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Continuing an ordinary life in a care home

People who are about to be admitted to a care home must ponder on what life will be like in their new environment and what activities they once enjoyed will now be left behind.

The challenge to managers of care homes is how they can reduce the impact on residents’ ordinary lives by introducing activities that people enjoyed when living independent lives in their own home and community.

One such approach is the notion of a pub inside a care home. The idea is not new but seems to be on the rise.

This care home would probably be rated the best in the world according to its residents, thanks to the private pub that has been built for them to enjoy.

Bob and Peter - two residents of the Surrey care home - inspired their owners to create a pub of their own complete with pool table, darts board and poker area, having been regulars of locals when they were able to live independently.

The Gracewell's home admissions adviser Jeorgia Jones said: "Bob loves to go out weekly to the pub and play pool, so we felt it would be nice to bring the pub to him - just in case one day he isn't able to make his trip, he has one right here in his home.

"Peter is also a big fan of playing pool and often misses going out on his own, because he lives with dementia. So, having the Gracewell of Camberley Arms pub enables him to feel more independent and all residents can socialise together in a comfortable, familiar environment."

Care home Survey

How popular then are pubs in care homes? A survey carried out by Care home UK quizzed more than 2,000 care home owners, managers and staff about policies on alcohol consumption.

Almost half (44 per cent) said their care home had a bar or drinking area for residents.

But 56 per cent said there was no facility where they worked, and 21 per cent said alcohol was not even permitted on the premises.

The staff survey found one in four of the elderly residents at care homes never drink. But among those that do, the most popular tipple for men is beer, while women prefer wine.

Thinking outside the box

Sue Learner, editor of, said: "It is encouraging that an increasing number of care homes are thinking outside the box and showing life can continue for people when they go in residential care.

"Going to the pub is a fun and sociable experience. It is good people can still enjoy a chat over a pint of beer and feel they are living a 'normal life'."

And one in six care workers said there was no limit on how much people living there were allowed to drink.


Managers of care homes must do all they can to reduce the impact on people’s ordinary lives when they live in a care home. Offering the facilities of a bar judged by the report of Gracewells Care Home by residents it is a facility that is certainly enjoyed by them.

But it is surprising that the survey carried out by Care home UK shows 56% do not offer bar facilities, 21% and of them do not even allow alcohol on the premises, when potentially some people may still enjoy a drink and where there is no medical reason for not having one.

I believe we should listen to what residents have to say and want. If they agree that they want a bar that just doesn’t sell alcohol, but also coffee and soft drinks it can be a meeting place and a social experience for residents and visitors and encourage the feeling of a normal life.

Care homes should do all they can to promote an ordinary life for residents. It is psychologically well known that providing facilities that encourage social mixing can help to maintain health and social wellbeing.

Albert Cook BA, MA & Fellow Charted Quality Institute Managing Director Bettal Quality Consultancy

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