Taking care of the air means taking care of people

Taking care of the air that people breathe in care environments means taking care of their mental and psychological well-being, as some of the speakers at the event “Il respiro delle organizzazioni felici” (“The breath of happy organizations”) which was held at Exposanità explained to us. All the presentations were extremely useful and interesting and we will soon tell you about the others, too. We now want to start from what is essential in the action of care: the relationship and the person, as emerges from the speeches of Luca Secchi, General Manager of Villa Sorriso SRL in Marano sul Panaro (MO) and Letizia Espanoli, educator in the social-health field.

What does taking care mean for us today?

What does taking care of a person mean for us today? We must answer this question in these terms, because we cannot delegate to corporate procedures something that they cannot contain. The nature of the caregiver’s work is such that it requires them to put all their humanity into play, without limiting themselves to implementing procedures, which are useful but cannot encompass the meaning and value of the gesture of care. It is necessary to get involved as a person with the awareness of having to deal with another person, who despite their age or mental or physical health problems, has the same desire for life and love as those who take care of them.

What is the role of organizations and procedures in managing care?

The organization has the task of eliminating any obstacle between the caregiver and receiver. This does not mean that the roles must be swopped but it means that we are aware that our kindness is the first and most important thing in proving care.

The other fundamental point is to help and stimulate the resilience of the worker, the ability to recognize their needs, their physical and mental limits and to be able to compensate. The worker who does not hydrate during the shift, who does not take care of themselves to regulate the body and mind, will not be able to adequately take care of the Others. Likewise, knowing how to breathe (and remembering to do it!) correctly helps stabilise the heartbeat and to withstand fatigue better, especially when, as in pandemic emergency conditions, bulky and heavy protective suits and equipment are used.

The procedures must arise from this: from the awareness that all team members share the purpose of their work, and that only TOGETHER can they achieve the results they’ve set in the treatment path.

The right way to build them is to dream big and take one step at a time.

Smells and well-being: respect and quality of life also pass through this

Where do you feel good? We feel good where we breathe air that does not necessarily have a specific smell, an artificial smell of something, but where the air simply smells of air, of nature, of flowing water. A technology capable of bringing this type of air into often extremely confined environments, such as those of nursing homes, does much more than preventive action, it contributes to improving the quality of life.

A short true story: a man with very serious bedsores, deep and extremely smelly, was assisted with great difficulty for hours and hours by his wife. The arrival of a technology capable of eliminating the odour of the sores radically changed the woman’s life too: “I was able to sit next to him again with pleasure and serenity. I was able to tell him “I love you” again”.

Caregiving is asking about life stories (and their smells)

Air that tastes only of air? Many may ask why not perfume it, why not add the smell of something, perhaps with a specific function? It’s not that simple, especially when dealing with frail people. The smell, the perfume is much more than something aesthetic, because it is anchored in deep emotions and, even if generally considered good, a certain perfume can trigger important reactions and suffering. An elderly woman suffering from dementia started crying every night without knowing the reason why. There had been no changes in her routine, no particular events. The only difference was that in the facility that housed her a project related to perfumes had recently begun and in the evening, they used to release the aroma of lavender. Only the old lady’s daughter was able to reconstruct what had happened: during the war her mother had been raped in a lavender field. Thus, that perfume, generally considered relaxing, had unleashed and awakened enormous suffering.

What does this story teach us? As care experts we must also become archaeologists and speleologists of life, knowing how to collect fragments of stories, dig into the heart to understand that if pains are tattooed in the memory, we cannot release odours into the air that can awaken pain.

This is why a neutral air is an added value, even for those who are not able to express the pain caused by certain events. Every life has its memories, its smells and in an environment where many people live together a neutral air that smells only clean, only of air, is an added value because it is good for everyone.

Care giving is creating a beautiful environment

Caregiving means recreating therapeutic rooms within living environments and starts for example from what air is there, what enters and stays in these spaces, what type of care we want to convey and all of these pass through the choices of environment.

Caregiving also begins with removing what is not needed and making space, because a retirement home full of junk, dust and useless objects, expresses a lack of attention, sloppiness and fatigue.

Caregiving therefore means making room, throwing away what is not needed, attention to detail and being curious. It means being able to go beyond “it has always been this way”, to seek new solutions to situations considered to be factual, such as smells, those smells characteristic of environments with sick and elderly people, such as detergents and disinfectants. Opening up to a technology that frees the air of care environments is therapeutic, it is itself a gesture of care.