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My Home Life celebrates its 10th birthday

Social movement continues to expand internationally and has recently been adopted in Australia

by George Wigmore (Senior Communications Officer)

Founded ten years ago, since its inception My Home Life has gone on to work tirelessly for the care home sector and its aim of creating a world where all care homes for older people are great places to live, die, visit and work.

Initiated in 2006 by National Care Forum and Help the Aged, in the first phase of My Home Life Julienne Meyer CBE, Professor of Nursing: Care for Older People at City, University of London was commissioned to review the literature on quality of life in care homes.  This was done in partnership with the National Care Homes Research and Development Forum, an academic resource which continues to be linked to My Home Life today.

Ten years on from its creation, My Home Life continues to go from strength to strength. It has spread across the UK, with linked initiatives hosted by Ulster University, University of West of Scotland and Age Cymru in Wales and it is now being adopted in Australia.

“My Home Life began as a small research project to pull together what we know older people ‘want’ and ‘what works’ in care homes,” said Professor Julienne Meyer, who is also Vice Chair of the International Association of Homes and Services for the Ageing (IAHSA, now known as the Global Ageing Network). “It is now seen as a social movement for quality improvement in care homes that has spread across national and now international borders.”

MHL DirectorsAs part of the recent visit to Australia at the invitation of SA Innovation Hub, Professor Meyer (Director MHL England) was joined by Professor Belinda Dewar (Director of MHL Scotland) to prepare facilitators to spread the MHL ways of working there. The SA Innovation Hub is a community of practice in action which translates ideas, innovation, learning and research into practice.

Professor Meyer said: “We strongly believe that the SA Innovation Hub is in a unique position to take MHL forward onto a new level by potentially working within and across organisations to embed the MHL vision in practice. Working together as an international community of practice, MHL can make a real difference to the lives of older people.”

As Professor Dewar explained: “Our starting point is to work out what’s working well and to understand why, rather than focusing on problems and trying to fix them. We look at the beautiful practice and why it is working well to give us the answers to solve the things that perhaps aren’t working so well.”

SA Innovation Hub originally contacted MHL due to the parallels between the ambition of the Hub and the MHL vision. Currently MHL connects people through four evidence-based conceptual frameworks, which highlight the importance of developing best practice together, focusing on relationships, being appreciative and having caring conversations. These have obvious global implications.

SA Innovation Hub executive officer Sarah Rhead says the MHL program is all about promoting cultural change within organisations:

“Our sector is experiencing rapid social, technological and political change,” she says. “It is important that our leaders are ready to embrace that change and to create a positive future together.”  

Professors Dewar and Meyer were also accompanied to Australia by Caroline Emmer De Albuquerque Green, who is a PhD student at King’s College London exploring human rights in care homes and the CEO of a Foundation who are also interested in taking forward My Home Life in Germany.  

“This is a very exciting collaborative initiative,” said Professor Meyer. “As by working together internationally, we can learn from each other and grow personally, professionally and organisationally to better meet the changing needs of older people created by the ageing population.”

Image credit: My Home Life directors (from L to R) Sarah Rhead, Professor Belinda Dewar, and Professor Julienne Meyer

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City, University of London is an independent member institution of the University of London. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University of London consists of 18 independent member institutions with outstanding global reputations and several prestigious central academic bodies and activities.