Glamorous care home residents in their 90s are enjoying some Hollywood-style glitz at their brand new nail bar.
Age is no barrier in the beauty stakes at the Pen-y-Bryn care home, in Bagillt, in Flintshire, where the women are booking themselves in for a weekly “file and polish”.
The professional nail bar is proving so popular with the elderly residents that 10 members of staff have now had to be trained in beauty therapy – just to keep up with demand.
The innovative approach has been praised by Care Forum Wales, the body that represents around 500 independent social care providers in Wales.
While pale pinks and peaches are clearly a favourite, some residents have grown fond of the ‘rock chic’ look – raising eyebrows among their friends and family.
And it’s not just the women who are benefitting from the new pampering facility; many of the home’s male residents are partial to a hand or foot massage – minus the polish.
The nail salon is just one of the additions to the home’s recently completed £1million extension which has been designed to expand the social space in the home and create a community feel to the property.
Joyce Hughes, 91, is a salon regular and enjoys nothing better than a hand or foot massage to relax.
“My mother used to give me a manicure so it’s nice to be doing it again,” said the grandmother-of-nine, who grew up in Flintshire and used to work in a factory before becoming a housewife.
“I’m willing to try any colour really but I prefer pink, cream or orange.
“I really quite enjoy it, it’s very relaxing. It’s quite easy for me to get to the nail bar and I look forward to my manicure. It’s like going to a real salon.”
Brenda Wareham, 80, likes to bring her grandchildren along to watch her getting pampered in the in-house salon.
“I like getting my hair done at the same time if I can. It’s important to me to keep looking good,” said the 80-year-old, who grew up in Holywell and used to work in a bakery.
“I still love dressing up even now. I do it for my grandchildren really when they come to visit.
“I usually go for a pink as I don’t really think it’s appropriate to go too bright – I am 80 years old after all. I have to act my age!
“I have nine grandchildren and they like to come and watch me getting my nails done.”
The nail salon is one of a series of fresh ideas to be introduced at the nursing home, which specialises in delivering dementia care.
Owner and manager Pam Bochenski said the completion of its £1million extension last year signalled the birth of a new “person-centred” approach at the home.
Staff no longer wear uniforms, for example, and are instead encouraged to come to work in bright colours and flowers to brighten the feel of the home and promote interaction between residents.
They also carry sensory items like feathers and musical instruments in their aprons to encourage residents to engage in communication.
“When I bought the home 10 years ago there was an old farmhouse with 11 bedrooms and a bungalow in front with six bedrooms. It was like two separate businesses and it was always our aim to try and join them together,” said Pam, who lives in nearby Cuddington.
“It came to fruition 18 months ago when we created a link from the old part of the building to the new and added bedrooms. The original bungalow is now the social area of the home with a hairdressing salon, nail bar, sensory room, new kitchen and nurses’ station. There’s also a lounge diner and conservatory.
“Care has to change. We all want to get away from the institutionalised care homes of the past where people sat in their rooms all day. I did a lot of research during the building work and really liked the idea of more holistic care.
“The residents really like being pampered but who doesn’t? It’s open every day and there’s no need to book, we just open the door.
“We’ve always offered hand and foot massages but we wanted to ensure residents could go along to a salon rather than just sitting in the lounge.”
To coincide with the home’s new beauty therapy facilities, 10 members of staff received training and a beauty qualification from Deeside College. This means there’s always someone available to tend to the residents’ nails or beauty needs.
One member of staff was a fully qualified beauty therapist before becoming a carer and is putting her wealth of experience to good use with the increasingly beauty-conscious residents.
“She has been a great asset and source of advice,” said Pam, 54, a mother-of-three.
“With the hand and foot massages in particular, we find it calms agitation and relaxes everybody. We’ll take a resident along to the salon and they can have their hair done at the same time if they want to or just their nails polished, a manicure or pedicure or just a hand or foot massage.
“The men go in as well and enjoy a hand or foot massage. A lot of our residents have difficulties with speech but when they come out of the salon they show everyone their nails and this encourages social interaction.
“They seem to like the funky colours. It was one of our ladies’ birthday last week. She was 95 and so we made sure she had her makeup and nails done before going out with her family.
“We have a lady who’s going to be 100 in November so we’re already planning that.”
The innovative idea has been commended by Mario Kreft MBE, the Chair of Care Forum Wales.
“Helping residents to lead active and fulfilled lives is a priority at Pen-y-Bryn and facilities like the new nail salon have been warmly welcomed by staff, residents and their families,” he said.
“I’m proud of the team for continually thinking outside the box to bring community life to the home and make a difference to their residents’ wellbeing.”