Starry sky and water massage. How seniors live in a “five-star” home

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“There is no perfect life anywhere. A hundred people, each with a different point of view. You can’t please everyone. But if you have a problem, they are helpful. For example, when we had reservations about the food, they changed the cook,” reports Mrs. Sylva. She admits her nickname Rebel with a laugh, but in one breath adds that she lives happily at home.

The corridor is full of staff with lunches, the smell of noodle soup with dumplings, and on Tuesdays they also serve chicken drumsticks with rice or lentil salad.

The five-story house in Bohumínská street in Slezská Ostrava stands out among hundreds of homes for the elderly. According to the Association of Social Service Providers, it offers the highest quality care in the Czech Republic. He repeatedly defends the primacy.

We are sitting in the corridor, the walls are decorated with Easter bunnies and eggs. 83-year-old Ilona Nemeškalová rests next to Sylva. “I have lived here for 22 years and three months. I spent my whole life among books. Even at home, they needed someone to take care of the library. I borrow books, shop, catalog,” explains the woman in a positive mood.

A little later, I read from the publication Tváře a osudy, which maps the life stories of some of the local clients, that the lady had serious health problems. However, he doesn’t let me know anything, he talks energetically. “There are a lot of handicraft activities. There is no lack of a studio, they often create ceramics, weave baskets. We have the Kameňáček choir here, which performs from time to time,” says Mrs. Nemeškalová.

He emphasizes that he does not use the original offer of the home that much. He goes out a lot and makes his own schedule. “I like that no one limits me. In addition, there is a beautiful garden. And if a person falls, they will find him,” he laughs.

The head of the social department and psychotherapist Jarmila Holášková explains that they want to build on the clients’ previous habits as much as possible in the home. “On activities natural to a given person. Cooking favorite foods, exercising, gardening, caring for animals. The client can do everything here, but also almost nothing. It’s everyone’s choice.”

After a few minutes we enter a room with the magical name Snoozelen. A domed ceiling resembling a starry sky that changes colors in an instant. There are Easter-themed photos, chocolate eggs and air fresheners on the table. Next to the white sofa and reclining chairs. “We are in a relaxation room that comes from a Dutch concept. We have been operating it since 2014. The name consists of two words – in translation they mean to sniff and to snooze. We work with various objects that stimulate the senses. Perhaps even with clients, they no longer communicate verbally. We will combine everything into a themed lesson,” explains activation worker Radka Řezaninová.

A large screen hangs on the wall opposite the couch. And clients sometimes fulfill unusual wishes in the magical space. “One gentleman used to be a hotel manager. Thanks to modern technology, I was able to give him a tour of his former workplace. The hotel has already been rebuilt, the client was absolutely delighted,” says the employee.

On the contrary, in the retro room we go back at least half a century. Wooden cabinets, porcelain behind glass and black and white photographs on the walls – scenes from the clients’ youth. “Memories come back to the seniors here. It is suitable for clients with dementia who are anchored here in time and space. As a rule, they say to themselves: Hey, we had that at home too. We got the furniture from a lady who also lives here in the home,” explains department head Karin Fojtíková about the principles of the so-called psychobiographical model of care.

Quality mark in social services

The goal is to provide interested and new clients with information about the quality of care the facility offers. It is an external certification system based on awarding stars. “The system works with a scale of more than 300 evaluation criteria in five basic areas,” explains the executive director of the Association of Social Service Providers of the Czech Republic. Auditors evaluate accommodation, food, culture and free time, partnership and care.

The award has been in operation since 2011, the stone house was at the birth of the idea. In the last evaluation, he received 1003 points out of a possible 1020. “We are the Czech record holders,” rejoices director Juraj Chomič.

However, not all social care facilities are included in the quality label, participation is voluntary. Those interested thus lack a comprehensive comparison. In the Czech Republic, according to the association of providers, up to 12,000 beds in homes for the elderly are missing. “The idea that the family has a choice is irrelevant. There is such a shortage of places, the family will place their loved one wherever they take him. We may have been a little ahead of our time with the quality brand,” says Chomič.

A moment later, the five clients are preparing the ingredients for the Easter lamb. They particularly like baking and cooking together. “The clients are very involved, they come with their own recipes, they take turns according to the floors,” adds the employee.

Mrs. Libuše rests a few floors down – in the rehabilitation room – before the afternoon baking. It lies on a white “tub” covered with a rubber band. “The water jets massage the patient on the bed. It is a dry water massage. You can choose music, light therapy or aromatherapy,” physiotherapist Kateřina Zemanová describes one of the popular aids.

“It’s perfect. It helps my back pain. I come here three times a week for 30 minutes,” agrees the senior woman.

Clients can use oxygen therapy, heal bedsores, test the bubble bath. “We are beautifully equipped for basic rehabilitation. People here have it a bit like psychotherapy. They would prefer to go all the time,” says the physiotherapist, adding that employees also go to relax their bodies.

Seven people take care of leisure activities, in total around 140 employees work in the home. But be careful, here too they run into the classic problems of the system and the lack of staff.

It is often sad, physically demanding work. “As for young people, they hardly enter social services. They often prefer to work as cashiers at a supermarket,” says Holášková.

“Relatively lower salaries, less social prestige. All this causes employees not to flock to this sphere,” sums up director Juraj Chomič.

Inspiration from the neighbors

Nevertheless, many people have been working here for more than ten years. The management motivates them with continuous education (they also offer a social service worker course to external organizations), benefits and involvement in the running of the home. “Any proposal that is voiced in joint meetings and is spirited will not work. Employees, even in the lowest positions, participate in the management of the company,” explains the director.

The home cooperates with similar facilities in its neighbors, for example in Poland it was inspired by a sophisticated system of rehabilitation, in Slovakia by the procedure for sorting tons of laundry.

Even in Kamenec, they are far from meeting all requests for a stay in a home. “At the moment, we only register 110 urgent cases, and that’s March. We place approximately fifty clients a year,” confirms the head of the social department. Clients pay an average of 15,000 per month to stay here.

A few ladies in the hallway lament the higher prices of buffet items. They say that even in the case of other problems, they would prefer not to complain for fear of retaliation.

This is a common concern in social services across the Czech Republic. In Kamenec, they focus on the most open communication possible, they are always in contact with users and family members. They claim to have over 90 percent positive questionnaires, clients can use the anonymous trust box. “Evaluated anonymous questionnaires used to determine feedback by us and the founder do not confirm any fear or concern about retaliation for complaining,” the director emphasizes.

“When you have a lot of complaints, it’s a problem, and when you don’t have any, it’s also a problem,” says Holášková.

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And he talks about the difficulties of establishing an ethics commission. “We tried for her precisely because of a neutral, objective view and assessment from the outside. But we couldn’t find experts who would get involved, so it didn’t work out. There is also a lack of legal support,” he explains.

We come to one of the other floors. The client sits quietly next to the cage with the canary.

“How many times do husbands and wives get in here and then one of them is left alone. There is also a lot of sadness. It makes me happy when a family member comes and says: You did your best for mom, thank you. This is the appreciation of our work,” reflects the manager.

The director mentions the often valid proverb that you can’t transplant an old tree. “Many people arrive in a relatively bad state, because they associate their stay with us with the end of their lives. We also cooperate with hospitals for long-term patients. When you suddenly meet a person who was just lying down in the corridor and he works, it’s amazing. That’s a feeling of joy for me.”

How to live in the Czech Republic

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Photo: List of News

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The article is in Czech

Tags: Starry sky water massage seniors live fivestar home

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