5 star rating for 10th Time

Frome Nursing Home was awarded the maximum five stars again, in the latest food hygiene rating by the Food Standards Agency, for the tenth year in a row. Head Chef at Frome, Ben Kerslake, is also celebrating 12 years of working in the kitchens at the home, having started as a kitchen assistant back in 2007.

Frome Nursing Home was awarded the maximum five stars again, in the latest food hygiene rating by the Food Standards Agency, for the tenth year in a row. Head Chef at Frome, Ben Kerslake, is also celebrating 12 years of working in the kitchens at the home, having started as a kitchen assistant back in 2007.

Ben and his team wowed food inspectors from Mendip council, who left well assured that the services were the highest possible and hygiene was always maximised. They focused on the handling and storage of food, the cleanliness and layout of the buildings and the recording of food information.

Maggie Rhodes, Home Manager, was bursting with pride when she said: “Achieving 5-stars for the tenth time is an astonishing achievement and testament to the hard work of Ben and his team. They ensure that everyone living with us has a choice of food which is always nutritious, well-presented and results in always dining with dignity.”

Over the years, Ben’s passion has helped him achieve numerous awards and climb the kitchen ranks to the coveted Head Chef position. Every day they cook the most nutritious and tasty vegetarian and meat based meals they can. Their vegetarian recipes were even recognised at Westminster last year, when Ben was named by the charity, Vegetarian For Life, as runner-up in the 2018 Awards for Excellence in Vegetarian and Vegan Care Catering, held in the Houses of Parliament.

Speaking at the Frome home, Ben said: “I love working here and having the best team around me is half the battle won. When preparing the menus, we understand everyone’s tastes and nutritional needs. On today’s menu is veggie bolognaise with pasta, or meatballs with a tomato sauce. We cook daily for around 70 people and have almost zero waste as we recreate another tasty dish with leftovers and peelings either go to make stock or go to the compost bin.

Maggie and the team at Frome Nursing Home have thanked Ben for his years of brilliant work and look forward to many more 5-star meals.

Jerry Short, care writer

A Bard’s View on Dementia

April is Poetry Month, at least in the USA. Over here we tend to join in but maintain our British feeling of literary superiority because our lists of poems and famous poets are much longer than those of our American cousins and I’m pretty sure that most of us can quote a line or two from Wordsworth. Poetry is designed to make the beauty of words visible and I had recently come across some poems written by a senior governance nurse, Karen Tidy, that focus not on daffodils or clouds, but dementia care.  A subject that is not the most obvious to write verses about.

Karen is at the centre of Evolve Care Group and supports 6 care and nursing homes, one of which is Frome Nursing Home, in Somerset and I thought her poems offered a fascinating insight into the world of dementia care.  As a senior governance nurse, her work involves supporting everyone within all the homes to maintain their best physical and emotional well-being.

The individuals that Karen supports at Frome are always referred to as family members and some happen to live with dementia which is a difficult condition that gradually erodes all the nuances and subtleties that make you who you are. The home uses a “Household Model of Care” which aims to create a true continuation of home life and means that choice and remaining independent for as long as possible is at the forefront of everything they do.

I was interested in discovering how such a dark subject could inspire Karen and ask, in this age of watching movies on our phones and having Australia in the Eurovision Song Contest, is there is still a place for writing poetry in the 21st Century?

When I met Karen, I noted that she had kind, smiling eyes and a shy disposition. Within seconds of me asking how she got into caring, she told me how her father had passed away when she was just ten, she immediately embraced the role of caring for her siblings which made the move into professional caring a logical and natural step for her as soon as she was old enough.  She talked passionately about how much she loves what she does and being in the homes, helping people is second nature to her.  She says that knowing that she is making a real difference keeps her going.

Her love of poetry comes purely from her emotions and the words seem to simply pop into her head, prompted by what she sees, feels or hears. She finds it hard to write planned poetry, much preferring to write rhyming lines spontaneously.  I was busy scrawling my notes trying to keep up with her when she said something that struck me as poignant.

She explained that a few years ago, she had been on a specialist course that taught end of life care and said that seeing people confined to their beds who were unable to verbalise got her wondering what they were thinking and feeling. She says it is imperative that the people she cares for are still spoken to and included in discussions. As soon as you stop doing that, she explained, the person becomes part of a conveyer belt system, on their way to their end.

She also became acutely aware of how hard it must be for them to lie in bed and hear laughter from passers-by in the hallways outside.

She concluded by saying that caring is like music. Silent music and the most important thing for a carer is to have a big heart. I knew at that point that we need more carers like Karen, who gives a new meaning to the term nursing care. And in case you’re wondering, yes, there is a place for poetry in the 21st Century.

An excerpt from Let’s Just Get It Right ©Karen Tidy 2016

The level of care and support that we give,

Dictates the standard of life that they live.

Time and attention, and a listening ear

Will dictate a plan of care that is clear.

Likes and dislikes, one sugar or two,

Walk with a Zimmer, with slippers or shoes.

A bath or a shower, which they like best,

A bra, a T-shirt or old stringy vest.

To eat at the table, with a spoon or a fork,

To sit there in silence or choosing to talk.

“I like rice, not potatoes, crackers not bread

Coffee not tea, I like that instead.”

Oh, please give me choices,

I know I can’t speak

Then show me a picture of what I may eat.

Wearing my night wear on top of my clothes,

Or my makeup all smudgy right over my nose.

Does this really matter? At least I have tried,

And managed to maintain independence and pride.

When I go to the toilet, please give me a chance,

Don’t stand there and hold me, then pull down my pants.

You make me feel frightened, you fill me with fright,

Then I just react with a kick and a fight,

And then I am labelled – it’s not really my fault

It’s a natural response to a downright assault.

Art Class Brings Joy

Frome Nursing Home ran art sessions for their family members who enjoy putting brush to paper.  The home always refers to their sixty residents as family members, which is part of their policy of being a real home from home.  Seventy-year-old Doreen Wilkins, pictured, has lived there for the last eight years and loves the art sessions which are run by Annie Davis and Angie Gordon, who are known collectively as the Jolly Good Company.

The home booked them because they know that creativity has enormous benefits for both the elderly and with anybody living with conditions such as dementia. Angie and Annie both said they love working at the Frome Home as they treat all their family members with dignity and respect.

The art sessions always start off with an announcement saying not to worry about making a mess as that is all part of the joy of painting. Doreen chose to design her own butterflies using a template supplied by Annie and Angie. She is concentrating on decorating her butterfly’s wings with a very fine paintbrush,but suddenly she sighs and puts her brush down, saying “I wish my hands were steadier”

Immediately, one of the home’s care team is by her side offering to help and a short while later the wing is starting to fill in with a bright blue hue.

“I love helping people create art” Annie says. Angie agrees, “It brings the art alive and it doesn’t matter if the artists haven’t painted anything since leaving school. It’s the taking part that counts. It’s fun and it’s inclusive” Doreen’s smiling face as she finishes her first wing certainly supports this.

In conversation with the care team at Frome, they say that they aim to keep everyone in the home occupied doing something they enjoy, rather than sitting, doing nothing. Keeping active, both mentally and if possible, physically too, is considered the best way to treat conditions that can come with old age.

“Activities offered within care homes should play a central role,” says Professor Martin Green of English Community Care Association. "Purposeful activities stimulate residents and improve their well-being.” They are also known to improve moods and reduce agitation.

In the Frome lounge where the art session is held, the family members have finished painting and are looking proudly at their completed butterfly wings on the tables in front of them.  Angie says that the family members look forward to these art sessions. Two-thirds of the home live with dementia and referring to these, she goes on to say that everyone in the art session was meaningfully engaged, even if just for a short while. It’s enjoyable and it’s the participation that counts.

Annie and Angie have come with a small tree branch, mounted in a pot, which they will pin the painted butterflies to after carefully drying each one with a hair drier. The artwork, including Doreen’s, will then be put on display in the home for everyone else to enjoy. The home’s care team puts it succinctly when they say “To see the face of someone who lives in a nursing home, full of pride and accomplishment, is a wonderful thing.”

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