Care Homes and Community

Scotland’s shift towards delivering more support for older people in a community setting has led to lengthy debate and discussion on the future role of residential care. There has been a national push to ensure that care homes don’t become ‘islands of the old’, but are seen as community assets integrated into daily life.

The future of residential care report highlighted the importance of community involvement to encourage more volunteering in care homes. It also placed emphasis on the importance of flexibility from the Care Inspectorate when it came to registered care homes providing an outreach service to non-residents in the local community.

As it’s Care Home Week, we thought it was a good opportunity to flag our 2014 project with Ardenlee care home and Scottish Care, and to highlight the learning and tools that could be used by other care homes around similar initiatives.

Sunday lunch club

The idea for Ardenlee was simply to invite isolated older people in the community to attend a Sunday lunch and afternoon of activities at the care home. At the time of the project, Ardenlee was experiencing lower occupancy, which prompted management to reflect on the role of the care home going forward. Aware that the landscape of care was changing, they wanted to start exploring other ways they could be using the space they had available.

The work aimed to:

  • Dispel myths associated with care homes: that they are just places people go to die
  • Support older isolated people in the community to access social/peer support in a safe setting
  • Raise the profile of the care home’s respite service among the community as a place where people can maintain their independence
  • Explore alternative uses of long-term residential care homes to begin to plan for the future

Eligibility criteria was developed for the Sunday lunch club to ensure that they were able to meet the outcomes of guests without compromising the quality of care for their residents.

What worked?

  • Engaging early with residents, families and staff about the idea to understand their hopes and fears as well as give them some ownership of the process.
  • Engaging with the community (including the befrienders, Crossroad Carers and various care at home providers) to understand what was available and where the gaps were.
  • Building a robust business case with associated risk assessments. This included looking at all the policies in the home and considering how they may be impacted by the lunch club. This supported the case for the Care Inspectorate and helped management understand impact.
  • Identifying a geographical catchment which was enough to include some very rural areas, but still manageable in terms of transport.
  • Meeting with the local care inspector to pitch the idea and work together to make sure the service could work in a way that meets care standards.

Are you interested in opening up more in the community? The full project story provides further learning, details of the outcomes for the residents / guests, and helpful tips.

You may also be interested in our Outcomes in a care home setting cards to support delivering outcomes-focused care.