To look at the ever-growing size of modern care homes you could be forgiven for believing that size is important, but for whom?
Large corporate bodies who now dominate the market argue that being large allows them to care for people regardless of their needs. However, many feel this flies in the face of both common sense and a growing body of research that agrees that size is important, but that being small, not large, is what matters.
From the common sense perspective, we all feel most comfortable in small groups of people we know and typically feel some form of stress when amongst strangers. We also like being with people like us. This being the case, on what basis can large homes be better for us?
One body of thought is that they are better because they have the flexibility to still care for us should our needs change, but there is now a substantial body of knowledge that suggests that this creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. Being close to people with higher-dependency holds a possible vision of our future constantly in front of us, and where they exhibit aggressive behaviour, the resultant stress can also accelerate our own decline.
A care home that has taken this to heart is Priors Mead in Reigate which has remained deliberately small and specialises in clients with similar care needs. Whilst this policy means that approximately 10% of their clients outgrow the home’s ability to cope, the result is a place that clients are happy to call ‘home’, but what about the few who have to move?
Whilst any move has risks, to have gone straight into a home that was able to care for their increased needs would have been a very traumatic experience, and at least in the meantime they would have enjoyed a home that they were able to feel comfortable in.