It is very easy to forget that many of the things we take for granted nowadays did not exist 50/60 years ago, or if they did they were in the realms of the elite who could afford such luxuries.
Fridges and freezers, for example, did not become common place until the 1960’s, which, naturally, means frozen foods did not become popular until that time and that food storage was a different kettle of fish (an expression from when fish was boiled rather than sealed with sauce in a soft plastic container!).
Similarly supermarkets did not exist as we know them today, Sainsburys opened their first ‘self-service’ store in 1950 and Tesco’s opened their first supermarket in 1958, and even then it took a while for the supermarket to spread across the country to become the default means of buying the weekly shop.
Obviously before these momentous changes eating habits were completely different, no ready meals, no frozen dinners, food bought according to season and location rather than according to what you fancy. Culturally things were different too. In the 1950’s more women stayed at home and were expected to provide meals for the family which had to be freshly prepared from scratch.
Naturally most people who need older peoples social care services now spent their early, formative years eating in a completely different way to the way we do now.
Now think back to your own childhood, what was your favourite food? What memories does the thought of that food evoke? What other memories do you associate with that? There will, of course, be a whole range of memories because of the different favourites you had at different times in your life and it is the unique tapestry of memories that makes us all unique individuals.
The only way we can find out about the memories of others and what makes them unique is by listening to them and asking them and this, to my mind, is one of the most important things in social care provision.
It does not matter what our position in life or what age we are right now, if someone takes a genuine interest in us and talks to us, listens to us and asks us about ourselves, it makes us feel good. Now if you are a person who needs care services, either at home or in a care home, the knowledge that the person providing that care takes an interest in who we are rather than looking at us just as a ‘task’ to be completed it will boost personal esteem and do considerably more good to an individual.
Obviously cognitive decline may impact on memory recall yet even if the memories have faded the mere act of sitting and talking to someone is, in itself, a worthwhile act.
The more we can engage on a personal level the more we learn about a person and the more we can tailor our service to them but, more importantly, the more we engage with people the more we build their sense of worth.
Go on – ask a question today.