23 Sep 14

Post Summer Ball & Awards Poster

Click here to enlarge the poster

23 Sep 14

Coming face to face with great care

I had the privilege (and I don’t use that word lightly) of spending a day at Etheldred House, one of Excelcare’s homes in Cambridge, an 82-bed home caring for frail, elderly residents and those living with dementia.

As a bank manager I am often shown around a care home by the owner but never really have time to spend understanding how the home truly operates. Is what the senior directors of the company say to me really reflected by the people who have to deliver the care on a daily basis-the care home manager and care workers? On this occasion I had the opportunity to spend most of the day at Etheldred House alongside Santall and her team-it was an enlightening and inspirational time.

On arrival, I was immediately greeted by Santall Horn, the manager who at the time was trying to repair a toy sword one of the children of a member of staff had made. This became the theme of the day – nothing was ever too much trouble and was done with minimal fuss.

Santall and her team always had time for residents, and they clearly came first. If a resident appeared distressed, she would stop what shew was doing and find out what the issue was and help them. Often it needed a kindly word or an arm around the shoulder or perhaps, they just needed to go somewhere. Nothing ever seemed too much trouble and once the resident was settled, the team seamlessly returned to the job in hand. What was really encouraging was that everywhere I went, I saw these behaviours in action. In the dementia lounge, the TV wasn’t on and instead I saw residents being active, whether in some sort of group activity, or reading with a carer or, as became a common theme in the home, happily singing and having fun. There seemed to be singing wherever you went, from the residents or the staff, and some of the staff were great movers when they started dancing!

The caring environment went deeper as it extended to the families of the residents and into the local community. It is no coincidence that the home doesn’t need to advertise-the families and friends were advocates of the home and this ensured it rarely had a vacancy.

Families are clearly very important to Stantall and the team and every encouragement was given to include them in all the activities of the home. Etheldred House has a café which is open to the residents and families, alongside a children’s room that positively encourages families to bring children into the home. It created a vibrant yet homely environment where lives are enriched. Santall recognised that support is often needed by residents’ families so regular meetings are arranged with local experts, whether on dementia or on other subjects that were decided by the families themselves.

First and foremost, Etheldred House is a home. During my short time there, one of the visitors was the daughter of a resident who had died earlier in the year. Santall and the other staff took the time to sit with her and her daughter and talk-about the home, about what her father liked and how he was as a person.

One of the most pleasing elements of my role is that I do get a chance to talk to people who make a real difference to people’s lives.

There were numerous examples of good care and I have chosen just one. At 3.30pm there was a call from the local authority which wanted a home to take in an elderly gentleman urgently. ‘Yes of course’ as long as they could get him to the home whilst it was light as it would be too disorientating for him if he came in the dark. A little later there was another call, this time even more desperate. The gentleman had got out of a taxi in the middle of the A14 claiming he had been kidnapped with the result there were now eight policemen, the carer and the taxi driver trying to calm the situation. There was a real danger the police would section the man.

Santall and her team however hadn’t been sitting still following the first call, they had already found out the gentleman had been in the RAF so she guessed he was someone who valued order and would take instructions from people in authority.

It was also clear to her what the issue was: he was frightened he had been kidnapped. After much discussion she persuaded one of the policemen to go up to the man and show his warrant card, give him his name and number (this in itself was a challenge) and inform him he was safe and not being kidnapped. The taxi driver also needed to show his license and that they were taking him somewhere safe. A few minutes later the man was back in the care and arrived safely at the home. This took skill, understanding and patience, behaviours that I witnessed being demonstrated throughout my visit.

Santall also never forgot she was in charge of a large business. Looking after 82 residents is a responsible position and to be able to do this effectively meant she needed good management information (to help make decisions) and a supportive corporate body behind her.

Communication was also important with all her stakeholders, from family and friends to local authorities to the regulators. She recognised that she couldn’t do it on her own. Regular visits from senior directors and her regional manager were not viewed as ‘big brother’ interfering but more a genuine interest in what was going on and a desire to help.

The home manager was empowered to take decisions although that is not to say budgets weren’t controlled. Santall has to prepare a business case and budget appropriately if she wants to make changes. She has changed her office to a little shop and created a café, children’s room and hairdresser because these were services she felt were needed, although it didn’t happen overnight.

As far as recruiting staff is concerned-it’s not about qualifications, it’s about having the right attitude. Technical skills can be taught, but if the carer doesn’t have the right attitude, it simply won’t work. Santall was given a piece of advice early on – if you had a bad apple in the team get them out quickly. I didn’t see any there at Etheldred House.

Recruitment there is about whether you can sing and dance, and ‘could you be their friend?’ because at the end of the day that is what makes the home-and Etheldred certainly appeared a fun place to live.

Perhaps the most telling sign of a good home came from one of the residents who, when asked what it was like to live at Etheldred House, said ‘it’s lovely and the staff are so caring.’

My day helped reinforce my belief that the care home manager’s job is very rewarding but always challenging. They need to be master of so many skills-agony aunt, marketer, accountant, recruitment expert, social worker; clinician…the list goes on!

Paul Birley – Head Of Public Sector & Healthcare at Barclays (Caring Times – October 2014)

16 Sep 14

Harlow resident Daisy Staines celebrates 101st birthday

MORE than 300 cards were sent from across Harlow and beyond to wish a happy birthday to Daisy Staines.

Daisy celebrated her 101st birthday on Monday (September 15) with staff and residents at Ashlyn Care Home, Vicarage Wood and was treated to a performance from Elvis impersonator Alan Wilcox.

Activities co-ordinator at Ashlyn Care Centre, Tess Harvey, decided to do something extra-special for the home’s eldest resident.

With the extra help of local groups and residents including Tesco community champion Diane Harper, businessman Tony Lake and Hertford Regional College’s health and social care students, Daisy received more than 300 birthday cards from well-wishers.

Daisy, who was born in Tottenham, London, in 1913, married Fred in 1939 when she was 25 years old. Her husband died in 1980.

The 101-year-old was a keen ballroom dancer in her youth and is still a fan of dance and music, according to senior healthcare assistant Eve Wilson.

Ms Wilson said: “Daisy is magical; she is always laughing and always joking around. She loves dancing and music and absolutely adores life.

“She isn’t on any medication. She’s just a very happy person who loves life.”

Daisy, who moved to Ashlyn Care Home four years ago in 2010, had three brothers, Joe and George. Her brother Fred, who also lived in Harlow, died last year at 103 years old.

Harlow Council chairman Ian Beckett presented Daisy with flowers on her birthday and kickstarted a rendition of Daisy, Daisy which was sung by residents and staff.

He said: “I am delighted to have had the opportunity to meet Daisy and wish her a happy birthday. It was a pleasure to meet staff as well who are brilliant and extremely hardworking.”

Read more: http://www.harlowstar.co.uk/Harlow-resident-Daisy-Staines-celebrates-101st/story-22931796-detail/story.html#ixzz3DU9IcQUs

8 Sep 14

Excelcare Supporting Apprenticeships

The maintenance department for Cambridge, Essex and Milton Keynes looks after 25 homes from the ExcelCare portfolio. Keeping the homes at a high standard involves a lot of manpower both out in the regions and at the Maintenance office.

It was decided that an extra pair of hands was needed to help with the smooth running of the department in supporting the maintenance operatives and the care homes. The idea of taking on an apprentice from the local college was discussed and agreed that it would be an advantage to both the team and the company. After high interest from local students a candidate was chosen. Delia started in the team last December and has been working alongside Amie Hewitt the maintenance administrator, gaining skills and knowledge in administration whilst also being supported by her assessor Mel from Huntingdon Regional College. Amie has also completed a Level 3 in Business Administration during this period also.

In August Delia passed all her exams required as part of the apprenticeship scheme and both James Cloherty the Maintenance Manager and Amie attended a presentation at the college to see Delia receive her certificates. Delia has 3 months left of her apprenticeship and has made a big impact within the team and great progress with in her role, so much so James has offered her a full time position at the end of the Apprenticeship and to the teams delight Delia has accepted!

Delia on her apprenticeship at Excelcare ‘Before starting my apprenticeship at Excelcare I had no experience in administration, since I have started my role I have gained many key administration skills and grown in confidence. I feel the apprenticeship scheme has been a big benefit in gaining key work skills alongside completing a recognised qualification. I have received great support from my team and the company. I have really enjoyed the last 9 months with Excelcare and look forward to becoming a full time employee in December’

8 Sep 14

Care home’s garden is given a wild makeover

A new garden has been opened at Glennfield Care Centre in Wisbech.

The garden has a farmyard area with minature model animals, a wildlife area to encourage wildlife to the garden and various places to sit and watch the birds and squirrels.

It has been a busy year for the care centre. As well as having a proms season through the summer, staff have been hard at work raising money for the sensory and reminiscence garden.

There is a potting bench and raised beds that have been designed for wheelchair users so everyone can be involved in sowing and planting if they want to.

4 Sep 14

Help for Heroes Charity Walk

This year in light of the Centenary of WW1, Goldenley Care Centre chose to support Help for Heroes charity and Chris Webster, our Home Manager at Goldenley and her daughter-in-law Jenna Webster, took up the H4H Challenge and registered for The South Downs Trek, which was to prove a picturesque but gruelling 26 miles hike from the village of Lewes to the spectacular white cliffs of Beachey Head.

Neither had ever done anything like this before and describe themselves as not what you would call Sporty people, but, in keen preparation they broke in their walking boots by regular walking over their local Hadleigh Downs, and prepared for the challenge of walking the South Downs, appreciating their endeavours required fitness and resilience.

Chris and Jenner set off at 7.30am in determined spirits from Lewes and they successfully completed the full trek to Beachey in 10 hours, along the way they had lots of time to admire the scenery and realise the South Downs had far more hills than bargained for, and as the hours passed by and tiredness set in, these began to feel like ever higher mountains, but tired as they were, they pressed on, knowing their efforts would eventually help raise £900.00 for the Help for Hero’s charity. A welcome sum for a chosen charity.

3 Sep 14

Dysphagia Training Day

On the 12th August, Chefs attended a session entitled “Dysphagia – a practical guide to preparing meals”. The fully interactive day included demonstrations and creating meal solutions suitable for those residents diagnosed with Dysphagia. Chef’s who attended said:

“I soon realised how easy it is to create these meals with normal store cupboard essentials…”
“Very enlightening”

The booklet distributed at the session can be viewed here

28 Aug 14

A Challenge!

In June our three Lambeth homes , along with all care homes in Lambeth and Southwark were set a challenge by the Care Commissioning Group ( CCG) based at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. The challenge was to reach 100 days without any pressure ulcers developing in the homes.

As always, our homes, which already had a zero tolerance approach to the development of pressure ulcers in the homes, rose to the challenge and not only succeeded, but exceeded the target. Only 5 homes achieved the target, and 3 of them were ours. Had more of our homes been in Lambeth or Southwark, they too would have reached the target. We hope other CCG’s will issue this challenge so that all our homes are able to demonstrate the excellence of their care.

On 19th August, all three homes were presented with a certificate to mark their achievement by the Tissue Viability Nurses and their Manager.

Our Head of Care was also present to congratulate the staff.

Limetree are now on 147 days, Windmill are on 141 days, and Queens Oak on 100 days. The CCG are trying to work out what to do when our homes reach 200 pressure ulcer free days!

28 Aug 14

Longfields Fete

Wendy, Dee and Karen would like to thank everyone for the support they received from the Maldon Community, which made the fete a success.

28 Aug 14

It’s showtime for staff and residents!

A Chigwell care home has certainly got talent, as staff members, residents and members of the community took part in a show to raise money for charity

Sherrell House Care Home in Fencepiece Road held Sherrell’s Got Talent, where more than 15 acts showed off their skills to help make money for Help for Heroes.

Activities Co-Ordinator Zargunah Khan said: “It was a really great event which everyone enjoyed as it brought a lot of the community together.”

Acts included a 102-year-old former actress reciting poetry, as well as joint winners who were a member of staff who sung a gospel song and a pupil of The Forest Academy in Hainault who sung Sam Smith’s Stay With Me.

Sherrell House Care Home raised around £1,900 for Help for Heroes.

Zargunah said: “Some residents at the care home have dementia so I didn’t expect them to remember too much of the day but when I saw them next, they couldn’t stop talking about it!”