Barber Provides Additional Support in Care Homes

Barber Provides Additional Support in Care Homes

Matt Elliott first became aware of the lack of hair services in care homes when his Grandad was diagnosed with dementia in 2018 and placed into a care home. “When I visited my Grandad, I noticed that it wasn’t only his hair that looked untidy and unkept but most of the residents were in the same position. I asked what the protocol was on haircuts and that’s when I found out that it was left to the staff when they had the time,” explains Matt. He immediately decided to offer his services for free, “The care home allowed me to cut my Grandad’s hair but couldn’t give permission for the rest of the residents without going through the appropriate channels, so I left feeling happy that I had been able to restore my Grandad to his old self as he was always a well-kept, proud man but I felt awful as he was one resident out of forty at his home.” Matt set about finding out exactly what he needed in order to go back and provide the same service for all the residents, and eventually after many emails, phone calls and a DBS check, he was cutting the residents’ hair on a monthly basis.

“To the best of my knowledge privately funded care homes have an in-house barber or hairdresser or a salon on site; on the flip side of this, NHS or government care homes are so underfunded that they have care workers with absolutely no qualifications carrying out a service that requires a certain level of training. It’s not their fault because care workers are faced with the choice of leaving residents with unkept hair or to cut it themselves,” Matt tells us, adding ,“personally, I feel that it is largely down to funding, which is the same with most things these days. For me, a haircut is a large part of a person’s well-being, it’s not only essential for your appearance but also your mental health in terms of the social interaction to the feeling you get when you have your hair cut.”

Matt tells us that every barber knows how a haircut, or a fresh trim, can make their clients feel. “Imagine not getting that feeling again just because you’re in a care home or imagine if it was your family or friend in that situation,” he says, adding, “there isn’t a greater feeling than seeing the smile on a resident’s face when you show them the mirror. It not only gives them a mental boost but for a second they forget about whatever health problems they may be facing.”

Balancing his time to be able to deliver this vital service is an ongoing battle for Matt, who is already a very busy barber, “I give up three days a month to cut hair, free of charge, in two Bristol care homes and I am currently in talks about returning to cutting hair for the homeless, also in Bristol. Eventually I want to start an organisation dedicated to supporting care homes across the city providing professional consistent haircuts to residents, but I feel like the red tape around safeguarding makes it impossible at times.” It is therefore important to Matt that there is more awareness around the lack of provisions when it comes to hair care in care homes, “Having someone from the outside coming in and treating the residents like a human and not like a patient, talking about life and making them forget where they are for a moment would do wonders for the mental well-being of the patients. It would also take the strain away from staff who are already under a lot of pressure.”

Matt encourages any barbers who want to offer their services anywhere in the UK to get in touch (@mattthebarber): “Giving up one just one day a month could really go a long way.”

Modern Barber Awards Finalist and Collective Pride Award Winner Matt has now launched a new barber collective, District Barbers, with the aim to provide barbering services to those in need.