Leaders from health and social care pledged to improve quality of life in care homes at a summit opened yesterday by The Princess Royal, Patron of the College of Occupational Therapists at the Skills for Care London offices. Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector of adult social care, Paul Burstow MP, care home managers and staff attended the College of Occupational Therapists’ Improving activity in care homes’ Summit to help reduce hospital admissions and preventable health risks in residential care.
Sharon Allen, Chief Executive for Skills for Care said:
“The College of Occupational Therapists’ Toolkit is an excellent resource for social workers who will benefit from occupational therapists’ expertise and experience within care homes. The easy to use toolkit also links to the qualifications we have developed with the sector to reward the efforts of activities coordinators who do so much to promote wellbeing through the provision of activity that supports older people to stay fit, well and active.”
Julia Scott, Chief Executive, College of Occupational Therapists said:
“Access to activity and meaningful occupation must be integral to the commissioning of safe and cost effective care for older people in care homes. Good care means more than helping people to get washed and dressed, and attending to basic needs. It is essential we support people to carry out activities they enjoy, engage in purposeful tasks, and make the most of social opportunities available. Without this, we are denying them quality of life.”
The College of Occupational Therapists has argued that regular, person-centred activity should be mandatory in all care homes in the UK as part of the daily care home routine. The Living Well Through Activity in Care Homes Toolkit produced by the College has shown to have a positive effect on care homes residents improving their mood, levels of activity and social interaction. It has also reduced the need for medication in some cases.
Karin Tancock, Occupational Therapist and author of the Toolkit said
“More occupational therapists are needed in care homes to help staff provide meaningful and personalised activity for residents. Care home staff are not the underclass, they are doing a vital job caring for the most frail and vulnerable in our community and need more support to help residents carry out activities and meaningful occupation. Keeping active and occupied is crucial for people in care homes who risk serious health complications if they are left with nothing to do. People need activity, it is simply vital for a healthy body and mind.”
The Living Well Through Activity in Care Homes Toolkit is a best practice guide for families considering residential as well as a benchmark for healthcare professionals working in the sector. It focuses on people’s individual needs and preferences, promoting dignity and choice for care home residents, including those with dementia. Free training materials and audit tools are available to review and evidence care and the Toolkit indicates where the specialist intervention of occupational therapists is required. The Toolkit has been endorsed by a number of leading health and social care organisations: Alzheimer’s Society, Care England, Care Inspectorate, Skills for Care, Age Cymru, NAPA, Carers Trust, British Geriatrics Society and Carers UK.