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Care homes can be a positive experience says Dr Lynda Shaw

care homes can be positive imageArticle by Dr Lynda Shaw

Recent problems reported in the press about poor standards of care in care homes is causing families to overly worry about choosing care homes for their loved ones, according to age specialist and psychologist Dr Lynda Shaw.

I believe the positives of entering a care home far outweigh rogue stories about the unacceptable and sometimes appalling care some unfortunate individuals have received in care homes. The horrors of the lack of care or poor standards by rogue care home workers are often isolated incidents that unfortunately happen in all aspects of our society. What is horrifying about them is that it is affecting some of the most vulnerable people in the country.  However, a degree of understanding that these are unique cases and the vast majority of care home assistance is extremely positive needs to be highlighted before it truly affects the way our society views care homes.

Although time is needed, going into care could be seen for many as the ‘next positive stage’ of their lives. My research has led me to find whilst there is a psychological adjustment that needs to be made if an individual considers care homes to be at the final stage of their life, the vast majority are able to focus on the benefits of entering care, not just for them but for their families too.

Caring for older family members often results in time off work and unnecessary stress between relationships. Clients no longer have to rely on their family and family members no longer have to worry about fitting full care into their busy schedules and time together tends to be of higher quality,” Care homes can make clients and their families feel liberated.

Relationships between family members can often improve once the extreme burden of looking after someone full time is lifted.  It is near impossible to hold down a full time job, look after a young family and provide full time care to a parent for most people.

Care homes can help prevent isolation for older people

Isolation is also often associated with ageing. This can easily be resolved. Older people can see going into a care home as entering a community of like-minded people.Those suffering from dementia still like to be with other people and care homes provide regular interaction and a bustling atmosphere.”

My own research has shown that the baby boomer generation are looking for care to be a socially stimulating experience and homes should be aiming to fulfil this generation’s full potential not drain them.

I have been talking to various wonderful care homes.  If your care home offers a variety of care options from short and long term residential care to nursing and specialist services and the right people have been recruited then a care home could be a wonderful place for your loved one to live.   Always ask around.  Talk to other families when you visit a care home and ask their opinions.  Trust your instinct to know if this is the place for your parent and go bearing a list of questions and gauge the atmosphere.  See if your chosen care home offers the activities that your loved one is interested in.  Chances are that a care home could be the perfect place for your mum or dad.


Dr Lynda Shaw

Dr Lynda Shaw has lectured in Psychology and Neuroscience at Brunel University and conducted research on brain function and impairment, specialising in consciousness, emotion and the effects of ageing

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