a virtual tour.

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3rd August

Reflecting Back on Summer at the Estate

Here at the estate, we love embracing all seasons; and as we edge closer into the autumn months, we’re taking some time to reflect over the fun we had during the height of summer.

 

As the weather began to warm up, our lovely residents loved making the most of our beautiful outdoor spaces. Some of our residents found pleasure in maintaining our gardens, whilst others enjoyed picking fresh flowers from our on-site fauna.

 

Two elderly ladies enjoying garden space at care home

It was wonderful to see everyone enjoying the warm weather, and taking the opportunity to get some light exercise and fresh air. 

 

Stuart, our general manager, was kind enough to get behind the wheel of our buggy and take our residents on a ride around the estate. It’s safe to say that they made a few furry friends along the way!
 
 
 If you’d like to find out more about what we’ve been getting up to at the estate, be sure to check out our social media channels.
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21st July

7 Simple and Effective Ways to Improve your Mental Health

In testing times such as these, it’s not just our physical health that becomes vulnerable. Our mental health suffers, too, and often we don’t realise it’s happening until negative emotions begin to surface.

 

In fact, new research has shown that on average, mental health has worsened by 8.1% as a result of the pandemic, according to The Health Foundation.

Lady looking out to the sunset on edge of lake.

 

This means that it’s never been more important to look after our mental health, and that of our loved ones. So, how can we ensure that we’re setting ourselves on the right track?

 

Keep reading for 7 simple and effective ways to improve your mental health today.

 

1. ENJOY THE PRESENT

Living mindfully and savouring the present is one of the best ways to improve our mental health. Reliving painful past experiences, as well as worrying about the future cause unnecessary bouts of anxiety and depression to surface.

 

As we let our thoughts drift to negative experiences and thoughts, we’re actively bypassing what’s happening in this very moment - a moment you’ll never get back. When you notice your thoughts drifting, try the following steps:

• Sit in a comfortable position, and close your eyes.

• Relax your muscles, and pay close attention to what’s going on around you; notice the smells, sounds, and the feel of your clothes against your skin.

• If it helps, imagine yourself in a peaceful setting - this could be a beach, or a rainforest.

• If you notice your thoughts beginning to drift, accept them and slowly let them wash away as you bring your attention back to the present.

 

Trying this mindfulness exercise can help train the mind to focus on the now - something that many of us find difficult to do when we’re surrounded by everyday distractions.

 

You can adopt this approach during your everyday activities, too. Next time you head out for a walk, try walking in silence for a while and pay close attention to everything you pass; you’ll likely notice things you haven’t before.

Gentleman walking with his dog.

2. GET THOSE ENDORPHINS FLOWING

Endorphins, our ‘happy’ hormone, are essential to life. They allow us to feel positivity, hope and joyfulness - all of which contribute to a healthy state of mind. 

 

One of the easiest ways to release more of this happy hormone into our internal system is by staying active. You might, for example, try heading out for a brisk walk, or engaging in some stretching activities that promote healthy blood flow. 

 

3. FALL IN LOVE WITH THE SMALL THINGS IN LIFE

When we can learn to appreciate the small things, such as the smell of freshly cut grass or the very first sip of fresh coffee in the morning, we create a sense of inner peace and gratitude that others may take for granted.

 

Since we live in such a fast-paced world, it can take some effort to slow down and find joy in our basic, everyday items/rituals - but doing so transforms our default mental state for the better.

Close-up of lady holding a cup of coffee by her window.

4. SHIFT YOUR PERSPECTIVE

Perspective is everything. It shapes the way we see the world, as well as our own individual lives. If you place a heavy focus on your misfortunes, for example, the world will become a solemn, untrustworthy place to be. In contrast, if you try to look for the positives in every situation and focus on the good things that happen to you, the world will become a better place in your eyes - and you’ll likely find that your relationships with others will improve, too.

 

5. BE THANKFUL FOR YOUR STRENGTHS

Too many of us focus on our weaknesses, forever hoping to improve several aspects of our physical and mental being. Whilst it’s healthy to have goals, it’s never healthy to place all of our attention on what we can’t do.

 

Instead, focus on and celebrate your strengths. Perhaps you’re a keen learner who always likes to try new things, or you have an eye for fine art. Whatever it is, be thankful for your innate talent and put it to good use whenever you can.

 

6. ENJOY MORE INTIMATE RELATIONSHIPS

Strengthening our relationships is an easier task for some than it is for others. However, doing so can have a profound impact on our mental health, giving us more socialising opportunities and the chance to develop deeper bonds. As humans, we are naturally sociable creatures; we crave the company of others, and when we’re deprived of this, feelings of loneliness tend to surface.

 

Next time you’re feeling like you could benefit from the company of a family or friend, try picking up the phone and giving them a call. Alternatively, you could head out to a local group/club in your community and form new friendships.

Elderly lady and young lady on a video call.

7. RESTORE YOUR INNER PEACE

Once you have found inner peace, feelings of stress and anxiety will start to melt away. One of the most effective ways you can do this is by learning to forgive.

 

Forgiveness does not always come easy, and a large part of it depends on circumstance. But what many of us fail to realise is that suppressed anger and resentment for an individual or past event largely contributes to generalised anxiety and stress on an everyday basis.

 

If you can, try to forgive and let go at least one thing that’s causing you to feel unpleasant emotions. It’s a kind of therapy that we can do to ourselves that brings us mental and emotional relief.

 

At Huntington and Langham Estate, we’re doing everything we can to keep spirits high at our home during these unprecedented times. From welcoming our new PAT dog to celebrating #GladtoCare Week, we’ve been spreading cheer in abundance. 

 

To find out more about what we’ve been up to, take a look at our social channels. Alternatively, click here to speak to a member of our team.

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10th September

What is holistic nursing care? | Huntington & Langham Estate

At Huntington and Langham Estate, it’s amongst our values to take a holistic approach to the care we offer our residents. We place equal importance on treating our residents with respect as we do on creating a happy, friendly environment. Just as in holistic psychology, an approach which emphasises the ‘whole’ rather than the sum of its parts, holistic nursing care takes a ‘mind, body & soul’ approach, rather than focusing on an illness alone. Holistic nurses see the body, mind, soul and the environment as interconnected, instilling overall values of unity and humanism into the care they provide.

 

Carer and resident relationships

Holistic nursing care very much focuses on the relationship between the carer and the resident. The holistic nurse’s aim is to heal the whole person, rather than focusing solely on a problem area. This means ensuring the individual’s mental health is sound, in addition to ensuring they’re experiencing adequate social interaction, gentle physical exercise, nutrient-dense meals and time in the outdoors.

 

Holistic nurses are also encouraged to practice self-care so that they can provide high-quality care themselves, whilst taking time to understand their residents in-depth so that they can provide individualised care.

 

The mind, body, spirit and environment

An individual’s environment has an overall effect on their health. In order to experience maximum health and happiness, individuals need sufficient access to nature, as well as healthy foods and likeminded individuals with which to spend time. Encouraging residents to take up new hobbies instils a new sense of purpose, as does spirituality; all of which can be experienced through activities to develop fine motor skills, such as knitting, gentle yoga and meditation.

 

Perceiving the mind, body, spirit and environment as interconnected is key to ensuring that each of these aspects is met through everyday care and activities. Many of which can be achieved by establishing a strong, trusting relationship with residents, allowing their voices to be heard to create an effective, tailored wellness programme.

 

Individualised care

Taking a holistic approach allows carers to provide more in-depth individualised care, tailoring the care plan to the individual’s personal needs, whilst paying close attention to their quality of life. Holistic carers can help promote healing through helping individuals make the right lifestyle choices for them, whilst involving their personal beliefs in the treatment process. An individualised care approach emphasises the importance of a holistic carer and resident forming a strong relationship, in order for them to gain maximum health benefits and feelings of wellness.

 

We take pride in our holistic care approach at the Huntington and Langham Estate, always striving to meet the most intricate of individual needs. To find out more about the care we offer, please click here.

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Respite-care-and-day-care
11th July

What's the difference between respite care and day care?

Whilst caregiving can be rewarding, it can also be extremely demanding – both physically and mentally. When a loved one becomes ill, it’s almost by instinct that we want to take care of them – but in doing so, it can be all too easy to forget about our own health and wellbeing, particularly if this is juggled alongside a full-time job and looking after children. Taking time out to look after yourself, as a carer, is important for your caregiving responsibilities, since being exhausted can prevent you from providing the best care possible.

 

Respite and day care options can be ideal for those who both provide and require at-home care, giving the carer a much needed break and their loved one opportunities to interact with others whilst receiving support.

 

Respite care

Respite care options are ideal for carers who are looking to take a short break away from their day-to-day responsibilities. Available for 1-4 weeks at a time, respite care at Huntington House and Langham Court offers full-time care to those who need it, allowing their carers to take some time out. Whether you’ve planned a holiday or you’re needed elsewhere at short notice, respite care offers help in both emergency and pre-planned situations.

 

At The Huntington and Langham Estate, we realise the importance of carers dedicating some time to boosting their own physical and mental health. Carers can relax in the knowledge that their loved ones are looked after in their absence, as they’re offered an exciting selection of activities, freshly cooked meals with locally sourced ingredients and beautiful gardens. We encourage all of our residents – no matter their length of stay – to get involved and make new friends, whilst being as independent as possible.

 

Day care

Similarly to respite care, day care is usually given as an opportunity for at-home carers to take some time out for themselves – a day at a time, rather than a whole week or more. At Langham Court, we open our day care doors twice per week, welcoming people from all walks of life who need extra support with daily routines. Our day care service provides visitors with opportunities to meet new people, a nutritious three course meal, refreshments and homemade cakes. We like our visitors to feel part of a community, no matter their length of stay.

 

Although caring for a loved one is an important responsibility to take on, you should never feel that it has to consume your whole life, or feel guilty for taking time out. Your health and wellbeing, as a carer, is equally as important. To speak to a member of our team about our care options, please click here.

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