Five F’s of environmental fine-tuning

When partnering with those whose lives are changing with age, explore and discover ways to partner with them in creating a supportive environment. Teepa Snow, founder of Positive Approach to Care, provides a way of assessing environment to determine if it is truly supportive. She calls it the 4 F’s. 

1 – FUNCTIONAL. Is the setting truly functional for those living there? Does the person have access to do the things they need to do. For example, if balance is a challenge, a functional option would be a stable 4 legged bar stool with a supportive back rather than lightweight and easily tipped traditional stools. Or if a person has shoulder issues, a functional kitchen would have important kitchen tools within reach on the counter or on lower shelves.

2 – FAMILIAR. We all have that favorite robe or sweatshirt that we love to cuddle up in on a chilly evening. Consider the comfortable feelings you get when hearing theme songs for a television show that you have seen 100 times. I still smile when hearing the chime of the kitchen clock at my mother’s home that was a regular part of my childhood. A favorite chair, or even table setting might better support them if moving to a new setting.

3 – FORGIVING. I like to call this a ‘yes’ atmosphere. A place where we don’t have to be perfect, where ‘yes’ is heard much more than ‘no’, and we feel a sense of success. This is important when supporting a person living with dementia.

4 – FRIENDLY.  What makes the environment feel welcoming and friendly? This may involve a chat with a neighbor over the fence, fresh flowers sitting on the counter, or a smile combined with a compliment. Being greeted by their preferred name shows connection and respect.

I choose to add one more F to the list.

5 – FEELING SAFE or FREE OF FEAR. A sense of safety is second only to physical needs on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Trust and belief in those around us combined with a confidence of safety in our surroundings is a key to creating a sense of well-being. Do an assessment of your own home looking for these five F’s.

If your senior living community would like tools to help share these concepts with staff, residents and families, follow the INSPIRED SENIOR CARE Instagram channel or our mobile app INSPIRED SENIOR CARE to learn more.

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