Jozef Lemmens (78), ‘just call me Jef’, is a happy man. That is the conclusion he draws involuntarily himself as a resident of the recently extended care home ‘t Spelthof in Lubbeek, Belgium. ‘I like being here, I have a room with a view to nature, I have people around me, I can do my chit-chat every day and I enjoy the good food.’
A new kitchen
‘I have a great life here,’ Jef says with a broad smile. ‘Every day starts with looking outside from my bed, at the green surroundings and the light coming in.’ After breakfast, Jef picks up the mail and carries it around while chatting with other residents. Then he checks his pluviometer and feeds old bread to the ducks in the pond. ‘Since the renovation, we have our own kitchen, which is quite an improvement,’ says Jef. The cook will later add that people have been eating more since then. Food is an important aspect for the residents: ‘We even have a dining committee that has a say in the menu,’ Jef reveals. ‘The freshly prepared chicken soup is the speciality of the house.’
What is more wonderful than being able to do my own thing every day in a safe and homely environment?
Jozef Lemmens – resident
‘Actually, every day here is exciting, there are always activities.’ Then Jef gets serious for a moment. ‘How would I describe what quality of life means to me? Being connected to people. Not being alone, that’s already a lot. Homeliness and cosiness, that’s what I like. And being able to grow old actively in a safe and secure environment, to move freely, to do my own thing and to enjoy myself for at least another 10 years.’
Comprehensive renovation project for enhanced well-being
‘The quality of life of the residents of a care home can improve significantly by smartly renovating the building and its surroundings.’ So says Sara Van de Weyer, the new manager of ‘t Spelthof, where she was head of care until recently.
The renovation included upgrading the existing building and expanding from 80 to 125 rooms, installing an in-house kitchen with freshly prepared rather than delivered meals, more outdoor terrace and more car parking. The new wing lets in plenty of light; in the old one, partition walls were removed and the rooms are larger. The fixed carpet has been replaced everywhere by a hygienic and easy-to-maintain linoleum on which service trolleys also roll much more easily.
Social cohesion has a very significant impact on the quality of life of residents, staff and the whole neighbourhood.
Sara Van de Weyer – care home manager
Sara Van de Weyer: ‘There are more lounges where people can meet, knit, read or watch TV. Restructuring per ward provides more storage space nearby, so less time is lost fetching linen or cleaning supplies. There are improved nursing stations and care staff can now use an interactive registration system to quickly tick off all care tasks in the room itself.’
The care offer is becoming more varied. That is why Sara is working on a partnership with a nearby psychiatry service to offer that specialised care as well. For Sara, this is part of an increasingly inclusive social project. For instance, she also dreams of a restaurant where anyone can come and eat with the residents or order a meal to take home after a working day. In this way, the residential care home will also become a community hub. Sara: ‘Social cohesion has a very big impact on the quality of life of the residents, the staff and the whole neighbourhood.’
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