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Set in beautiful grounds on the edge of the Cotswolds, Freeland House care home boasts wonderful views over the surrounding Oxfordshire countryside.

Freeland House

Freeland House care home, run by Minster Care Group, is situated in the beautiful village of Freeland, which is only five miles from Witney and 11 miles from the centre of Oxford

"Residents can take part in these from the start of their time here. Activities like these keep the residents physically and mentally stimulated, contributing to their overall health and helping them to live full and happy lives."

Set in beautiful grounds on the edge of the Cotswolds, Freeland House care home boasts wonderful views over the surrounding Oxfordshire countryside.


Recently, Freeland House achieved CQC (Care Quality Commission) ‘outstanding’ in leadership, so we caught up with Frances Payne, registered manager of the nursing home, to find out how they achieved this and how they deliver the best possible care at all times.

There’s a lot of apprehension about our elderly relatives going into nursing homes, one of the biggest worries is about the quality of their life. How do you make sure that new residents feel right at home when they first arrive whilst still providing them with the care that they need?

Making our residents feel at home starts before they choose Freeland House. We encourage anyone considering moving into a care home to come on a tour of Freeland to see for themselves whether it’s the right place for them. Before a resident moves in, we conduct a pre-assessment with them to alleviate any individual concerns and worries they might have and establish their individual care requirements.

In keeping with our commitment to providing personalised care, we involve residents in decisions about all aspects of their care from the start of their time here. For example, we ask them how we could help them to feel more at home, what activities they would like to do and if they might prefer flexible mealtimes. The focus is on maintaining residents’ individuality and independence. Naturally, the care and wellbeing of our residents is paramount, so we deliver care that is specific to each resident’s needs, making sure any medication is administered correctly, that they enjoy a healthy diet tailored to their nutritional requirements and that there is always someone on hand to help them should they need it.

Also, the activities and events we organise here, including weekly exercise sessions, visits from musical entertainers and excursions such as trips to the theatre, are also essential for residents’ wellbeing.

Residents can take part in these from the start of their time here. Activities like these keep the residents physically and mentally stimulated, contributing to their overall health and helping them to live full and happy lives.

What variety of care can you offer at Freeland House?

The care we offer at Freeland House is mostly residential and nursing. We also provide specialist care such as palliative care and temporary respite for people who need care for short periods – if they are leaving hospital, for example, or if their carer needs a break or a holiday. So we offer care for people with a very broad range of needs.

The CQC (Care Quality Commission) is an independent regulator of all health and social care services in England – obviously an important thing to work towards. After your recent CQC inspection, what was noted about yourselves?

Our recently published CQC report, based on an unannounced inspection of the home, was overwhelmingly positive. Our leadership and management practices, which were rated ‘outstanding’, were particularly highly commended. This underpins everything we do at Freeland House.

The report said that the length of time management, and other staff, have worked here contributes significantly to the continuity and high standards of the care that we provide. Having longstanding staff members in all departments means they work well together and we see the benefits of training and development. The result is that current best practice guidelines are followed and the standard of care we provide is enhanced.

Inspectors praised the safety of the home and the care we provide. It was noted that we have ample numbers of staff per resident, care plans are detailed and personalised, risk assessments are undertaken regularly and our systems to monitor the quality and safety of services are very effective. The report stated that it was clear based on residents’ feedback that they felt safe at Freeland House.

The overall culture here was highly commended in the report too. Inspectors recognised our shared commitment to improving standards of care and remarked upon the friendliness of staff and the genuinely caring relationships they formed with residents. It was observed that residents’ dignity and privacy are respected along with their choices regarding all aspects of their care.

You achieved your CQC ‘outstanding’ in leadership, which is fantastic – what specifically do you think it was that gave you this result?

Like the CQC report says, we’ve got a stable management team and staff retention is good across departments. Most of our staff have been here for more than eight years, so relationships are well-established and everyone knows each other. This means that we can invest in training and development to increase our standards of care. Everyone here holds an NVQ level two or higher in their field, and many are working towards level three or higher.

This is complemented by good communications and support systems. We hold regular staff meetings, including general meetings and departmental meetings. Additionally, departments communicate well with each other. For example, kitchen staff work closely with care staff to ensure dietary requirements are catered for.

One aspect of leadership highlighted in the CQC report as contributing to our high standards of care was our ‘Champions’ roles. Staff nominate themselves to hold particular areas of expertise, such as nutrition, exercise, dementia care and infection control.

Champions are supported to undertake training specific to their area of expertise in order to drive forward our standards in these areas.

We take feedback seriously too. We ask residents and their family members, healthcare professionals and staff to fill in feedback questionnaires and we act on their suggestions. I also hold an open-door policy, so people can come and raise issues or concerns anytime.

After this fantastic achievement, how do you plan to maintain and build on this?

To start with, we’ll carry on doing what we’re doing now, but we’re looking at all areas of the care we provide to see where we can improve.

Over the next 12 months, we are going to start empowering staff to take control of their own training, so further to the mandatory training that they receive, staff members will be able to request training in areas that they think will improve their ability to care for residents and enhance our overall service.

Keeping up to date with National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines is another thing we’ll be doing to ensure the care we deliver far exceeds the minimum standards. NICE guidelines cover a wide range of clinical care and are updated regularly based on research and best practice. Following these will make sure residents receive the highest standards of medical care possible.

What new qualities can we expect from Freeland House in 2017-2018?

We are striving to be a paperless home, so we are expanding our use of ‘Nourish’; an app-based system that allows staff to use smartphones and tablets to update and maintain care records. This will mean easier access to people’s records and live reporting. It will mean that care staff will have to spend less time on paperwork and get to spend more time caring for residents.

By the end of the year, we are aiming to achieve GSF (Gold Standards Framework) accreditation for the home. GSF training will provide our care staff with the knowledge and skills to deliver optimum end of life care.

Excitingly, we have a new build planned here at Freeland House. Minster have decided to invest in the construction of a new wing at the home, which will incorporate 45 beds and will allow for the provision of specialist dementia care. We are aiming to commence this by the end of the year.


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