Opinions

When care homes get it right

Written by: Lorraine Haining, Dementia Nurse Consultant, Erskine

Published: 17/07/2019

Lorraine marks Care Home Celebration Day 2019 by discussing her role at Erskine.

I was recently given the opportunity to come and work for Erskine, one of the leading charities in Scotland supporting past and present veterans and their families. For me the striking thing about Erskine Homes is the organisation’s commitment to provide an enabling environment for residents, their families and staff. They look at the bigger picture and focus on four important elements:

  • Leadership;
  • Staff;
  • Training;
  • And environment.

The leaders within the organisation believe in the philosophy of a person centred culture and expect nothing less of the staff they employ. They inspire and empower staff to find ways around obstacles and will challenge attitudes and approaches at all levels. They value staff, listen, act and reflect on ideas, ‘make it happen’ and celebrate their achievements.

This approach has produced a highly trained and motivated workforce with a career structure encouraging the progression of individuals with highly developed clinical roles and specialist teams. There has been an incredible amount of work done to ensure all staff have extensive knowledge and skills in the field of dementia. Over the last three years a comprehensive training programme mirroring the Promoting Excellence Framework has been implemented for staff at all levels and this learning is very obvious when you work alongside staff. Through careful selection, training and nurturing, the homes are now proud to say they work in an environment with residents who are empowered and enabled to be the best they can be. I have been inspired by the fact that staff are constantly seeking support and advice from myself and my colleague in our role as Dementia Nurse Consultants. They truly are committed to ensuring their residents are reaching their full potential.

There’s a constant buzz around the place, with fantastic Activity Teams providing high quality events for residents and families to encourage socialisation, inclusion and fun! From what I have seen so far, they are dynamic and innovative and do it all with incredible enthusiasm. Residents are not just sitting in their houses, bored and feeling useless, they are out and about and continuing to enjoy life to the full. At any time of day you can come in to the Erskine Home at Bishopton and you will find residents and their families enjoying the café along with staff and visitors. There is also entertainment going on in the Bunker with lots of interactive and sensory activities. Although we have a great community here it’s important to connect with the local community and most days staff and residents are partnering up to go out on the bike trail. The mini buses are regularly out and about taking residents on trips to various places for new experiences or to favourite places where they can reminisce.

It has been a real privilege to witness the wonderful relationships between staff, residents and their families and friends. Many families have told me how much they value the care their loved one is receiving and how the organisation supports them in their caring role.

The internal environments are to a very high standard but it’s wonderful to see that the external environment is also a major priority! They really understand the importance of nature and the benefits to be gained by providing regular access to outside spaces. This now plays a large part in promoting residents’ wellbeing.

This is not what one would expect if we were to be informed by national media coverage on care home provision. This is not a second class service, this is the ultimate in best practice and for me a true centre of excellence, so it’s essential we all take responsibility to spread the word that care home life can be a wonderful and fulfilling experience for everyone involved.

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