With summer not far away, now is the time for prudent for care homes and managers to prepare for warmer weather. Whether it’s setting up cool spaces for residents, cost-effective strategies to make the most of your outdoor spaces, or ensuring your residents’ wellbeing as temperatures climb, find out all you need to know in our seasonal advice.
The longer days and warmer weather are something most of us look forward to after the dark winter months and spring showers. At last you can open the doors to your care home’s garden or outdoor spaces to make the most of your outside facilities.
To help your residents and visitors make the most of the outdoors, you need to make sure everything is in good repair and looking it’s best. Additionally, as older people can find it more difficult to maintain their body temperature, there are some precautions you need to take to keep your residents safe throughout the warmer months.
Our guide will make sure your care home is ready for summer, and you and your staff are primed to ensure your residents can enjoy it safely.
Cost-effective outdoor activities to better residents’ wellbeing
The summer months give residents and staff the chance for a welcome change of scenery, by enabling them to enjoy any outdoor spaces your care home may have. In fact, regular time spent with nature has been found to have a positive impact on older people’s mental and physical wellbeing, according to a study done in The Netherlands. So with the right preparation, your outside spaces can be a source of both enjoyment and therapy without needing to invest a large sum of money, as well as providing a welcoming and relaxing space for loved ones to spend time with your residents.
Make sure you do your prep work: pressure wash patio areas to ensure they aren’t slippery and to make them more even for your residents to navigate when they are outside – as well as making the space more visually pleasing for everyone. As your care home’s exterior is likely to come under closer scrutiny than at other times of the year, now is the time to make sure that external surfaces – such as soffits, fascias, conservatories and window frames – are clean and well-maintained. Additionally, check over outside furniture to make sure it has survived the winter in good condition and is still safe and comfortable to sit on; repair or replace any chairs, tables and umbrellas that could pose a hazard to enable visitors and residents to relax in comfort.
Another way you can provide a fulfilling and enjoyable space is by creating a communal garden, ideally with raised flower beds to make it easier for green-fingered residents to tend. This activity would not only encourage them to enjoy the outdoors, but also to work socially with other residents. It’s also an inexpensive activity – whilst also adding flare to your care home. You could also plant a sensory garden to enable sight-impaired residents to enjoy your outdoor spaces, for example by planting fragrant herbs or grasses that rustle in a breeze.
Some other quick and cost-effective care home activities for the summer include:
- Organising walks
- Hosting an outside tea party or meal
- Physical activity sessions, such as yoga
- Holding outdoor craft workshops, such as painting
Preparing your care home for a warm summer
Rising temperatures can bring a host of new opportunities – but with these come challenges that care home management teams must consider. This includes creating the right environment for residents whilst indoors and ensuring residents’ comfort on even the hottest days.
If your care home has an air conditioning system, it’s important to check that it is functioning properly before temperatures really start to climb. However, with recent rises in energy prices, it may also be worthwhile looking at which doors and windows provide the best airflow through your care home to cool down inside spaces for residents who may be sensitive to heat; making sure you have cool internal areas will ensure residents are kept safe and healthy. This may also be the year to instal additional black-out blinds pre-emptively to keep fierce sun out during the hottest days, so that you reduce your need to rely on your air-con.
Looking after residents during heatwaves
Heatwaves and hot spells can have an impact on residents’ hydration – and especially so if there are any weather warnings or heatwaves predicted. Ensuring regular hydration is hugely important, particularly for residents who are sensitive to heat or have medical conditions that require a higher intake of liquids. As of now, there are no predicted heatwaves, but the Met Office is anticipating this could be one of the hottest years in the UK, making this all the more important.
Some risks that can be posed by a heatwave include dehydration, overheating, heat exhaustion and heatstroke – all of which can amplify existing medical symptoms that vulnerable residents may have. This may also be the same for visitors, so ensuring the right precautions are in place for both care home residents and their guests is vital.
There are a few simple but effective ways that care home workers can keep on top of resident wellbeing during a heatwave, including:
- Setting up hydration stations that have a variety of cold soft drinks and water, so residents are encouraged to stay hydrated with a preferred beverage
- Providing alternatives to cold drinks for residents that typically don’t drink a lot, such as ice lollies, ice creams and smoothies
- Introducing a lighter summer menu, with cool salads, soups or sandwiches that are better suited for the hotter weather
- Removing thick quilts and blankets from beds
- Summer clothing – ensure they have clothes suitable for warmer weather, so they don’t overheat
- Applying sun cream regularly – especially for residents who are enjoying garden areas
- Helping residents sleep – For residents who have difficulty sleeping in the heat, it may also be advisable to consider setting up shielded electric fans near their beds, as well as providing access to cool water or towels.
However you plan to make the most of the warmer months, we hope our seasonal advice has given you some inspiration. Our team of expert care consultants are committed to helping care homes improve, whether it’s supporting care management teams in implementing new systems for their staff and to create a better quality of care for residents, providing strategic guidance to care home providers and owners, or identifying innovative solutions that can help to improve care home commercials.
If you are a care home manager or provider who needs expert advice on how to prepare your care home for the summer or any other season, read our previous insights on how to prepare.