Improving the wellbeing of people in care homes

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published new standards to help care homes tackle loneliness, depression and low self-esteem in older people.

With the number of older people in the UK set to rise to 16 million over the next 20 years and more people living longer than ever before, NICE – the independent body responsible for driving improvement and excellence in the health and social care system – is advising that services should be configured to ensure they receive excellent care and support.

In 2011, there were slightly more than 10 million people over the age of 65 living in the UK, with more than 400,000 living in care homes. Care homes provide people with the extra support they need, but many are still not providing care that is focused on an individual’s needs.

The NICE standards recommend that older people in care homes are offered opportunities to participate in meaningful activities which promote health and mental wellbeing. In 2007, the Alzheimer’s Society highlighted that care home residents do not have the opportunity to take part in enough activities to occupy their time. A lack of activity is one factor that can negatively affect a person’s mental wellbeing.

Older people in care homes should also be supported to maintain and develop their personal identity. Focusing on the needs and wishes of an individual will help to promote dignity and respect and have a positive impact on their sense of identity and mental wellbeing.

“It’s important for older people to feel secure, happy and empowered to take control of their care wherever possible to give them the best quality of life,” said Professor Gillian Leng, Director of Health and Social Care at NICE. “We hope the standards we have published will give care homes the help they need to ensure they’re providing consistent, high-quality support for every person in their care.”

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