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Sparkles for the Whole Home

We have talked a lot before about the Whole Home Approach - we believe it is vital for the wellbeing of residents that they have frequent interaction, conversation and stimulation. Which is why we have developed something called the Whole Home Pack - special, role-specific Daily Sparkles with topical articles for all roles within the care home. Find out more about the hows and whys below.

Even with continual improvements to care for the elderly and those with dementia, there is still much to be done in terms of daily activities and interaction. Some recent research by Dr Graham Stokes found that out of a 24 hr day, residents slept for roughly eight hours, spent three hours in personal care, and two hours eating, leaving 11 hours of free time during which, on average, they interacted with other people for two minutes. Two minutes. That statistic is staggering. And alarming.

And it is the context behind the new Sparkles Training Day we have recently launched. Human beings just want the comfort of company, it’s a basic human need. And it’s what they should have. But it can’t always come down to activity coordinators, who are stretched thin anyway.

In our training course, we look at how to involve other members of the care home staff. If you can find a way for all the staff in the home to be part of your team, you’ve got a chance of making a much bigger contribution across the home. The Daily Sparkle is a very effective tool for homes in this respect - it’s so easy, and so simple for anyone to read and understand. It doesn’t present a big challenge for anyone, so staff throughout the home can operate within their comfort zone and build their confidence.

Care home staff don’t need special training to talk to residents, but they might need little prompts and ideas to get them started. That’s where the Sparkles come in. Aside from the regular Daily Sparkles which offer a wealth of nostalgia topics for them to discuss, we have developed job-specific Sparkles, that will tap into your staff’s interests – be it food and drink, gardening, nature, domestic life, and other role-related topics. It’s called the Whole Home Pack.

The Whole Home Pack doesn’t get introduced into a home until they have been using The Daily Sparkle for some time (ideally around three months). Being used regularly in the home, non-activity staff will become accustomed to seeing The Sparkles around, they may even have a look at them and develop an interest in reading them. When The Sparkles have become established, it is time to use the Whole Home Pack. These special, role-specific Daily Sparkles have been made for all roles within the care home – manager, carer, domestic, admin, reception, nurse, housekeeper, cook, maintenance, hairdresser, and gardener. In each role, what will be of enhanced interest to them will be articles about their particular job as it was 50, 60 or 70 years ago.

As an example, the cook will be given a Daily Sparkle which features popular meals of the 1960s – chicken in a basket, prawn cocktail etc, an article on bone-handled dinner knives and an article on post-war rationed tins of dried egg. There’s also a quiz and, on the back page, Carers’ Notes. They are subtly becoming familiar with The Daily Sparkle.

Once we’ve piqued their interest, we also include a letter addressed particularly to them in which, in a gentle and nonthreatening way, we include a description of how The Sparkles are being used in the home to help residents not feel lonely. At the end of the letter we say something along the lines of: “ Many of the residents here will have worked in the catering trade. Do you know who they are or what they did? Chances are they’d love to have a short chat with you and/or your kitchen staff.”

Early results from our Whole Home Packs are very encouraging. We’re not talking about instant transformation, but what is happening is that some conversations are happening where they were not occurring before. It’s always the first conversation that is the hardest. Once that first chat has happened the second is easier and the third and subsequent interactions become ever easier, to the point that they are simply the norm.

The staff gain because there’s more job satisfaction – and they’ve made a difference. And the residents gain new friends, new conversations – and above all that vital stimulation, interest, enjoyment and fun. It’s a win-win for all concerned.

For more information on our Whole Home Packs, email

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