Mental health issues can affect all people of any age, whether they have a young family or are living in a care home. Time to Talk Day, which took place earlier this month, encourages people to be more open about mental health and talk about their experiences.
In 2017, the World Health Organisation reported that globally around 15 per cent of adults aged 60 and over suffer from a mental disorder. Older people can also experience increased risk factors for poor mental health, including reduced mobility, frailty and loneliness.
Moreover, in 2019 it was revealed that depression affects four in ten people living in care homes. A further report highlighted that up to 2.6 million older people were suffering with depression serious enough to impair their quality of life.
It is clear that action needs to be taken to address the prevalence of poor mental health in older people, particularly those living in care homes, and this is precisely what Sanctuary Care is doing to help enrich the lives of its residents.
At Ravenhurst Residential Care Home in Stourport-on-Severn, an open door policy is operated regarding mental health, with staff working hard to help residents address any issues they may be facing.
One of the residents, Rita Hardiman, credits her three years at the home with a dramatic improvement in her mental health. The 74-year-old said: “Just before I moved here in December 2016 I was suffering with severe depression, to the point that I could no longer walk.
“I had also had a nervous breakdown in the past and had even made a suicide attempt. I was so lonely.
“The love, kindness and care I was shown when I moved to Ravenhurst began to lift me out of the dark place I was in. I’ve built a fantastic relationship with Dani, the activities coordinator, she has been invaluable for boosting my mental health.
“When I fall down and say ‘I can’t’, there’s always someone there to pick me up and say firmly, ‘you can’. I’m really living a wonderful life and moving here was the best decision I’ve ever made, for both my physical and mental health.”
And it’s not only at Ravenhurst where mental health is of paramount importance. At Brambles Residential Care Home in Redditch, the activities coordinator Fiona Morsy arranges for local schoolchildren to spend time with residents, with one lady teaching the youngsters how to knit.
Fiona said: “Building bonds with a different generation really helps to boost the residents’ mental health; they really feel they’re giving something positive back to the community.”
Further afield in Essex, the team at Don Thomson House Residential Care Home in Dovercourt have launched ‘Friendship Fridays’ in partnership with two local organisations, United in Kind and FaNs (Friends and Neighbours) Essex.
With the first session set to take place to mark Time to Talk Day, staff and residents will be inviting the community in to chat over coffee and cake.
“Everyone has mental health”, said Rita Hardiman, the resident from Ravenhurst who has been helped so much since moving in.
“Talking is absolutely vital, otherwise the problem can fester inside until it becomes a serious situation. No matter your age, releasing the thoughts to someone you trust is such a relief.”