Visiting a family member in a care home can be an emotional experience. It can, of course, bring lots of happiness and joy but it can also be extremely tough. Seeing your loved one in a setting that isn’t their home, with lots of potentially poorly people around them can really take its toll and leave you with lots of difficult emotions to process.
To try and make visits as positive and enriching for everyone involved, it might help to approach them with a bit of a plan. Of course, visiting just for a cuppa and a chat can be lovely! But sometimes you might find if you’re well prepared, you’ll come away feeling more positive about your visit.
Here are a few things you might want to try next time you visit your loved one in their care home.
Careful planning can go a long way! Be mindful of your loved one's routine and preferences, and try to align your visit with a time that's best for them. You can double check with the home what time they serve meals and if they have any activities/entertainment planned for that day.
Bring Comforts from Home
Familiar items from home can provide a sense of comfort and security for your loved one. Photographs, for example, are a fantastic way to get a conversation going and to take a trip down memory lane. If your loved one likes doing puzzles or crosswords, bring some along! You could even create a little box especially for your visits that includes some nice things to do together.
Books are another lovely way to spend some time – if your loved one is unable to read or communicate anymore, why not read them a few chapters from their favourite book? The sound of your voice will be a real comfort, and they may well recognise the story and characters.
When you visit, try to focus on being fully present with your loved one. We all know how tempting it can be to check our phones but if possible, try and put it away and forget about it while you’re spending time together. Give them your undivided attention, listen attentively, and engage in meaningful conversations.
Why not have a think about what you’d like to tell your loved one ahead of your visit? Being prepared with a few stories and anecdotes can really help to keep conversation flowing.
Participate in Activities
Most care homes offer a variety of activities for their residents. Joining in these activities together can be a great way to spend time with your loved one. Whether it's playing games, attending a music session, or simply going for a walk in the garden, participating in activities together is a really special way to spend your time while visiting.
Bring Tasty Treats!
Bring choccies, biscuits, or anything else that might brighten your loved one's day. It's a simple gesture that you can enjoy together!
Be Patient and Understanding
Visiting a family member in a care home can be emotionally challenging. Be patient and understanding, even if they struggle to remember things or express themselves the way they used to. Your presence alone can provide huge comfort and reassurance. Hold their hand. Let them know you’re there.
Reflect on Your Visit
After each visit, take a moment to reflect on what worked well! You can pass this on to other family members and friends who might be visiting soon!
Visiting your loved one in a care home can be tough, but it’s important to remember that your presence, your stories, your treats, or simply you being there to hold their hand can make all the difference.