Pubs, cinemas and chickens: five things you wouldn’t expect in a care home
June 2016

Pubs, cinemas and chickens: five things you wouldn’t expect in a care home

For Care Home Open Day, we celebrate the diverse range of facilities you can find in modern care homes

The words “care home” can conjure up an image of bored older people sitting around in armchairs in a drab living room.

But modern care homes are challenging those stereotypes, and are much more likely to come equipped with all sorts of facilities – from pubs to cinemas – to help make residents feel more at home and encourage positive interaction between residents, staff and visitors.

It’s Care Home Open Day on Friday, so here are some surprising things you might find in a care home.

A pub

Staff at Northbourne Care Home were looking for new ways to provide a stimulating environment that was meaningful to their residents, and came up with the idea of a pub which would hold themed nights, quizzes and bingo. The Anchor opened in 2014 and has proven extremely popular with residents.

One of them, Joan Harle, 85, says: “It’s a very good thing to go to on a Friday night – it helps you mix as you could sit with someone you haven’t sat with before. It’s a social thing like if you were out with friends at the pub. You can also have a drink if you wish, it’s excellent.”

It’s also popular with families. Amy Rushworth, activity coordinator, says: “We often have families join us at The Anchor for a quiz and at the themed nights. I feel it is important to encourage families to come along, join in and have some fun if they would like to with their loved ones.”

A synagogue

Jewish Care has 11 care homes in London and the south east and each has its very own in-house synagogue. Services are run by dedicated teams of volunteers and family members are actively encouraged to attend with their relatives.

Jamie Wilford, 13, chose to bring his barmitzvah to his grandma’s care home as she was unable to travel to his local synagogue. Staff, residents and volunteers were invited to celebrate with the family afterwards. Michael Ross, a regular volunteer, leads services in the synagogue at Betty and Asher Loftus Centre in Friern Barnet.

He says: “It is such a pleasure to see younger and older family members of my family sitting with the residents. Women will light candles for the sabbath and say blessings as they have all their lives and will say prayers over wine and bread before enjoying a Friday night traditional meal, which families often join them for. It is part of keeping them connected with family and identity.”

A chicken run

HenPower, a project delivered by arts organisation Equal Arts, had humble beginnings. Douglas Hunter, co-director of the charity, explains: “We were working in one care home where a resident kept talking about missing his ‘girls’. Staff came to realise he was referring to his chickens and asked if we could help. We bought six hens and set up a coop in the garden with staff and residents taking on the roles to look after the hens.”

The charity developed a weekly programme of creative activities around the chickens, including feather printing and creative writing. The project proved so popular that Equal Arts took it to other care homes. Since 2012, HenPower has been rolled out to more than 50 care settings across the country with providers including Orchard Care, Akari Care, Housing & Care 21 and Bondcare.

A coffee shop

When Waypoints, which provides specialist dementia care in Devon and Dorset, decided to open a new care home in Upton, it worked closely with the local town council to identify community benefits for the redevelopment. Two retail outlets were included in the plans – Costa Coffee moved into one of them. While it is separate from the care home, the cafe has become the most popular place for families of residents to take their loved ones when visiting.

Managing director Andrew Baxendine says: “We do have some nice restaurants in the home and we do encourage people to use them but the Costa Coffee has a big pull and most families enjoy taking their mum or dad there when they visit as it’s out of the home.”

Waypoints Upton also includes a hairdressing salon and a traditional sweet shop, while a vegetable garden is being built in collaboration with a neighbouring school.

A cinema

Three times a week at Lakeview Care Home in Lightwater, Surrey, residents pile into the home’s very own cinema to watch a film. By far the most popular film is the Wizard of Oz, with Les Misérables and Mamma Mia also drawing crowds.

When not used for films, the room is used for karaoke nights, pub quizzes and weekly debates on topics such as the EU referendum. Darren Hill, customer services manager says that the cinema and activities provide a chance for positive interaction every day as well as giving residents something to talk to visitors about.

“They can be in a bit of a bubble as so much of their time is spent just in the home so it’s important for them to still be able to hold conversations with their families about what’s going on in the world or the latest film they have watched,” he says.