Page 14 - TalkingCareMagazine_Online Issue4
P. 14

Improvement for all­time, not just crisis­time...
In challenging  mes for social care, many providers are so focused on keeping their heads above water that quality improvement has become a pipe dream or has it?
                          Beth Bri on reports on one of her consultancy clients bucking this trend, to the benefit of the people they are suppor ng, their families and the whole staff team...
Of all the clients I work with, those committed to improvement are the ones that stand out. Independent consultants like me are often engaged in a crisis, which is understandable given how under­ pressure and under­funded social care is, but there is an element of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted in those situations.
I have long argued that improvement is for all­time, not just crisis­time, and the story I want to share with you in this edition of Talking Care is of one of my consultancy clients who most definitely fits in the first category.
Christadelphian Care Homes are a faith­ based, not­for­profit social care provider with 8 care homes (ranging from 11 to 70 residents) and 8 sheltered housing schemes across the UK. I have worked in one of their larger services, Eden House, in the West Midlands since January 2016, where the 54 residents are a diverse group of individuals, around half of whom are living with dementia. As well as being a care home, the service also has assisted living apartments.
As a former carer to my dad, and a person passionate about dementia care, my natural focus is always on people, and the residents and staff I have the pleasure to work with are the real stars of this story. But before I talk more about the personalities, those with a management head on might be interested in this stat: Eden House has an extensive waiting list and operates with 99.8% occupancy. Pretty impressive in the current climate.
My work over 1 year+
But what of the people I've come to consider as friends, not just as a client?
I was engaged initially to work alongside a university training provider to observe, challenge and mentor staff in personalisation, with a particular focus on the residents who are living with dementia. My emphasis was on life story work, occupation and activity, wellbeing,
reflection, staff communication and enhancing crucial problem­solving skills.
In more recent months my work has evolved to include supporting staff with the role­out of keyworkers and the creation of champions who specialize in particular aspects of resident care. I've worked with a very diverse group of staff, from work experience students and apprentices at the very beginning of their careers, through to management trainees who will go on to be the social care leaders of tomorrow.
Eden House have a highly­regarded Wellbeing Team, and I've worked intensively with them to devise their own 'training pack' to help the team educate their peers in the work they do and improve resident and staff wellbeing across the care home. This has been a collaborative project, very much focusing on the messages the Wellbeing Team want to communicate, and packaging those up in a way that will be effective, meaningful and bring about lasting change in practice.
What is the benefit to residents?
For me the lives of residents are certainly more enriched for the work we’ve undertaken so far. In all of the services I’ve worked in, and the care homes I’ve been involved with in a personal capacity (my dad was in care homes for 9 years), I honestly feel that residents at Eden House have some of the best quality of life I have seen in a communal living environment.
Meaningful interaction is woven throughout each resident’s day, and residents experiencing changed behaviour are supported by knowledgeable staff who respond with empathy and understanding. I would never say everything is perfect ­ as you might have guessed I always believe there is room for improvement ­ but when a resident remarks to staff, “You are my joy,” I feel that we are on the right track.
The reaction of families
Eden House is blessed with an abundance of families and visitors who are actively involved in the life of the care home,

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