Creating a Home Away from Home: Best Practices for Long-Term Care Environments

Written by Alisa Matsushita-Bomba & Reviewed by Gurnoor Mand

As people age, they face the decision to move into a long-term care facility. For some, this decision is not a difficult one, while others may find it to be a challenging transition. One of the most important aspects of long-term care is the environment. Making the living space a home-like atmosphere and making your loved one feel comfortable there can help to ease the transition for residents and improve their overall quality of life.

Personalizing The Space:

One of the simplest ways to make a long-term care environment feel like home is by decorating the living space. This can include hanging up family photos, adding favourite blankets or pillows, and other meaningful items. By allowing residents to create a space that reflects their individual tastes and interests, they can feel more comfortable and at ease in their new surroundings. It's important to note that personalization should be encouraged but not forced. Some may not want to decorate their space, and that should be respected as well; it's up to the individual to decide what feels right for them.

Encourage Socializing In Common Areas:

Being in areas where residents can socialize, watch television, play games, or read books can help to foster a sense of community and belonging. These spaces can also help to create a more home-like atmosphere by providing spaces where residents can relax and interact with one another. Getting the chance to chat with other residents can make the older person feel welcomed in their new environment. 

Encourage Engaging In Their Hobbies And Other Activities:

Engaging in meaningful activities is an essential part of creating a home away from home. Hobbies like reading can be done on your own while arts and crafts, physical exercise and educational programs can be done as a group. Some activities can be offered by the care home at certain times of the day. This allows residents to engage in activities that they enjoy and makes them feel connected to their previous lives.

Having Nutritious And Delicious Meals:

Meals are an important part of daily living. Eating nutritious and delicious meals can help to create a sense of comfort and familiarity, especially with dishes that have been made before moving to a care facility. Bringing comfort foods to your loved one can be a good way to help to create a home-like atmosphere.

Going Outside:

Access to nature has been shown to have numerous health benefits, including reduced stress and anxiety and improved overall well-being. It is important to enjoy nature in a safe and comfortable way. Walking paths, benches, and shaded areas can help provide safety and accessibility for older adults. If they are not able to go outside, decorating the space with greenery and plants indoors can be a good alternative.

Accessing Technology:

In today's world, access to technology can be incredibly beneficial for human contact and engaging in meaningful activities. Being able to access computers, tablets, and other devices can help residents stay connected to their friends and family. 

Taking Care Of A Pet:

Pets can provide comfort and companionship for residents, and many long-term care facilities are now allowing residents to have their pets with them in their living spaces. For facilities that cannot allow pets, pet therapy programs can also provide the benefits of animal companionship. Pet therapy involves bringing animals, such as dogs or cats, into the facility to interact with residents. This can help to reduce stress and anxiety and provide a sense of comfort and connection for residents.

Visit Them Often:

Staying connected with loved ones is important, even if they are now living in a long-term care facility. Visiting your loved one often can help to maintain your relationships and provide a sense of comfort and support.

Helping an older person move into a long-term care facility can be a major life transition for them, but it's important to focus on the positive aspects and take steps to make their new environment feel more like home. These helpful tips can improve their quality of life and make it easier to transition to this new chapter in their life.

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