Over three-quarters of residents and relatives have given care homes in the UK a top rating for Dignity, according to new research, which shows that the two key areas where care homes need to improve are Activities and Nutrition.
The study by carehome.co.uk, the leading care home review website, has found the areas where care homes excel are Dignity and Staff, with 82 per cent of residents and relatives rating them as excellent. Seventy-nine per cent gave care homes a rating of excellent for Care and Support closely followed by Management at 76 per cent.
However only a half (52 per cent) of residents and relatives rated Activities in care homes as excellent and 64 per cent gave Nutrition in care homes the top rating.
In the wake of the research, we are urging care homes to improve their activities programmes, with one in 10 (11 per cent) saying activities in care homes were 'very poor', 'poor' or 'satisfactory'. Just over a third (37 per cent) said they were 'good'
There are currently over 24,500 reviews of UK care homes on carehome.co.uk.
Activity programmes should be integral to all care homes, according to The National Association for Providers of Activities for Older People (NAPA) which has found that care homes that enable residents to participate in regular activities help to reduce the likelihood of residents suffering a fall, losing their independence, or getting depression.
Stimulating and getting people living with dementia involved in activities has also been found to improve their wellbeing and reduce agitation.
By asking what people enjoy doing, care homes may find they have a group of people who enjoy quizzes and they can put on an evening quiz for them. The problem is homes often have a set programme instead of responding to what people want. The challenge for many care homes is to make this huge cultural change, according to NAPA.
Sylvie Silver, director of NAPA, says: "As a charity we are working hard to help more care homes improve their rating. We know that having a skilled, qualified activity specialist makes a difference and we are keen to see every care setting have one on the team even if they don't employ a dedicated activity coordinator. Our aim is for every care home to be full of life, love and laughter."
NICE developed quality standards covering the 'Mental wellbeing of older people in care homes' in 2013, stating that older people in care homes need to be offered opportunities during their day to participate in meaningful activity that promote their health and mental wellbeing.
Meaningful activities are defined as those that provide emotional, creative, intellectual and spiritual stimulation.
Over 80 per cent of people in care homes are estimated to have dementia, according to the Alzheimer's Society, and keeping people with dementia occupied with meaningful activities can prevent them from becoming lethargic, angry and frustrated. People with dementia may need more support so they can take part in activities but getting them involved can help them retain important skills and keep them motivated.
As someone who has worked for a long time in the sector, and who has had personal experience of a loved one living in a care home, I know just how beneficial activities can be for residents.
With this in mind, we launched Care Home Idol to promote activities in care homes due to the impact they have on residents' mental and physical health.
In many care homes, activities are an integral part of a resident's care plan and dedicated activity coordinators are becoming increasingly important. However, we would like to see more care homes in the UK prioritising activities and improving their current programmes so that even more homes can be rated top in this category.