The Close Care Home: Heart-warming Daily Experiences
"It is vital that we recognise the likes and dislikes of our residents."
The Close Care Home is a small, family run business that’s focussed on the wishes of their residents.
OX spoke to clinical manager for Riverview and Willow units, Les Pollard, about his attitude to care home evolvement, resident activities and National Care Home Open Day.
Earlier this year you hosted your first ‘Butterfly Time’ event during Dementia Awareness Week whereby all staff were required to down tools and sit with the residents for thirty minutes, doing an activity of their choice. Why was this initiative created and how did the launch event go? Were the residents responsive to the idea?
The activity is not a new innovation: Butterfly Time was introduced to the home last year, and is based on inclusion and awareness.
We can’t stress highly enough the importance of all staff knowing our residents’ individual needs personally, and Butterfly Time reinforces this. On the 17 May, our whole team spent thirty minutes of their time engaging with one of our residents in an activity of their choice. I liken it to the behaviour of a true butterfly, who alights onto a flower to seek support, stimulation and spread the pollen of that flower during its flight – we being the butterfly and our residents the flowers. The response to the whole day was one of anticipation and excitement from both staff and residents, and although it was a big learning curve for some staff, the feedback from the residents reassured us of their enjoyment, variation, socialising and a feeling of value and appreciation.
The fifth annual National Care Home Open Day event happened on 16 June – encouraging and connecting with local communities. It’s an integral way to cement relationships between families, residents, friends and staff, so what did The Close do this year to celebrate the theme of ‘Friendship’?
The Close enjoyed a nice, sunny day where we were able to invite the local and wider community into the home to meet with our residents and staff in the form of a coffee morning, where people could interact and get a picture of the services provided in the home and the dedication of the staff to the residents.
Care Homes have had to dramatically change and evolve over the years to settle and dispel any old stigmas, and to awaken to the fact that in the 21st century, seniors expect a lot more. What are the main changes you have seen and helped to implement?
I believe it’s important to recognise the roles of the stakeholders in the development of standards and the quality of care in nursing and care homes and their support to services through their assessment process. This enables services to progress from within, and without being too obvious, it also identifies bad services which they can then challenge. We at The Close have worked very hard in creating a family home that provides transparency – over the past eighteen months we have introduced several initiatives, including a three week induction program for all new staff. Involved with this plan is corporate start dates to enable the inclusion and team ethic expected of staff members. It goes without saying that our recruitment and selection process has been refined to enable the service to employ the right people in differing departments in the home. It’s my belief that people need to care prior to entering the service, and we can offer training to enable staff to develop these skills. We can’t teach people to care – that simply comes from the heart.
You have an extensive daily activities programme for your residents. Tell us about a few of these, and which ones do the residents tend to favour?
We at The Close have, over the past eighteen months, taken a long hard look at this area of care. It is vital that we recognise the likes and dislikes of our residents. To make this happen, each resident has a “My Life” booklet that lets us treat people as true individuals. Social stimulation and inclusion are what make life positive, and having heart-warming daily experiences is what makes us special. Future plans include a 1960s reminiscence wall and a mural within our dementia dining room of a 1960s kitchen – this again will encourage our residents to make new friends.
There is a unique management structure within the home, with responsibilities and structure divided accordingly throughout the business. What areas do you specialise in and how do you feel this style of management has helped the home achieve its recent ‘outstanding’ rating for care and a ‘good’ rating for responsiveness to residents and their needs?
I’m responsible for the dementia, nursing and palliative/end-of-life care units within the home – it’s my belief that our management team share the same ethos and vision of the future, recognising that all of us have different skill sets and experiences. We have a clear, open-door policy: my colleague introduced “you say, we do” as part of our philosophy, and we believe in what each person working in the home brings to the table. It would be fair to say that whilst I can’t speak on behalf of my colleagues, I think that journey is not even halfway through, yet I know that we’re all committed to the full journey and the experiences that the future will bring.
None of this would have been achievable without the belief, full backing, support and innovation of the CEO and the owners of the service.
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