Becky Embracing Frome Family Member

Talking to Becky, our Care Practitioner

Being a part of the team at Frome Nursing Home is far more than ‘just a job’ and that’s what everyone at the home will tell you! Becky, a Care Practitioner, has been at Frome Nursing Home for over six years. She shares her thoughts and experiences of being part of the Frome family and the advice she’d give to anyone wanting to pursue a career in health and social care.

Tell us about your working role at Frome Nursing Home?

“My role as a Care Practitioner is amazing, fulfilling and heart-warming. We enable and empower the people that live with us to live with independence, happiness, and dignity. I love that my role isn’t task driven. My day revolves around the people who live here which means every day is different! My role is to support the nurses and the care team, just a small part of this support can be to ensure those who live at the home are engaged in occupation.  This can be as simple as knitting, reading a book, listening to music or just holding hands. Just as you would if you were doing this with friends or loved ones.”

How long have you been at Frome Nursing Home?

“I’ve worked at Frome Nursing Home for over 6 years now. I started as a Care Assistant in 2013, then after signing up for our Leadership Programme, I became a House Leader.  Today, I am a Care Practitioner – a position I have worked hard to gain. This enables me to support the clinical team in ensuring that people remain in good health as well as continuing to provide wellbeing support with the care team.”

What do you enjoy most about your working day?

“I love that I get to be a part of those special moments that happen each and every day here at Frome. That can be sharing an embrace, a trip out for the day or joining in with a crossword! It’s the connections with the people that live and work in the home that make being part of Frome so incredible.”

How did you get into the care sector?

“I watched my closest relatives become poorly and need help. That experience was what made my decision to pursue a career in care. I studied health and social care at school and then at Sixth Form. I had friends who were working here at the time and they always gave positive reviews of the home. It has always been a dream of mine to be able to look after people how they want to be looked after, and here at Frome, I realised I could.”

What would you recommend to anyone looking to work in the care sector?

“If you are someone who is passionate about helping people, value-driven, compassionate and caring, wants a rewarding experience and loves connecting with people then I’d recommend the care sector to you! At times it can be emotionally challenging, but the training we receive provides us all with the skills we need so we can support everyone who lives and works with us.”

What is the vision/future for Frome? 

“Our vision for Frome is for everyone to love, take part in occupation, have purpose, share laughter and tears. That we continue in this vein to enhance the lives of those living with us, whether that be for a short time or for anyone wanting to call Frome their home. There are exciting plans for Frome over the coming months and I look forward to being part of that future.”

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David King in Naval Uniform

A Day of Remembrance

On the 6th August 1945, the world was changed forever. Thousands of lives were lost within an instant. A city wiped out in the blink of an eye. However, the end of war was in sight.

The terrible tragedies in Hiroshima that day and then again, three days later in Nagasaki saw Japan surrender as the allied troops began to take hold of the war in 1945.

One of those closer than many to the tragic events of that day was Frome Nursing Home family member David King, 93 years young, who was serving on the HMS Venerable in the South Pacific on that fateful day.

“I was actually serving in the South Pacific, when they dropped the first atomic bomb,” David said.

David’s Naval service had begun in 1944 and serving on the flagship of the fleet he travelled to the Mediterranean Sea, through the Suez Canal and into the Pacific Ocean where he spent the majority of his time in service.

Serving with his younger brother Trevor, David was on one of three ‘light fleet carriers’ that served in the British Pacific Fleet.

A light fleet carrier was a ship that was home to two different types of aircraft, Corsairs and Barracudas that would take off and land on the ship.

The dangers of wartime Naval aviation..

Although in modern day naval aviation technology allows for aircraft to land and take off safely from aircraft carriers, back in the 40’s and 50’s crashes were far more common as the technology was less advanced.

David King in Naval Uniform

“We used to get bad crashes in my day, terrible,” David said, when asked what he remembers most from his Naval service.

Although the War concluded in 1945, David continued to serve in the Navy mostly in the Far East, travelling to Australia, Fiji and back to the UK via Malta. David’s eyes light up at the mention of his day’s spent on the water and recalls many a happy memory from this time. His favourite of all his destinations during his touring was Australia because it was most like his home of England.

David and his wife Pamela have lived in Frome, Somerset, all their lives and have seen the town transform and evolve throughout their time spent there. He attended the former Wesley Boys School in Frome before spending his senior school years at Sexey’s School in nearby Bruton.

David is now a well-loved family member at Frome Nursing Home where he has lived since September this year. Pamela, although 92 years young, visits David every other day and is embraced as part of the Frome family.

Remembrance Day at Frome Nursing Home…

Friend of the home and Frome’s Royal British Legion Chair Jane Norris donated the home a wreath so that everyone at the home could pay their respects and honour those who gave their lives in military service. Frome Nursing Home can’t thank Jane and the local Royal British Legion enough for giving all in the home the opportunity to join the local community in commemorating the sacrifice of servicemen and women in this country.

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Head Chef Ben cooking with the ever popular veg

World Vegetarian Day at Frome Nursing Home

October 1st was World Vegetarian Day, the yearly celebration promoting the ‘joy, compassion and life-enhancing possibilities’ of vegetarianism.

Frome Nursing Home head chef Ben Kerslake has ensured that any vegetarians at the home are catered for with every meal.

In fact, some of Ben’s vegetarian meals are proving so popular that even those who eat meat are ditching it in favour of his own meat free alternatives!

Betty Bateman, 94 years young, who is a regular beneficiary of Ben’s culinary prowess, is one of them, often opting for the veggie option for lunch. When asked about the food at Frome Nursing Home, Betty responds, “edible,” with a twinkle in her eye, as she looks up to grin at chef Ben.

Betty, along with many of the family members at Frome Nursing Home, is a big fan of Ben’s special Vegetarian Lasagne.

Doreen Wilkins is another family member who often chooses a vegetarian option when she eats and happens to think Ben’s cooking is eggcellent! Doreen’s three favourite things to eat are poached eggs, scrambled eggs and omelette, which of course, are all vegetarian. She described the food at Frome as, “fantastic, blooming brilliant!”

Head chef Ben, who last year finished as a runner-up in the 2018 Awards for Excellence in Vegetarian and Vegan Care Catering competition held at the houses of parliament is proud of the impact that he and other staff have achieved in diversifying the menu at Frome.

“It was a proud achievement because going back 12 to 13 years ago where we had no vegetarian options available, to being awarded for what we do now was great. We cater to our family member’s needs and they enjoy it!”

As well as being tasty, researchers suggest that increasing our vegetable intake can boost the health of our brains and could even reduce the risk of dementia. Eating wholegrains, vegetables, nuts, beans, and lentils regularly have been found to improve brain health.

Whereas large consumption of high cholesterol, saturated fat and iron, all of which are high in meat products, have been found to increase the risk in Alzheimer’s, the most common form of Dementia.

Although Ben spends a lot of time in the kitchen preparing food, he still finds time in his day to go out and socialise with the family members at Frome.

“I love it, spending time with the family members. I call it my second home; the family members are just amazing and the model of care we have here is brilliant.”

At Frome Nursing Home we refer to those who stay with us as family members rather than residents as we feel that best reflects the household model practiced in our home. For Ben, this rings true.

“We’re all one big family – I’ve got my aunties, my nans, they look at me as a grandchild as well, it’s all about that connection.”

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National Poetry Day

National Poetry Day at Frome Nursing Home

Karen Tidy – Carer of People, Rhymer of Words

October 3rd was the 25th anniversary of National Poetry Day and the theme of this year’s literacy celebration was ‘Truth.’

Karen Tidy, a Senior Governance Nurse who supports Frome Nursing Home, has written a collection of poems about some of the stark realities for people living with a dementia.

Karen, who was thrown into caring for her family after her father had passed away when she was aged ten, made the transition into professional caring when she became of age.

The poetry she writes comes purely from emotions deep within and from past experiences whilst giving end of life care before her time at Frome Nursing Home. During this time, she observed many people confined to their beds who were unable to verbalise or feed themselves anymore, which prompted her to wonder what they were thinking about and what they were feeling.

She says it is imperative that the people she cared for were still spoken to and included in everyday discussions. As soon as you stop doing that, she explained, that person becomes part of a conveyer belt system, on their way to their end, rather than thinking of them as a living person, complete with their feelings and frailties.

Karen reads her poetry to those who she cares for and loves, to whom so many have been so lucky. An excerpt from Karen’s poem, ‘What is Time to Me?’ is featured below.

What is Time to Me?

A second, a minute, an hour a day

What does it matter to me anyway?

I get up in a morning, have a cup of tea

The time of day doesn’t matter to me.

It seems like a rush, I feel like a number

Just leave me in bed to finish my slumber

Don’t rush me along and then down to the table

Let me take my time – you know I’m not able

To give myself food or make myself clean

Well I am 94, have you not seen

How feeble I am and how slowly I walk

All you do is rush and consistently talk

About which one is next, or what else to do

You just make me feel like a burden to you

I’ve just settled down and sat in my chair

To have 40 winks and then someone’s there

It’s my bath day today I wish they wouldn’t hover

And rush me again it’s just so much bother

Its mid-afternoon I just want to nap

Not be pestered and tugged and dunked in the bath

Leave me ‘till later when I go to bed

But please do not hurry, go slowly instead

And seeing as you’re listening, I might as well say

Don’t put me to bed to get me out your way

I know I might hinder you as I wander around

But I like to feel free to walk up and down

Or to watch the TV once in a while

I’m sorry if this cramps your routine and style

But try and imagine just how I feel

When time dictates every drink, every meal

Every conversation – and sometimes they’re few

Is dictated by how much you’ve got to do

©Karen Tidy 2011

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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.”

Frome Nursing Home Chef Awarded in Parliament

Head Chef, Ben Kerslake, Frome Nursing Home with Home Manager, Maggie Rhodes

Ben Kerslake, the Head Chef at Frome Nursing Home, a 60-bed residential and dementia care home in Frome, was named as runner up in the 2018 Awards for Excellence in Vegetarian and Vegan Care Catering, held in the impressive surroundings of the Houses of Parliament, on 17th October.

 

The awards are run by the charity, Vegetarian for Life (VfL) who are a leading authority on meat free diets. Surprisingly, out of the UK’s 18,000 care homes, there are currently only two that are fully vegetarian. One of VfL’s major goals is to increase this number and improve the quality and range of vegan and vegetarian catering in all British care homes.

Ben was one of 3 semi-finalists chosen by VfL in their annual search to find the country’s best veggie care home chef.

In the home, Ben cooks a daily choice of dishes for both vegetarians and meat eaters, but the veggie options often prove to be more popular than the meat ones. His diners, say his vegetarian lasagne and cous-cous stuffed peppers are their favourites.

Frome Nursing Home Manager, Maggie Rhodes said “We’re delighted with Ben’s recognition in these prestigious awards. We’re one big family here, and always refer to our residents as family members. Our home is somewhere they always feel safe, and with Ben’s culinary skills, are always brilliantly catered for, too”

Amanda Woodvine, Chief Executive of VfL, said: “The awards have been an incredible way to celebrate the charity’s 10-year anniversary and to recognise the fantastic achievements of trailblazers in the care industry. The winners, and runners-up, are making a huge difference to the care and choices offered to older vegetarians and vegans.”

The home is part of the Bristol based, Evolve Care Group, who run 12 care homes, spread across the South West and have invested over £1.5m in developing a pioneering new model of care for those living with dementia which has been rated as Outstanding by the Care Quality Commission.

Jerry Short

Feature Writer, Evolve Care Group

Why Doesn’t the UK Have a Women’s Equality Day?

Wendy Mills, in Frome Nursing Home, and, pictured right, about to break the sound barrier.
Wendy Mills, in Frome Nursing Home, and, pictured right, about to break the sound barrier.

60 Years Ago, The RAF Told Wendy Mills, No Female Pilots

Now living in Frome Nursing Home, I asked her if things had changed

The 26th of August was Women’s Equality Day but only in America. In the UK the date is meaningless because we don’t have a day set to celebrate women’s equality, despite British women wining the right to vote over 100 years ago and having had a female Prime Minister for 11 years.

I wanted to speak with someone who had lived through many decades of discrimination and learn what they thought about this, so I started researching Nursing Homes in the South West, to find somebody who was both the right age, and had a powerful story to tell.

I found that person in Frome Nursing Home. One of their residents is 84-year old, Wendy Mills. Frome refer to all their residents as family members, and after I explained the reason for my visit, Wendy was keen to talk with me.

As a child, she had watched the Battle of Britain in the skies over her childhood home in London and grew up determined to become a pilot. As soon as she was old enough, she applied to join the Royal Air Force but when she asked about flying, she was told point blank, that they didn’t accept female pilots. She was angered and disappointed but didn’t let her frustration show. She went on to do her basic training in North Wales before going on to work as a fighter plotter, who are those women you see in war movies, pushing model aircraft around a map, with sticks. This was during the Cold War years when there were regular incursions into British airspace by Russian bombers, usually coming in over Scarpa Flow. Wendy and her team would scramble fighters up to intercept them. Her shifts could last 36 hrs, meaning she slept and ate underground, in a top security bunker in Norfolk. The job was onerous because the aircraft were sometimes carrying nuclear payloads. Before her shifts, she told me she would walk in the fields around the bunker, filling her nostrils with the scent of vegetation, because if a nuclear war did ensue, it may have been her last chance to experience that.

 

She did well in her post and was soon promoted to Flight Sergeant, but she never lost her yearning to fly. One day, she noticed a magazine advert for women to join the RAF as air-crew. Eagerly she took the magazine across the airfield to where the flight crews were based and knocked on the commanding officer’s door. She waited nervously before being invited in. She presented the magazine and explained that she was requesting flight training and had thought of little else since she was a child. The C/O smiled and carefully read the piece before leaning back in his chair and telling her that she’d need to pass a medical exam and get permission to fly, from her own commanding officer.

A few days later she presented him with both. The C/O smiled, stood up and told her to follow him. They walked into a large room, where the aircrews sat around smoking and drinking coffee before their missions. He introduced Wendy as their first female air crew member. The place erupted with cheers and whistles. Wendy’s eyes twinkled as she tells me this, the memory still fresh in her mind.

Although women could be air-crew members in 1958, they were not allowed to be operational pilots for another 34 years. In 1992, long after Wendy had left the RAF, the government finally announced that women would be allowed to fly military jet aircraft. But what had happened to Wendy?

She left the RAF, to get married and start a family. She went on to work as a successful aviation journalist for the Yorkshire Evening Post and spent her first month’s wages on flying lessons.

It turned out that she was a natural and quickly passed her pilot’s licence and then became a flying instructor and then a flight examiner and taught flying instructors how to teach. She continued to write aviation stories, including one memorable piece when she flew faster than the speed of sound, as a co-pilot in a 2-seater Phantom jet fighter.

Impressed by her remarkable story I asked Wendy if she thought the UK needed a Women’s Equality Day. She sighed before turning to me.

“Of course we do, dear. Things have improved, but I think Westminster still needs a good shake up, don’t you?”

I do, Wendy, I do. Suffragist, Millicent Fawcett, said, “Justice and freedom for women are worth securing, not only for their own sakes but for civilisation itself.”  It seems that millions think we should have a Women’s Equality Day. Last February 6th was the centenary of women getting the vote, so surely that would be an ideal date, but it does beg the question, why don’t we have one set already?

Jerry Short, Evolve Care Group

The 5 pillars of Comfort in Dementia Care

Comfort is defined as A state of physical ease, free from pain or constraint.

Comfort is also one of the six emotional and psychological needs highlighted by Professor Tom Kitwood, to maintain a sense of well-being for anyone living with dementia.

For a medium sized care organisation such as Evolve Care Group, keeping over 300 residents, whom they refer to as family members, living comfortably in their care homes, is a job that is not without its challenges. They advocate following 5 pillars of comfort.

1 Comfortably warm

The World Health Organisation’s standard for comfortable warmth for the elderly is at least 20 °C, but there is a certain amount of subjectivity with temperature preferences. Some choose to sit closer to a heat source, whereas some may opt to sit near a doorway or window, preferring cooler climes. To be a comfortable home, family members need access to both warm and cool locations.

2 Comfortably Sated

In the UK an adult eats an average of 3413 calories a day (approx. 1.8kg of food) but for somebody with dementia, this is likely to be lower, since eating difficulties are more noticeable as the dementia progresses and a reduced ability to taste or smell becomes evident, which reduces appetite. Desserts are often favoured over savoury foods, so, adding small amounts of honey or glucose to main courses can sometimes result in entire meals being consumed, as well as increasing the carbohydrate level of the food.

In later stages of dementia, chewing and swallowing can become difficult. Ben Kerslake, Evolve’s chef in their Frome Nursing Home, offers purees, moulded from casts of the food they are reconstituting, so that pureed carrots are served in a shape of a carrot. This has resulted in an increase in vegetable consumption. Eventually though, food may be refused entirely, in which case there is a difficult balance to be found between continuing to offer sustenance whilst maintaining that person’s dignity.

3 Comfortable Environment

To offer excellent dementia care, a calm environment is needed to help family members relax and rest.

Care homes need to be carefully designed and attention paid to noise levels, intensity of lighting and the décor of rooms, including colour and patterns on walls and carpets. Quiet areas need to be offered, for those that need a peaceful spot and the use of Bluetooth headphones can ensure those wanting to listen to music or watch television, can do so without disturbing those around them. In terms of lighting, minimising shadows and bright reflections can enable family members to relax more.

The Group’s Sundial Care Home uses the skills of an interior designer to make sure anyone living there is as comfortable as possible and this may have helped them in a recent inspection by CGC who rated the home as Outstanding.

4 Comfortably Occupied

Keeping those with dementia, occupied is an important part of care.  Activities improve self-esteem and can reduce loneliness. Walks around the garden or day- trips outside are recommended in the earlier stages of dementia. They are healthy activities and even when later stages have been reached, music is an entertaining way to stay occupied. The part of the brain that deals with the recognition of songs, thankfully remains comparatively unaffected by the condition. Music can still bring pleasure, even when vocal communication is no longer possible.

Person centred care is offered because it increases well-being. The key is being adaptive and observing situations from the resident’s point of view which means problems can often be avoided. If, as happened recently, a family member entered a dining room at 11:30pm, asking for breakfast, the Night Care Team sat them down and offered them breakfast.  Had they tried explaining that it wasn’t breakfast time, and offered a cup of cocoa instead, this would have caused confusion and been disorientating.

 

 

 

 

 

5 Comfortably Housed

Making a living area dementia friendly is not a science. Bringing in personal items from former homes is important, such as photos, or a favourite blanket, or even favoured items of furniture that have a long family history, can be moved in. These can provide reassurance and remind the person which room they are in. Making a care home comfortable also means anticipating needs. It means managing pain before it is out of control, it means encouraging someone to rest before fatigue sets in and engaging with someone before they become bored or lonely.

Team Work

This sort of care operation relies on up to 450 skilled care staff and is a 24 hour a day ministration, so the fees charged can be high, but comfort, dementia expertise and safety do not come cheaply. The company spends around £80,000 a year, just on gas. It is not surprising to learn that the number of residential care businesses that went out of business, almost doubled last year, with 148 closures. Accountants have said the introduction of the national living wage has driven up the cost of providing care, but what is the alternative? Uncomfortable and unsafe care?

Comfort in a care environment is about carefully listening and observing to ensure the well-being of everyone is maintained. Or, put another way, it can mean breakfast at 11:30pm sat on a favourite sofa in a home from home.

Jerry Short, Content writer, Evolve Care Group

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