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Spring Cleaning: Decluttering Tips for Your Care Home

March is the ideal time to book in a deeper sort and tidy of your care home. The chaos of Christmas is behind us, as are the darker mornings and early evenings. More light brings a fresh perspective on areas needing particular attention. Brighter days help motivate tidying sessions, as it is easier to see the results and we have longer to complete tasks before the daylight starts to fade. In care homes, meticulous cleanliness is essential for hygiene and quality of life. However, so is not having too much stuff around for people to trip over or mislay things they need that are buried underneath lots of clutter.

Plan to succeed

Start by working out which rooms are overcrowded and what you could do without and what could be stored in a neater way. Make a list, room by room. This will help you see where the main problem areas are, and they type of things you will be getting rid of or moving. Work out a suitable schedule for the decluttering. You might find it easier when there are fewer residents around the public areas, so perhaps you could arrange a few sorting sessions when they are out of the home on a trip, or before people are up and about for the day. Crucially, plan for how you are going to dispose of unwanted items. Some bulkier things may need special arrangements to be removed and rehomed.

Prepare your residents

Suddenly changing people’s surroundings, even for the better by getting rid of unnecessary clutter can be overwhelming. Many people cling to familiarity when they are feeling vulnerable. Some can lose the ability to decide what is important to keep and what can be discarded, such as old newspapers or used wrapping paper. If items are removed without warming, this can cause distress. Talk to your residents ahead of carrying out any decluttering. Let them know what you want to do and what type of items will be removed. You could involve residents in making decisions over some things if you feel they would be able to cope and would enjoy the activity.

Residents first

When choosing how much – and what – to declutter, always keep the needs of your residents at the forefront of your mind. Too much clutter poses a safety risk in terms of tripping hazards and tall piles of items falling over. It can also block safe routes to fire escapes and make people anxious to move around the home. Excess items in the care home can also cause people to feel overstimulated. So, while it could seem like a good idea to keep as many books as you can fit into the home for residents to read, having too wide a choice can make it hard for people to narrow down what they want to read.

Finding good homes

Ring around charities to see if they want any furniture, ornaments or books you are getting rid of. Consider holding a sale of items that are good enough quality. Invite family members, staff and neighbours to come and see if they can find any bargains. Redeploy magazines, clean fabrics, etc. as craft supplies. Ask if any other care homes in the area can make use of any good quality equipment or stocks you are getting rid of. Take recyclable items to the recycling centre, or leave out for collection by the local council. Get some valuations on anything that you think could be sold to raise money for the care home and its residents. Make it a challenge to keep as much out of landfill as possible.

Admin decluttering

Finally, Spring decluttering doesn’t stop with physical items and overspill. Take time to sort out your electronic systems, files and emails. Do you really need to keep every single message, update and receipt? One way to cut down on paper-based storage is to switch to digital care management software, such as Care Vision. Not only does it automate several time-consuming admin tasks, you can keep key documents electronically securely and easily. There is no need for bulging filing cabinets or multiple copies of the same report – simply create, save and share the documents you need via one simple, streamlined digital system. The final word in decluttering!

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