5 things my visit to a care home taught me
What comes to mind when you think of care homes for older people? As someone who had never set foot inside a care home before, my visit to The Beeches in Leatherhead forced me to rethink all my preconceptions.
Having initially trained as a journalist, I am curious and inquisitive by nature. So, when I was asked if I wanted to visit The Beeches, an Anchor care home in Leatherhead to do some filming, I jumped at the chance.
Everywhere I looked, there were friendly faces
When I arrived at The Beeches, I was immediately struck by how warm the welcome from the care home team was.
Despite how busy they were, everyone took the time to greet me with a warm smile and a quick chat. Michelle the manager made time to make me feel at home and I soon got to see what care homes are really about.
What left the biggest impression on me was seeing how the team interact with residents. The care and attention they give is very heart-warming.
They were constantly making jokes, full of energy and were genuinely happy to be there, which created a warm atmosphere for everyone.
Life in a care home is busy and fun
One of the things that I was pleasantly surprised by was how the team at The Beeches keep its residents happy and active by getting them involved in fun physical activities.
While I was there I met massage therapists who had come to give the residents hand massages.
As someone who has had many hand massages, I'm a firm believer in the healing power of touch, so it was great to see residents being able to enjoy some therapeutic pampering.
Fitness and exercise are just as important to older people
One of the highlights of my trip to The Beeches was meeting Terry Keen, a 73-year old fitness instructor.
Having been appointed as our 10 Today ambassador, Terry has travelled across Anchor’s care homes, helping residents to keep fit and healthy.
During lunch, we spoke about all of the different physical activities he enjoys and his desire to explore Five Rhythms – a type of dance meditation I have been practising for the past six years.
Watching him lead a fitness class for residents with such passion and vigour left me feeling inspired.
Care homes are a great place for different generations to come together
Soon after I arrived at The Beeches, a group of school children from a local school came to make cupcakes with one of the residents.
Watching them interact made me realise how valuable intergenerational activities are.
As the children listened, one of the residents explained that she was originally from France and had met a British soldier during the war who she later married before moving to the UK.
A difference in age is no barrier to making connections
Just before I left The Beeches I met a 94-year old woman and quickly got chatting. She asked me where I was from and it turned out that she once worked in the hospital where I was born.
As we chatted, she showed me the knitted teddy bears she makes for women in hospital who have given birth prematurely.
Seeing this made me realise that older people have so much to offer and that life certainly doesn’t slow down once you enter a care home.