Caring for the elderly is a fulfilling but sensitive duty. Nursing homes have to constantly devise new means to keep the elderly comfortable and happy. It’s not always easy to get them to follow a daily routine that’s suitable for their current state of health. A lot of elderly people who are admitted into care facilities suffer from dementia, with Alzheimer’s accounting for about 60 to 80 percent of all cases . They suffer a decline in memory and the inability to perform daily functions efficiently. They are sensitive to certain sights, sounds, and environmental conditions. Dementia can’t be cured but can be managed by therapy and changes to lifestyle.
Care providers are trained to be more cautious and gentle with dementia patients. They require a lot of assistance in performing their daily activities and most times, they don’t know when it’s time for certain things such as bathing, eating, or sleeping. Alzheimer’s, especially, is associated with a disruption of the normal sleep-wake cycle and is believed to be caused by brain cell deterioration .
Administering sedatives every day can be potentially harmful to the patients, and it’s much safer to come up with natural means to get them to sleep at the right time.
Everyone gets in their jammies
The Old Vicarage Nursing Home in the United Kingdom came up with a very simple idea to help their beloved patients sleep easier, and it’s been working effectively so far. The care home works on with the Butterfly Model of Care, a system that’s focused on empathy and where the emotions and feelings of the aged residents are considered before everything else. The staff is required to dress in warm clothes to avoid provoking, terrifying or upsetting the elderly.
“The uniform requirements are that I give staff 30 (pounds) to buy a range of casual clothing which may not be abusive or have scary images on them,” said Kamal Siddiqi, owner of the care home to Hello Care . “Night staff buy dressing gowns and pajamas. The idea came from staff attending training by David Sheard’s Dementia Care Matters model of care.”
It’s easier for the residents to get ready for sleep when the staff is doing the same. They don’t have to be cajoled or persuaded so much. The pajama strategy serves as a reminder that it’s time for everyone to get in their warm, comfy sleepwear. Psychological therapy is part of the care routine for dementia patients, and visual cues are great for helping patients perform daily activities more easily.
A cardboard statue of a man brushing his teeth in the morning, a wallpaper of a lady at the sink washing her hands after using the bathroom, and playing a short clip of people getting into soft, comfy beds when movie night is nearly over – visual cues are a powerful way to help patients suffering from memory decline to live a more normal life.
Happy in their new home
According to Kamal, the no-uniform policy downplays the unhappy feeling of being in an institution on the elderly, enabling them to relate better with the staff.
“Wearing casual clothing is part of a method of de-institutionalizing the environment in which the residents live,” said Kamal. “It means that the care home doesn’t feel like an institution for both staff and residents, which helps to reduce the kind of behavior that can occur in an institutional environment. We found it was easier to encourage residents to go back to bed in the evening when staff were wearing dressing gowns and pajamas.”
Everyone at the care home, both staff and residents took to the idea immediately and fell into place with it. The families of the elderly were happy with the administration for constantly working out ideas to keep their loved ones happy and healthy.
Care homes don’t necessarily have to go for high-end technology to help the elderly get around better. If the funds are available, there’s nothing wrong with bringing in soft, human-like robots to cradle the residents when it’s time to sleep (the care facility would then become ridiculously expensive). However, the simplest and most cost-effective changes can go a long way to make life better for everyone. Something as minor as wearing a pair of pajamas during the night shift is cue enough for the residents to go get ready and turn in for the night.
“I would say the resident’s favorite thing about the old vicarage is the range of activities we do and the fact it doesn’t feel like a care home,” said Kamal. “The staff enjoy trying new ways of making the residents feel better and happier.”
- “What Is Dementia? Alzheimer’s Association. Admin.
- “Sleep Issues and Sundowning.” Alzheimer’s Association. Admin.
- “Nursing Home Night Staff Wear Pyjamas To Encourage Residents To Sleep.” Hello Care. Jacob Neeland. Jul 25, 2019.
- “The Old Vicarage Nursing Home.” Care Home.
- “The Butterfly Model Of Care: “This Is How Aged Care Should Be.” Hello Mail. Caroline Egan. January 8, 2019.