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What will care homes be like in the future?
Modern technology is everywhere, and it’s changing fast too. Google’s voice activated Google Assistant and Amazon’s Echo were some of the biggest sellers last Christmas, and it is predicted that the voice recognition industry will be worth some £450 million by next year. The internet in general has taken over our homes, with almost 90 per cent of adults using the internet on a regular basis.

And it’s not just young people who are benefitting from new technology either. Recent statistics show that around four in every 10 over 75’s have used the internet within the last three months, and that internet use among women aged over 75 has trebled since 2011. With all this technology at our fingertips, it makes sense for care homes to look at ways that new innovations can improve the experience for their residents too. 

Our technology right now 

Here at Fernhill House, we are proud to embrace many of the latest technological innovations to help our residents stay connected, challenge themselves and live better. Already in place in our home are things like: 

· Acoustic monitoring: This technology allows our care team to monitor residents during the night without the need to undertake intrusive periodic room checks. 

· Electronic Care and Medication Management software: These innovations efficiently record key information at the point of delivery, allowing our teams to spend more quality time with our residents. 

· Maintenance and Health and Safety Software: Ensures compliance and identifies best practice.   

· IT Suites and Wi-Fi: Our home has high-speed Wi-Fi throughout, along with tablet computers for use by our residents. With our help, they are able to Skype relatives, look up information and send emails on a daily basis. There are also PC’s for use in our modern IT suites. We offer support and silver surfers workshops to help residents understand how to use them, so that they can reap the benefits of a more connected lifestyle.

· Cinema: We have a full in-home cinema for residents to watch movies on the big screen with family and friends. 

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg. As new technology is developed, we are constantly assessing what could benefit our residents. 

What will care homes look like in the future? 

There is much research taking place into how new technology can be adapted and used in the care setting. Some of the most exciting things we’ve heard about include: 

· Assistive technology: As virtual assistants such as Alexa become smarter, their usefulness can be augmented. In a care home, these could be employed to remind people to take medication, to help them locate lost items, to communicate with a carer of family member, or even to sound an alarm in case of an emergency. 

· Administration assistance: Electronic documentation systems can make it easier and faster for care workers to administer their services. Paperwork in care can be a heavy burden, so any technology that can relieve workers of this burden could see more people with more time to devote to caring, instead of being tied up filling in forms. 

· Ambient monitoring technology: We want our residents to be safe and well, but we also want to help them to remain as independent as possible. Ambient monitoring technology can let them do more for themselves, without being put at risk, so that they can cook, move around and undertake other tasks, all whilst under the watchful eye of a completely unobtrusive safety system. 

· Smarter homes for less mobile people: With the ability to integrate voice activated technology into virtually any device, the possibilities for residents to have more control over the environment, even if they are severely mobility impaired, is truly exciting. Simply asking their assistant to ‘open the window’, ‘turn off the light’ and ‘play something by Mozart’ could see a whole world of new possibilities arriving for our less mobile residents. 

· Wearable health monitoring: Already many of us track our heart rate and steps each day with fitness trackers, so it’s only a small step forward to see these devices tracking respiration, fluid retention and other medical conditions. This could reduce the need for hospital admissions, and lead to faster diagnosis and earlier intervention. 

There are many more exciting innovations on the horizon, from robotic suits to help stroke victims walk to holographic virtual pets; the future of care homes is looking very exciting indeed. However, as we always stress to anyone talking about investing in technology, tech should augment care, not replace it. Nothing in the technological world can ever provide what a well-trained, motivated care assistant can, but it could make their jobs easier, allowing them more time to engage with residents in a meaningful way.

Three great ways to combat loneliness in old age
Feeling lonely might not seem like a major issue, but the knock-on effect can be worse than you think. Being socially isolated is more than just an emotional experience and can actually be harmful to heath. Research equates a lack of social connections to have a similar premature death risk as smoking around 15 cigarettes a day, and to have a greater impact on overall health than obesity and physical inactivity. 

If you’re feeling lonely, you could be jeopardising your physical health as well as your mental wellbeing, so it’s important to recognise the problem and to make changes to tackle it. Here are three great ways you can combat loneliness and start enjoying your golden years just a little bit more. 

1. Get involved! 

We are always trying to find new activities and initiatives for our residents to enjoy. Even if the activity isn’t something that you’d normally choose to do, why not see it as a chance to try a new experience, to connect with new people and to enrich your day. 

2. Open your door to friends and family

Just as we do in our homes, welcoming visitors, whether it’s your family or friends; extending an invitation is always encouraged. You’d be surprised by how many people would love to come and enjoy a cup of tea and a chat with you! 

3. Learn to use technology 

Even if the internet remains something of a mystery to you, there are so many ways to make use of this fantastic communication facility. From easy-to-use tablet computers to voice-activated messaging services, finding your way with modern technology could help you stay in touch with people more easily, particularly if your family lives far away. 

Loneliness should not be seen as just a normal part of growing older. If you feel lonely all or part of the time, it’s crucial that you recognise the signs, and talk to someone sooner rather than later. Everyone feels lonely from time to time, but when you feel lonely more often than not, it’s time to take steps to get your life back on track. 

The importance of visitors and community in care homes
The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) have recommended that older people in care homes are offered opportunities to participate in meaningful activities which promote health and mental wellbeing. This means not just doing a half hour exercise class each morning, but actually working with our residents to get them involved in activities which enable them to live life to the fullest. We’re not interested in just ‘going through the motions’; we want to put on activities that really get our residents inspired. 

To this end, our team work tirelessly to secure inspirational speakers, entertaining guests and expert coordinators to run sessions and activities that our residents love. These activities are just not just for fun; they are an integral part of keeping older people well and active. Here’s why they’re so important. 

· Beating loneliness: It’s all too easy for an older person to shut themselves away in their room, content to avoid social interaction out of shyness. But loneliness has been shown to have a significant negative impact on both mental and physical health, so we work hard to draw everyone out for a bit of fun. Our recent Burns Supper featuring professional piping by Eric Dougherty was a prime example of how we got everyone together (plus family) for a real community celebration! 

· Challenging mental degradation: Keeping residents mentally active can stave off the progression of dementia and Alzheimer’s, as well as reducing depression and promoting self-confidence. We’re always keen to challenge our residents, with our regular afternoon quiz providing mental stimulation for all. Our many different guest visitors help to engage residents with their memories and experiences, such as this session involving creative writing of a poem about World War I. 

· Staying physically active: We believe in staying active in older age, no matter what your level of fitness or ability. We’re not talking running marathons here, but gentle, appropriate exercise to maintain good flexibility, stamina and health. Activities such as our song and dance session with Dave Dawson help to get residents up and moving and having fun, keeping hearts healthy and faces smiling! 

· Providing purpose (and fun): Even in older age, people love to feel useful. Having our residents help with the care of nursery children, helping to prepare food for special events or even simply giving them the ability to shop for new clothes despite their limited mobility lets them have fun and feel that life has a purpose, no matter how challenging times may be. 

· Helping them stay connected: We know that every one of our residents had a whole life outside of Fernhill, and that many still do. That’s one of the reasons we operate a fully open-door policy, allowing visitors to come and go as they please and to drop in on their loved ones when it suits. As much as we work hard to develop fun filled activity programmes for our residents, sometimes nothing beats a visit from your own family! 

We know that visitors and community events are absolutely crucial to the success of our home, and to the health and wellbeing of every one of our residents. If you’d like to find out more about how to get involved or what we have planned in the coming weeks, simply get in touch with our friendly team.

Regency School visit
We had a wonderful morning today as the children from Regency school came to visit.  Residents were delighted to see the children and interact with them.  
Fernhill’s ‘Project Outstanding’ is proving a huge success 
Fernhill House has launched a campaign to ensure residents continue to have a fun and meaningful time every day.   

Project Outstanding is named in celebration of the Care Quality Commission’s Outstanding rating, given to homes which go beyond what is expected of them and a target towards which Fernhill is working.   

This weekend’s launch of ‘Clovers Cream Tea Sundays’ as part of its Life History project, is one of a wide range of fun, interesting and sometimes unusual activities which take place at Fernhill House.   

After the Sunday March 4 inaugural event, the regular activity will see residents, their families and the Clover team spend a few hours together to delve into the incredible lives experienced by those who live at Fernhill House.     

Memory care lead Paul Turvey explained: “It's a time for families to meet each other, share experiences and memories and most importantly, support each other.   
“Our Clover family are incredibly special to us and we are always trying to find new ways of providing the very best in person centred care. I am fascinated by the life history of our family of residents and believe it is of the utmost importance for us to understand a resident’s background in as much detail as possible, to really fine tune the perfect care for them.  

“Our specially trained staff will be on hand to offer help and advice if needed – and provide the scones of course! We hope as many of our families possible will join us for the fun and laughter and be part of creating great memories and something very special.”   

Fernhill House has also been bathed in the beautiful sound of piano music – thanks to resident Sheila,  who has been practising her skills on the baby grand which has moved to a new location in the bistro.   

The newly formed bridge club is going from strength to strength, a decoupage event brought out the creative side in many residents and regular exercise classes are proving quite a draw.   

Check out the Fernhill House Facebook page for regular updates on Project Outstanding activities.