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Supporting older people with learning disabilities and their families
Supporting older people with learning disabilities and their families

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2 Supporting Susie to live well

Living well means feeling at home surrounded by the things you love. The nursing care home is welcoming and friendly. The staff know Susie well and helps her create special spaces that are hers. The approach is underpinned by a value-driven culture of person-centred support. Being involved in making decisions about what you do is vital to living a good life. Susie is involved in decision-making in all aspects of her life and her views and wishes are listened to by the staff team. The care provider is committed to facilitating changes to accommodate her views and wishes wherever possible.

A series of illustrated storyboards. In the first, a woman in a wheelchair says ‘I’m Susie. I want to tell you about my support around getting older to another woman who says ‘I’d love to hear about that!’ In the next, Susie is outside a building and says ‘I live in a nursing care home in this lovely bungalow’. In the next, the other woman says ‘It’s nice and green around here. Do you live alone?’ to which Susie says ‘I have housemates. But I have my own bedroom of course!’ In the last you can see Susie’s room, with a bed, bedside table and lamp, and pictures on the wall.

Activity 2 A good home

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Read the account of a clinical lead nurse talking about the care home and what they are doing to help Susie to live well.

Identify three things the support team are doing to help Susie to live well.

While you read try to imagine yourself in a similar living situation. What would you want the supporting team to do to help you live well?

Clinical lead nurse

I’d like to describe it as a home, somebody’s home rather than a care home. It’s the client’s home. I think we do quite well at making it homely and making it seem like their home as much as you can when you’ve got staff in and out, obviously in your home, you wouldn’t have staff walking around and some things you have to do that you wouldn’t do in your home to do with infection control and just the policies and procedures. It’s hard to think how I’d describe it to somebody other than quite homely. But also quite clinical, we are quite clinical as well. But try to make it not seem clinical at the same time I guess because it is a home. So we are doing some quite clinically skilled things but not in a necessarily very clinical environment such as like a hospital.

Susie has made her bedroom her own space:

A photograph of Susie’s bedroom. There is green and pink floral wallpaper on one wall. With an adjustable height bed, hoist on ceiling tracking and circulating fan standing on the floor beside the bed.
Photograph of Susie’s bedroom. Two chests of drawers displaying photographs of Susie and her family, and a wall mounted television

Clinical lead nurse

Yes. So, she’s got some wallpaper, which is the wallpaper she chose. She’s got quite a lot of pictures up, and she’s got two lamps now and one new one she got for a birthday. And then she’s got little bits up on the wall that her sister-in-law makes because she goes to this craft group now, so she’ll make little bits and she’s got them up as well. Susie’s got green and pink wallpaper.

And Susie has her own space in the shared lounge:

Photograph of Susie sitting in her wheelchair watching television on a tablet.

Being person-centred as much as you can - obviously as I said before there’s some things that have to be done because of the fact it is a care home. There’s policies, procedures there’s different things that we have to do in certain ways but as much as possible to make them person-centred, to make, to look at each client as a whole, as a holistic thing rather than looking at one problem that they’ve got and trying to sort that problem because it isn’t just that that could be causing it. It’s the whole thing.

Susie, she’s … able to look to the future, tell us what she wants to do, tell us the things she’d like to try out. And it’s about offering, once we’ve spoken to her about things perhaps that she might like to try we might pose things to her, would you like to look at this? Would you like to do that? And she’ll say to us oh I’d like to do this, and we’ll put those wheels in motion for her.

Now read the field notes that the researcher made after visiting Susie:

Susie surrounds herself with important objects. She often sits in her wheelchair facing away from the other residents and next to a big bay window recess. In the recess are framed photos of her family, vases of flowers and several hand-made cards. Her sister-in-law makes the cards, which her brother writes to Susie every week. She has a table that has on it a chosen photo (today it is a signed photo of the actress Miranda Hart) and her iPad and headphones, which are all pink, her favourite colour. Susie is often hugging a small satin cushion that has a photo of her mum on it. She wears lots of rings, one of which contains some of her mum’s ashes. B (Support carer) goes over to Susie and asks if she’d like a picture on her table. Susie chooses Miranda Hart. B says ‘How could I forget? You love her. Shall I sit with you for a while and chat about her?’ B sits very close to Susie and chats about the TV programmes Miranda Hart has been in and what is so lovely about her. They have a very quiet and intimate chat for about 20 minutes.
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In supporting Susie to live well the team strive to create a balance between the requirements of a clinical environment and those of a homely environment. They actively support Susie to create a bedroom which reflects her choices from the floral pink and green wallpaper, with soft cushions and bedding and personal space in the shared lounge displaying treasured photographs and craft creations from her family. They support Susie to maintain positive relationships with her family and provide person-centred care. Perhaps you also identified these as things the supporting team could do to help you live well.

In the next video, you will hear Ben reflecting on how staff are supporting Susie to live well.

Download this video clip.Video player: gopa_2_session5_video2.mp4
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As Ben identified, Susie has a good home: she is supported to live well by well-trained staff who recognise and understand how to care for Susie’s mental and physical health, and the impact these aspects of her health have on each other.