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Television in Care Homes

Television in Care homes how can this help with challenging behaviour?

Did you know that 90% of challenging behaviour is caused by the environment and people?  (E.Bawley)

Find’s team are often asked for help in enhancing various rooms and corridors in care homes and to make them more dementia-friendly, engaging and socially interactive.  It’s what we do best, but there is one room we certainly treat differently.

When asked what Find can do to improve the Lounge, we always ask one question:  Would you be happy and feel comfortable in this room if it was in your own home?  If the answer is NO, then it’s not good enough and needs changing.  The room should be a lovely relaxing space and not an overstimulating one such as corridors.  The Lounge should be a place of low stimulus and be set out, using colours, designs and furniture that make it homely.

There is, however, one modern change to many of our own homes that does not work in a care home setting.  Most care homes have installed the television high up on the wall in the centre of the Lounge and this does not work!

First of all, the television is too high for people to clearly see, as many elderly people, and in particular those with dementia, struggle to lift their heads (due to a curvature of the spine).

Secondly, in a busy lounge, the volume is a problem.  The television is hardly ever (certainly during the day) being watched by residents as they don’t have a choice on what to watch and they cannot hear it over the daily bustle of the environment.

Thirdly, people cause a problem!  Can you imagine watching your favourite TV programme and constantly having someone interrupt your viewing?  Your feelings of frustration, anger or simply disappointment – but at least you can express your thoughts through speech and actions that others understand!  In a care home, other residents, staff and visitors walking in front of the screen, talking and often stopping to block the view will cause the same feelings in residents but many will be unable to tell you and others will display behaviours that challenge!  So next time a resident becomes agitated and angry – don’t blame the dementia, think about your own behaviour and that of others in the area, there is usually a genuine reason for the distress.

Can Television in care homes improve this?

The most obvious answer is to move the TV into the corner of a room (in traditional style) and arrange seating so that only those interested in watching a particular programme are seated to both see and hear it, without disruption.

Another great idea, where you have space in a care home, is to create a pub/club style environment where your residents can meet with like-minded people and watch programmes they love.  The pub is great for everyone, and can be used for parties and celebrations throughout the year, a drink before dinner or a nightcap.  Male residents are often overlooked in a care setting and as many love sport, this is a perfect place to watch football, rugby and cricket.  Don’t forget many ladies love tennis too.  You have also created a perfect place for games such as darts, dominoes, cards or a fun afternoon of Beetle Drive that many residents will remember too.

Organisation is key to using the television in a meaningful way and displaying a What’s On this Week Board that is updated every Sunday/Monday keeps staff and residents focused and aware of what’s important every week and ensuring residents are ready and waiting for something they will really enjoy watching.

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