As summer begins, it’s important for care home owners and managers to prepare for the warmer weather. Whether it’s exploring new opportunities for residents to enjoy the climate, cost-saving solutions or risk awareness, find out all you need to know in our seasonal advice.
The mid-year heat is always a welcome time of the year, as it follows the gloomy winter months and spring’s April showers. This creates the perfect opportunity for care homes with access to a garden or outdoor space to make the most of the weather, with fun activities, exercises and entertainment.
However, the rising temperature can also be a hazard for vulnerable residents, as well as carrying a danger of over-exposure to direct sunlight. This makes it crucial for care home management teams to be aware of the risks that any planned summer fun can hold and to create a safe environment for their residents.
Cost-effective outdoor activities for care home gardens
For care homes that have a garden or courtyard, the summer period is a great chance to make these available to residents and their loved ones. Regular time spent in nature has been found to be beneficial for physical and mental wellbeing for seniors, according to a study by the University of Minnesota. So, with the right planning and preparation, outside spaces can provide both enjoyment and a form of therapy, without needing a big investment of time or money.
The simplest way to utilise a care home garden for the summer is to create a seating area with some outdoor furniture, where residents can sit or relax with each other, care home staff, or with visitors. If your care home is practising strict Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) measures for visitations, this also creates an ideal, outdoor environment for residents and loved ones to meet and reduces the possibility for virus transmission.
For budding horticulturists and flower fanatics, providing garden planters or flower beds that care home residents can help to cultivate creates an interactive, communal activity that is both engaging and inexpensive to manage — whilst adding a great, natural touch to your care home!
Some other, quick and cost-effective care home garden activities include:
- Organising walks
- Hosting an outside tea party or meal
- Physical activity sessions, such as yoga
- Holding outdoor craft workshops, such as painting
- Arranging a live musical act or play
Preparing your care home for the summer heat
A rise in temperature can bring a host of new opportunities and challenges that care home management teams must consider during the season. This includes creating the right environment for residents whilst indoors and ways to increase resident comfort during hotter days.
If your care home has an air conditioning system, it’s important to check that it is functioning properly and whether it may require regular maintenance to avoid any costly surprises. However, with increasing 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. This includes creating well-ventilated areas that have ample shade both inside and outdoors, so that residents are able to enjoy – or avoid – the sun during the day.
For care home residents that 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.
Keeping care home residents hydrated in case of heatwaves
Hot spells can have an impact on resident hydration – and especially so if there are any weather warnings or heatwaves predicted. Ensuring regular hydration is hugely important for resident safety, as it can affect residents who are sensitive to heat, or have medical conditions that require a higher intake of liquids.
The 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 true for visitors, so having the right solutions 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:
- Introducing a lighter summer menu, with cool salads, soups or sandwiches that are better suited for the hotter weather
- 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
- Removing thick quilts and blankets from beds
- Applying sun cream regularly – especially for residents who are enjoying garden areas.
More advice for care home managers and staff to support vulnerable people before and during a heatwave is also available from Public Health England.
However you plan to make the most of the hotter weather, 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, then book a free 15-minute 121 with us.