The pressure is certainly on care organisations to find ways of maintaining existing levels of care given to residents while staffing levels may be significantly restricted.  Whilst we cannot offer a “physical” additional pair of hands, we can certainly make suggestions regarding the environment that could promote more independence for many, giving staff time to focus on supporting those in most need.  A good dementia-friendly environment should certainly be treated as another member of your team:

Tip 1:  Orientation

Can your residents find the toilets without help?

Have you ever considered how much time is taken every day in taking people to the toilet, managing personal care, laundry and additional cleaning from incontinence episodes?  If installing good quality toilet signs results in just one person being able to maintain/regain their ability to use the facilities unaccompanied, the time saving could make a huge difference.  Think about the agitation caused by incontinence too and the resulting care required to resolve the situation.

Toilet signs can have a self adhesive backing and therefore very quick and easy to fix (at 1.2m above the ground).

Toilet seats and handrails are stock items and can be delivered next day

Tip 2: Nutrition & Hydration

If you haven’t already considered introducing contrasting coloured crockery, now might be the time to try it for yourself – we are sure you will be pleasantly surprised.  People with sight impairment cannot see many foods on a white plate and therefore need help with feeding.  Inability to see food can not only result in malnutrition but also cause avoidable distress as people know they are being given food and not an empty plate.  Support is often required at mealtimes, but with limited staff to offer help and a restriction on visitors and volunteers, the more people who can be encouraged to eat independently, takes pressure off staff, but also offers a more social dining experience.

Clear glasses with water are invisible, so either offer juice that can be seen, or use coloured glasses for water which are also visible.  Coloured mugs with large handles, with our without dignified lids, can also encourage drinking as the highly visible mug acts as a reminder to drink and a good design mean less support is required.

Dehydration, as we all know, can affect a person’s health very quickly and cause avoidable health issues that will put additional pressures on care staff and ultimately the NHS

Find Dining and glassware are stock items that can be delivered next day

 Tip 3:  Social Interaction and exercise

In times of pressure, these may be the first things to be affected, as important “tasks” such as toileting are likely to take precedent.  Leaving people sitting in the same place for long periods of time will inevitably result in increased levels of agitation and distress.  When residents walk around the environment, do not tell them to go sit back down as this will not calm them, but require more care and engagement from staff.  Instead, try creating additional seating areas (bus stops work really well and are easy to install).  Take time sitting with them in these areas to understand what they are looking for and how you can support them – they may just need a hug  as are missing a loved one (past or present).

If you have unused rooms or spaces, it would be great to open up little cafe areas as alternative places to spend time.  You may think you don’t have time to arrange these, but in the long run they are time savers as residents are more active, relaxed and independent.  Places such as cafes, bars and bus stop have proven to create great spaces for interaction as they are natural, recognisable places to have meaningful conversations.

Please call for advice

Tip 4:  Activities

Without regular contact with friends and relatives, emotional ties will be restricted, causing increased levels of unrest and it may be really helpful for many residents if they can transfer their emotional needs through behavioural activities.  Doll therapy, robotic cats and dogs have a very positive effect on many people with dementia.  They act a little like that emotional blanket that makes a person feel safe and needed. Other products that offer low levels of stimulation and are proven to reduce stress include fiddle muffs and aprons and our NEW Bud fiddle cushion   Again, the knock on effect of such interventions will take pressure off staffing demands.

A full range of products are stock items and available for next day deliver.  We are happy to discuss your requirements