Care Home Open Day shows the impact of networking

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On Friday 16th June thousands of care homes across the UK will be opening their doors to local communities on National Care Home Open Day. This industry-wide event allows families, local people, charities, interest groups and more to come and interact with residents and staff to see what care for the elderly within a care home environment is really like.  

Helen Colaco, RGN, Deputy Manager at Barchester’s West Abbey Care Centre in Yeovil explains how important this day is and the need for networking with local communities:

“Everything we do is for the good of the residents and part of this is to make sure we know about every opportunity that will enhance their physical and mental well-being. We have 91 beds here which cover nursing, dementia, acquired brain injury (ABI), and young disabled care – so we have a wide variety of conditions to manage.”

“Care Home Open Day is a lovely, fun day where we have activities for everyone such as petting zoos, live music, barbecues and face painting. It has the feel of a village fete. We invite so many different people – family and friends, the local church, the Scouts, local paramedics and many more. All these people can help our residents have a better life, so networking with them on our resident's behalf is essential for us."

These networks are vital, says Helen. Having a strong local network at your disposal empowers you to deliver better care to your residents.

“To give an example, we have one resident who has been with us for over 19 years and unfortunately got a pressure sore. As she has an ABI with complex needs, we needed to think on our feet to get her the right treatment to avoid a stay in hospital. This meant working with the GP, the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG), the family, the Somerset Partnership, and of course the resident herself.  We worked hard to ensure she received the best treatment, which ended up being a Vacuum-Assisted Closure – something not usually found in care homes. “

“We were trained in the procedures and protocols so we could deliver the care she needed. We then had to work with the wider Multi-Disciplinary Team, such as the Occupational Therapist, the CCG and the family, to ensure it wouldn’t happen again.”

“It took a lot of hard work and support from the community to make sure our resident received the best treatment possible. Thanks to the big team effort a prolonged hospital stay was not required; avoiding emotional distress for both her and her family. We were proud that we managed to achieve this and it has also given us great personal development.”

However, it isn’t always as complicated as finding treatments and learning whole new skills. Sometimes it just takes a bit of networking and that can get you what you need, as Helen describes:

“One of our gentleman residents who has Parkinson’s loved being outside, but had lost the ability to do that. With a little bit of asking around and digging, excuse the pun, we found the Man Shed Club. He now goes to a day club that replicates the pottering in the shed and garden he used to love, and it has given him a new lease of life.  We have also got Holy Communion back in the home and are looking to work with a local primary school so the children can come here and the residents can go there for trips.” 

Like charity, Helen believes community starts at home:

“We are our own community here in the home and as a Deputy Manager you have to be visible to all the staff, your residents, and their families. It is all about communication and networking.”

“I joined Barchester because I couldn’t offer the type of care I wanted to with my previous employer.  Here I can. For me, nursing is about caring for people and making sure they are both clinically and emotionally looked after with dignity.  Communication is the key, be it with the staff, residents, or with the local community. It is the foundation of good care, whether it’s on Care Home Open Day or any other day.”

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