3.1 Moving on
It is useful to think about moving into residential care as a transition. As you discovered in the previous section, transitions are significant events in a person’s life, which mark one ‘stage’ or period of life from another: starting or leaving school is one example, becoming a new parent is another. These are major changes that can affect how the person sees themselves. Life changes and transitions can be experienced both positively and negatively, and often bring with them a mixture of gains and losses. Moving home at any age can have an emotional impact, especially when people feel a strong attachment to where they live. The first activity will help you to start thinking about this.
Activity 8 Losing your home
Imagine that you suddenly have to leave your home without knowing if or when you’ll be able to return. You will be moving into temporary shared accommodation, with limited space. Add your responses to the questions in the diagram below.
You may have found it difficult to imagine how you would feel in this situation. You might have mentioned feelings of loss, fear, anxiety, anger or sadness. There would be a loss of familiar routines. You might lose contact with friends and neighbours, and miss seeing familiar faces in shops, at bus stops or just going about your day-to-day life. Change is not just about loss, however: perhaps you also identified positive emotions associated with meeting new people or moving on from unsupportive situations.
What would you take with you? Apart from essential items, you probably mentioned small reminders of home, practical things that make you feel comfortable, or keepsakes that summon up happy memories. In other words, you might take things that reflect your identity.
In the next activity, you focus on the lives of three people who have moved into Drummond Grange, a care home that provides residential nursing care and support for both younger and older adults with physical disabilities, or long-term health conditions, such as multiple sclerosis. The activity is split into two parts: the first focuses on the experiences of people moving into a care home, and the second invites you to think about your response to what you have seen and heard.
Activity 9 Supporting people with transitions
In Part 1 of this activity, you will consider the impact of moving into residential care on service users and their families. You will also think about how professionals can provide support.
In Part 2, you reflect on your own feelings when hearing about the experiences of residents and their families.
Watch Video 6 featuring Maria Hutchison, the manager of Drummond Grange Care Home, in which she talks about the transitions people go through when moving from their homes into residential care.
Transcript: Video 6 Maria Hutchison: supporting people through transitions
Now listen to Audio 1 featuring Maria Hutchison and Rose Guthrie (the home’s counsellor), where they talk about some of the feelings and anxieties of residents and their families. (We apologise for the background noise on this recording.)
Transcript: Audio 1 Supporting people with transitions
Finally, complete the following table.
|The issues to consider when working with people moving into residential care|
|The losses that individuals may experience when they enter residential care|
|Positive aspects that residents may experience as a result of the transition|
|The feelings that a new resident’s family may have about the move|
|Identify two learning points for your social work practice|
Responses to transitions vary, so it is important to listen to residents and carers. Counselling may help residents and their families to cope with change. Support from other residents can also help people to adjust to a new environment. Maintaining links and interests supports self-worth and a positive sense of identity.
The losses that a resident may experience when they move into care include:
- family support
- a relationship with a spouse
- sexual contact.
Transition isn’t all about loss: Bill appreciated the enabling design of Drummond Grange; and Elizabeth embraced the sense of community that she discovered there.
Close family members and friends may experience feelings of guilt on the move to a care home. Many feel relief when the decision to enter care has been made. Residents may find it easier to accept their situation than the family members who have previously cared for them.
Here are some points that a social work practitioner would need to consider:
- offering support to a new resident can ease the difficulty of the transition
- it is important to be alert to the mixture of feelings aroused for both residents and those in their support network (family, friends and carers)
- there will be variation in what residential homes can offer, and Drummond Grange’s resources may not be available everywhere.
Write a few notes about your own feelings on hearing the experiences of residents and their families.
The audio and video clips may have evoked powerful feelings if you have experience of your own relatives moving into residential care. Or you may have thought about your own ageing and future needs. This kind of social work can stir up strong personal emotions in the practitioner, and it may be helpful to discuss this with a trusted colleague or member of your close network.
There is no doubt that, for the Drummond Grange residents, moving into a care home was a significant life event to which they had to adjust. This can apply to people of any age – in the audio clip, you heard Rose Guthrie refer to transitions for younger disabled adults. Drummond Grange provides an example of very high quality residential care, but in any setting it is helpful when the staff understand that entering a care home is a time of transition.