Flowers, pets, music and sweet treats are all great gifts to take when visiting your loved one in a care home. Read our blog to find out why.
Moving into care is going to be a struggle for anyone, no matter what age. The struggle may start trying to establish continuing care funding or it could be finding the right home for your loved one. However, there are plenty of things you can do to make the transition feel a little easier and help your loved ones feel as at home as possible.
Regular visits can be nice, but there are some finishing touches that you can bring with you that’ll transform their day and put a smile on their face. In this article, we offer you some recommendations for items that’ll make your visit one for them to remember.
“Music can spark joy in the face of those who may feel at their loneliest”
Music can be a trigger of memories, can remind someone of a wonderful moment in their life or just brighten their mood – making it a common object of choice for those visiting a loved one in care. There are plenty of ways that you can introduce music back into their life, a radio, cd player or even a record player can be great choices.
Radio is perfect for those who feel lonely easily, giving them a voice to listen to and a form of companionship. A radio is also a great way for those who struggle to sleep to unwind, inducing restful and peaceful sleep, so the benefits are really endless.
A record player could be a great option for those who may have had their own record player in the past. Playing with the records and listening to their favourite music could be really nostalgic to them and improve their mood no end – it can also give you both something to bond over on your visit.
“Firstly and foremost, the most important thing you need to bring when visiting a loved one in a care home is you. Your time. That is the most precious thing. If you want to bring something on top of this, here is something which I know is useful and would lift their mood – music. A radio, a CD or a playlist of their favourite songs or artists.” Says Jenny from Midwife and Life.
2. A Bird Feeder
“A bird can be a subtle reminder of one’s home comforts”
It may seem like an odd one, but introducing a bird feeder into a loved one’s garden can be a real treat for a loved one in care. Whether it sits outside their window in a nearby garden or sticks to their bedroom window, birds can often be a reminder of home and bring a sense of comfort. Residents can watch the birds feed on the feeders, interact with them and top up the food when required, which also allows them to get a little exercise.
“I would also recommend taking a bird feeder that sticks on the outside of the window, they will love seeing the birds come to feed.” Says Jenny.
“Smell is one of the most powerful senses and one that can trigger distant memories”
Smell is a powerful trigger and like music can bring nostalgia and happy memories from past experiences. We spoke to Kim Wilson from Dirty Thirty Girl who takes scented products with her when she visits her Nana in care: “Moving into care after 60 years in her house was devastating for my Nana so I try to take little things to bring a sense of normality. The smell of Imperial Leather soap and the pink, Euthymol toothpaste that she’s always used to make the bathroom feel like hers.”
There is an abundance of products you could bring along with you that will offer a comforting fragrance that won’t perish like real flowers. Plug in air fresheners or diffusers, reminiscent soaps, bath products and calming essential oils are all possibilities and can all introduce a calming and soothing fragrance into a room.
4. Flowers and Plants
“Bringing colour to a room can brighten their day like nothing else”
Flowers are the perfect way to brighten up a room and people be say bright and bold. Whether you opt for a vibrant bunch of lilies or a long lasting plant, it is bound to brighten their room as well as their mood.
“I sometimes take a new plant or flowers brighten my Nana’s room, and her mood, so that she doesn’t miss her garden.” Says Kim.
Jenny recommends taking artificial flowers so they last longer: “Silk flowers or artificial plants are a great option. The air is very dry in a nursing home so artificial flowers and plants are best. It is beneficial for people to have greenery and flowers around them as it lifts their mood.”
5. Sweet Treats
“A sweet treat offers a taste of happiness on the darkest of days”
Sweet treats are often a popular choice to take along on a visit, whether that is their favourite sweets, biscuits for them to share or a cake for them to enjoy, they’ll be able to enjoy them with their friends and be reminded of you. It is sometimes a nice idea to get the sweets or chocolates wrapped so your loved one can enjoy the process of unwrapping their own gift. “I take sweets or biscuits so she can go share them with people if she’s feeling lonely.” Says Kim.
“A pet can be the truest companion a human can have”
People going into care often have to leave their beloved pets behind. These pets can be their only form of constant companionship so this can be the hardest thing to leave behind. If it is possible, bringing a calm pet with you can be a great idea, even if it is not their own pet, the interaction can be really empowering.
Kim often takes her dog with her when visiting her Nana: “When possible I take my dog (and once a Shetland pony) because I knew they would make a lot of people very happy.”
Being able to stroke, feed or even walk a pet can bring happiness to many in care homes, but it is important that the pet is calm and settled as anxious pets can create a nervous and unsettled atmosphere. Many care homes offer pet therapy, so it might be worth speaking to a supervisor at the care home to see if this can be arranged if you do not have your own pet to bring. Alternatively, read one of our latest blogs all about pet therapy and its benefits.
We hope this blog has given you plenty of options to consider when visiting your loved one in care, no matter what you choose to take, your company is going to be enough to make their day a whole lot better.
What to bring on your weekly care home visit:
- A Bird Feeder
- Flowers and Plants
- Sweet Treats
Author: Tim Davies LLB