ENRICHEnabling Research in Care Homes
Tell Me More care home engagement project
Suzy Webster is the Care Home Network Manager at Age Cymru. She has led on the Tell Me More project over the last 18 months.
In this blog Suzy will introduce the Tell Me More engagement project. This project was funded by Welsh Government and aimed to gather insights into the lived experience of care home residents during the Covid-19.
The ‘Tell Me More’ engagement project was funded by the Welsh Government and aimed to gather insights into the lived experience of care home residents during the Covid-19 pandemic. The project was carried out by a team of five people: three artist practitioners, a Welsh speaking engagement officer and me. A total of 105 care home residents from over 22 care homes in Wales took part in this project.
The framework we used to guide our conversations with residents was the Senses Framework (Davies, Nolan, Brown, & Wilson 1999; Nolan 1997). The framework identifies the senses that research indicates are experienced in the best care environments and we have used these to categorise the findings from our conversations adapting it to meet the aims of the project and so we were consistent in our approach.
Security – to feel safe
Belonging – to feel part of things
Continuity – to experience links and connection
Purpose – to have a goal(s) to aspire to
Achievement – to make progress towards these goals
Significance – to feel that you matter as a person
To capture the conversations, we recorded the residents voice via Zoom, we recoded their faces in the form of 2D and 3D portraits so we could create a 13-minute film. Whilst all were willing to take part, some were nervous around technology, but all were willing to be supported to connect online. The portraits appeared to generate interest in the study as all residents’ received a portrait of themselves drawn by one of the artist practitioners. A few of the homes now have a Tell Me More gallery. For residents who have sadly passed away since the project, the portrait has proved to be a wonderful gift for families.
Tell Me More gave us the most valuable insight to the lives of care home residents during the Covid-19 pandemic . We were privileged to be welcomed into the homes (via Zoom) of the people who have been affected most by intermittent and extended lockdowns, continuous safety measures, restrictions, and being separated from those they love.
What residents told us
Many residents told us that they had little opportunity to talk about themselves, their lives, and their hopes for the future. They told us staff were busy and there was currently a lack of opportunity to socialise through activities due to infection control, health and safety, risk assessments and intermittent lockdowns. Securing trusted relationships had also been difficult through Covid-19 with staff recruitment and retention playing a part in some inconsistency within staff teams. Residents told us about some staff leaving during the pandemic, some working very long hours and all doing their very best to keep the residents safe and supported.
Our findings from the Tell Me More study highlighted the need for meaningful conversation in everyday life and how important it is for well-being. Through our conversations, we were made aware of the isolation faced by care home residents and at times the lack of opportunity to contribute to day-to-day decisions that currently affect their lives. We were privileged to follow the residents’ journeys through Covid-19, to listen unconditionally to challenges and frustrations faced. We heard heart-breaking stories of loss that demonstrate incredible resilience and, we were met with humour and hope even in the darkest of times. More details on this can be found in our summary report.
A very special thank you to all the residents, activity coordinators, care home staff and managers who have worked with us to make this project a success.