Collaborative Care

Experts from Exemplar Health Care explain how care groups can empower service users and improve their experience by involving them in the interior design process.

The transition into a care home environment can be a daunting step for service users, particularly for those who have lived independently and have been able to transform their home environments into a reflection of their interests and personalities.

While care providers strive to provide personalisation options in the rooms of individual service users, the interior design choices of communal spaces are usually decided long before the home will have been occupied or by management during periods of refurbishment.

The decisions will, overall, fall to development and management teams who have accrued a deep knowledge of the types of furniture, fixtures and fittings that are relevant to the needs of those the home is catering for. While their knowledge cannot be underestimated, for care providers launching new homes in their portfolio, there is an opportunity to encourage greater collaboration between development teams and service users.

At Exemplar Health Care, the development teams have begun working with the company’s Service User Council, a group of service user ambassadors who actively influence, change and improve Exemplar’s services. The service users on the council work together with senior representatives in the business to make

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every day better for themselves and their fellow service users.

The collaboration between the two groups has led to the Service User Council selecting the name for Exemplar’s new Hull home, which is opening this summer and, more recently, making interior design decisions ahead of the home fit-out.

At a venue close to the new home on Wheeler Street, Hull, six members of the Service User Council worked with Karen Stanley, Developments Project Manager, and Jade Turner, Developments Support Assistant, to make pertinent decisions around colour schemes, furnishings, carpets and furniture.

The service users selected and voted on their favourites aſter reviewing mood boards, photographs, materials and samples of flooring, textiles, carpets and wall coverings.

The collaborative meeting took just a few short hours and highlighted that there was a real opportunity for service users to be included without it adversely affecting the timeliness of decisions or inconveniencing the other activities that service users participate in.

Following on from the initial interior design meeting, Exemplar’s development team has since met with the Service User Council again, this time to decide on the interior design of its new Preston home, Ribble View.

Karen Stanley, Development Project Manager, said: “As a company, we continue to look at the different ways we can involve our service users in all areas of the business, and I was excited to lead our first interior design session with the Service User Council. We had anticipated that it would be a great learning opportunity, but I don’t think I realised the true impact it would have until aſterwards – the feedback we received will help us in several ways.

“We have first-hand feedback on the types of fabrics, colours and patterns service users like to see on the mood boards to help us refine selections moving forward, we understand more about the considerations service users prioritise when looking at furniture and, most importantly, it has reinforced how our service users like to be involved in creating a welcoming home for others.”

Additionally, the meetings visibly supported the confidence and team- working of the service users, enabling them to practice skills that they might not have otherwise had much opportunity to explore.

With the increased focus on person-led care and enabling greater opportunities for people within care home settings, the collaboration at Exemplar highlights how out-of-the-box thinking can both benefit internal teams at care home providers and the service users that they care for.

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