Living with the seasons in care homes
Care homes play a vital role in helping residents to experience the beauty and benefits of every season. By understanding the impact of each unique season on residents’ health and wellbeing and implementing thoughtful strategies, we can create a warm and nurturing environment that enhances their quality of life. So, for September, we’re looking back on summer and ahead to autumn to share how the seasonal changes can affect residents and what care homes like Birchwood House can do to harness the benefits of each season.
Summer: a season of vibrancy
The summer months are filled with longer days, warmer temperatures, and stretches of sunny blue skies. For Birchwood House residents, this means strolling the landscaped gardens, sitting beneath the sun’s warmth and taking in deep breaths of fresh summer air. The vibrancy of summer sun isn’t its only benefit, as we all know that exposure to sunlight also promotes production of Vitamin D. Taking advantage of this is a must as Vitamin D is essential for bone health, and also helps to regulate moods and boosts serotonin. Increased daylight is also thought to help improve sleep patterns by regulating residents’ circadian rhythm.
As beneficial as summer’s warm sunny days are, it’s also important to remember and mitigate the risks to mature adults. Keeping cool, hydrated, and sun-safe is a must when enjoying the outdoors this season. From sun hats to sun cream, ice lollies and cold glasses of water, Birchwood House residents and the team are always prepared to enjoy the season safely. For more on keeping cool in the summer, you can read this blog here.
For the days when heatwaves settle in and residents are best kept indoors enjoying a cool reprieve, summer-themed activities can help keep their cognitive and fine motor skills fresh. This could include painting seashells, making sun catchers, or creating collages with colourful magazine cut-outs to connect with summer and provide a sense of accomplishment. Exploring the manor house gardens and spotting any planted summer blooms or wildflowers is another simple way to connect with the natural world this time of year too. Lemonade breaks, ice-cream treats, or afternoon tea parties can also help residents engage their senses and experience the flavours of summer.
Autumn: a season of transition
Birchwood House residents have the pleasure of enjoying the autumn season from the warmth of the conservatory. The beautiful glass-paned extension is the perfect spot to soak up dwindling sunny days or shelter from the rain. Maintaining gardens throughout the seasons is also important to ensure that outdoor spaces are accessible and well-maintained throughout the year. Clear, well-lit paths and sturdy rails where steps are found are good for when days start to shorten during autumn too.
Another simple change could even be using seasonal scents like cinnamon and apple to create a warm, welcoming atmosphere for residents who enjoy engaging their practical senses. Activities like leaf painting, a cosy movie night, knitting, crafting clove-studded orange pomanders, or outdoor picnics are also immersive ways to make the most of the season.
Tips to take home
Seasonal eating is becoming more and more popular, and it’s something that we’re very mindful of here at Birchwood House. Considering what fresh produce is in season, looking for ingredients with low food mileage and supporting local producers is another great way to live with the seasons. With modern-day convenience, many of us eat the same things year-round because they’re generally accessible to us throughout the calendar year, whether they’re in season around us or not. Creating menus that are built around health, flavour, and seasonality is a great set of guiding principles and something that we prioritise for Birchwood House residents to enjoy a balanced and nutritious diet.
Seasonal activities are also a great way to connect with the natural world and enjoy the moment. It can feel hard to really be present, with life often feeling busy and our attention pulled between competing priorities. Small touches around the home that embrace the spirit of each season can provide visual cues that help residents connect with the changing environment and feel more immersed in the seasons. Focusing on a variety of indoor activities such as arts and crafting, exercise classes, and music therapy to keep residents engaged and active is also useful.
Regular wellness checks to monitor residents’ health is another great practice for care homes to adopt. For example, adjusting care plans to address any seasonal health concerns, such as respiratory issues during the winter. Temperature control is also something to be aware of during the colder months, ensuring that heating systems are functioning efficiently to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature.
Small changes can make big differences
Small changes and initiatives can help make every season a season of joy for residents. Being aware of the nuances of each quarter and helping residents to live with them can have great benefits for health, happiness and wellbeing. We’ll be sure to share a winter/spring follow up later in the year.