Co-Founder, Niche Jobs
It's easy to get caught up in routine when you work in a structured system. Care homes do need structure; you have too many important activities not to use it. Medication must be administered, food is needed and personal care must get done. You know your service users, their quirks, their expectations and their behaviours. At times, shifts run like clockwork, even in their unpredictability.
Structure is not always a bad thing but individuals cannot flourish without different opportunities to express themselves. They say 'a change is as good as a rest'. How can you spice up your service users' lives with an unexpected change?
Get online and share memories
The internet is a wonderful place for your residents to express themselves. Using unfamiliar technology can cause people to shy away from computers. However, the possibilities are so great that you owe it to yourself to give it a go!
Google Maps can be a lovely way of connecting with your residents. Perhaps they once lived in a different part of the country, in another country altogether, or had a holiday that they love to remember. With the Streetmap facility, they can even show you these places!
Alternatively, you could use Skype to keep in contact with relatives. So many people live in different countries and, with your residents likely on a budget, international phone calls are a real luxury. Half an hour on Skype to the daughter in Australia or the sister in Tanzania will make your resident's day – I guarantee it!
Finally, the absolute wealth of music available through services like Youtube, Spotify, Pandora, Grooveshark and Last.FM can inspire all kinds of activities. If you and your users can't think of specific artists, use Last.FM or Grooveshark to choose a genre and see what comes up.
Doing things like this will help your residents stay happy and fulfilled. They get to demonstrate their personality, it'll get them talking and you get to know how to work better with them by seeing what makes them tick.
The next time your shift is dragging and everyone's staring out the window, whip out the office laptop and get someone to show you something about themselves!