A decision tree might be a great new way for care homes to develop their status as a place where the opinions of both residents and staff are taken seriously when it comes to making decisions. This fun and quirky tool has been implemented in many care homes across the UK and we’ve heard from many home managers saying the trees are really effective at engaging people and helping everyone to feel included. Maybe it’s time you created one, if you’re currently working in care?
In mathematics, a decision tree is usually more complex than the sort we are referring to. It would be used to analyse the possible outcomes, including benefits and costs, of a particular course of action in comparison to alternatives. The decision tree you might find in a care home would be a simpler process, and usually involves some kind of prop or wall display (you might want to try painting the tree on the wall in one of the main communal areas, and this is something else the residents can be involved in).
Each person has their own branch of the tree, which is where people can place their votes about particular issues. This works best if the tree is mainly associated with fun events, like planning where to go on a group trip or the details of a celebration. However, if it works well you might be able to use a decision tree to help residents and staff work together on solving more practical problems, or deciding on possible changes to the running of the care home.
In practice, what we have heard from care homes is that a decision tree makes a great talking point and provides something positive that everyone can share in. Families normally find it reassuring to see that residents’ individual and collective opinions can be freely incorporated into management decisions in a transparent and welcoming way.