John the Music Man

We have that #funfriday feeling today with ‘John the Music Man’ on the organ playing some #flashbackfriday tunes!  Look at the smiles, the feel-good effects of singing (and dancing) are well know… When you’re smilin’, when you’re smilin’ – he whole world smiles with you.  More great work from our team to promote and support #mentalhealthawareness









Dementia Action Week Coffee Morning

We had such a fantastic coffee morning yesterday to support #DementiaActionWeek2019 and raised over £170!!!    In order to promote Dementia Action Week people are being asked to start a conversation with someone living with dementia – it’s time to start talking! #AskAnything.  The event brought together residents from the care home and some of the people we care for in the community which was fantastic!  As always, a massive thanks to the team for their hard work in putting together another successful event.






Gents day out

Check out these Gents on their Men’s Day out! ✈️ A fantastic visit to Tangmere Military Aviation Museum last week.  

We were shown around exhibits in Merston Hall which included everything from early First World War biplanes to jets that broke the airspeed record!  We went into part of an original shelter to experience an ‘air raid on Tangmere’ with full sound effects…📢 not for the faint-hearted.  We looked at the other exhibits in the Battle of Britain Hall, the Middle Hall and the Tangmere Hall – all sorts of interesting memorabilia relating to WW2, the RAF and Tangmere Airfield itself.  

Thanks to everyone (especially our volunteers) who made this a special day #makingmemories #socialcareheros 







‘Start listening’ and let care homes ease winter pressures on NHS

Credit: Sondem/Shutterstock

Severe pressures in hospitals this winter has seen thousands of operations cancelled, causing social care leaders to urge NHS bosses to ‘start listening’ and let care homes do more to help.

Elderly people are among those who are most at risk of illnesses such as flu during the winter months. NHS England has said hospitals, GPs, ambulances and other NHS services have been extremely busy between Christmas and New Year and have reported higher levels of respiratory illness and flu.

In the final week of 2017, the NHS 111 helpline received more than 480,000 calls.

Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, which represents independent care home providers, said: “The NHS Acute Trusts could significantly reduce winter pressures by establishing long-term relationships with independent care providers. The care sector has been saying this for years and yet again the NHS has not listened and is in yet another crisis”.

Almost 5,000 people left waiting in ambulances

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt apologised to patients following a decision to postpone tens of thousands of operations in January because the NHS is struggling to cope with a surge in patients this winter.

Non-urgent treatments had already been cancelled until mid-January, but this has now been extended to the end of the month.

Handover delays outside A&E departments stop ambulances from getting to new emergencies. The handover of patient by ambulances at A&E departments is supposed to take no more than 15 minutes.

Almost 5,000 people were left waiting in ambulances outside A&E departments for one hour in the last week of December, as 12 hospital trusts revealed they had no beds free. These health trusts were operating at 100 per cent, well above the recommended 85 per cent.

‘Elderly lady slumped in a chair the whole night’

Karen Huisman’s 86-year-old father in Northern Ireland has a chest infection but had to wait more than 26 hours for a hospital bed. She says: “There were people on the floor, there were people sitting on chairs, most of them were elderly. There was an elderly lady that I remember very vividly who was slumped in a chair in her night dress the whole night. No one came near her. No one even put a blanket around her.”

A&E staff can’t move patients out of their department and onto hospital wards, because hospitals can’t discharge patients from their wards into the community. Shropshire County Council is working with care homes to ensure patients don’t stay in hospital any longer than necessary. The council is working to cut the number of patients delayed in hospital, known as a Delayed Transfer of Care (DToC).

At the end of December, Shropshire’s A&E departments got hospital staff from other wards to help with the volume of emergency patients it received and had already commissioned extra beds in care homes, which are block purchased to ensure they are there when needed.

‘Patchy picture’ across England says NCA

The Shropshire-based care home The Uplands offers nursing and specialist dementia care. It is run by Marches Care and has been drafted in to help this winter. Mandy Thorn, the managing director of Marches Care and vice-chair of the National Care Association (NCA), which is made up of small-and medium-sized care providers says: “If care homes were more involved in local winter planning, which is actually a year-round issue, we would probably see less of a problem with DToC.”

She believes this would be possible if they are “engaged early enough and sensible and respectful contract discussions take place – around block contracts at a price that reflects the additional support that short-term admissions require.”

She says when it comes to care homes being used to address winter pressures it’s “a patchy picture across the country”.

“Smaller independent providers are not always considered when local authorities and CCGs get together to discuss their response to winter pressures. When health and care professionals get together to respond to hospital bed pressures, not every local area takes into account the residential and nursing beds that may be available.”

Care homes see people return home within two weeks

Credit: Alexander Raths/ Shutterstock

At The Uplands, her 81-bed care home in Shrewsbury, there are 15 short-term beds available for either Discharge to Access (D2A) or rehabilitation. Ms Thorne says the majority of people coming from hospital into a care home into a D2A bed, then either go home or enter a lower form of long term care. “When in hospital you are not in a setting where you are necessarily encouraged to mobilise and to be independent. In a care home, people are given time, their own room, encouraged to get up and get dressed. It’s not about keeping people in a care home. We have seen people requiring only a couple of weeks to get well enough to go to their own homes.

“These services can’t be provided with spot contracts. Locally, Shropshire Council offers block contracts. Their innovations in relation to the use of care homes to reduce DToC should be adopted by other councils.”

According to figures from the Institute of Public Care, from April 2012 and April 2017, the number of care home beds available fell by 3,769. Add to this a major staff retention and recruitment problem in the care sector and the country’s ability to respond to a winter NHS crisis gets more challenging.

Responding to criticism from the care sector that some care homes’ beds are ignored in different parts of the country, Colin Noble, the leader of Suffolk council and health and social care spokesman for the County Councils Network, (made up of 27 county councils and 10 unitary councils), told “I think it comes down to market intelligence.

“Every single day we are working with every single care home. It’s a question of how much of a silo between CCGs [Clinical Commissioning Groups] and councils exists in an area. Local authorities know all of their care homes but that’s not always the case for CCGs.

“It’s a matter of CCGs using the council’s market intelligence about care homes.”

Care staff get greater job satisfaction

On 4 January, Prime Minister Theresa May denied the health service was in crisis saying: “The NHS has been better prepared for this winter than ever before.” But in the midst of challenges facing the NHS and social care, the managing director of Marches Care is sure about the silver-lining opportunities that exist, that would make it less of a bleak mid-winter for all concerned.

Ms Thorne puts it simply. “Staff in my care home report increased job satisfaction because they see people admitted to us from hospital needing significant support who then leave to go home after a couple of weeks because they are well enough to return to their own homes.

“Long-term residents have also benefited because they can interact with a wider variety of people who come into the care home, and who by seeing people get better and go home they can be more motivated to do more themselves.”

Lottery winner to keep job as she ‘loves working in a care home’

A care worker, who won a £1m on the Lotto, has revealed she plans to keep her job as she “loves” working in a care home.

Robert and Patricia Aldridge. Credit: The National Lottery

Patricia Aldridge, from Wexham, near Slough, won the money with her husband Robert, 57, on the Lotto draw on 9 December.

The 55-year-old, who even worked a 12 hour shift on Christmas Day, after her big win, said: “I have got no plans to give up work. I love what I do”.

Patricia was on a break at work and signed into her National Lottery account to play EuroMillions and check the Lotto results when she saw a message telling her she’d won on a Lotto Lucky Dip. The mum of three said: “I was chuffed to see I’d won on a Lucky Dip but just underneath that message I spotted a slightly more exciting one which said I’d also won £1,000,000 on Lotto and to call Camelot. It’s certainly not your average Tuesday email.

“When I rang Robert I told him to pull over, there was nothing wrong but he needed to pull over. Thankfully he did promptly and I told him I’d won on a Lucky Dip to which he replied ‘why get me to pull over for that?’, which is when I then told him ‘I think I’ve also won £1,000,000.’ It was certainly one of our craziest conversations!”

Robert headed straight to Patricia’s work where she ran out to meet him and call Camelot from the car. Patricia said: “I was convinced it was a hoax so when the lady at the National Lottery Line confirmed I was a winner I couldn’t stop giggling, I just didn’t know what else to do. I can’t imagine what anyone who saw us must have thought as we were both sitting in the car giggling but it’s not every day you win £1,000,000.

“Once I’d composed myself I went back to work to finish my shift without telling anyone we’d just become millionaires.”

That evening Robert and Patricia told their three children who are all in their twenties, the good news.

The couple have had a few sad Christmases lately and so they “hope that this win heralds a new and happier season of joy”.

“We lost both my parents three months apart just before Christmas a few years ago so it’s been hard to celebrate, then last year we all decided we’d make an effort again only to lose my brother to heart failure on Christmas Eve,” said Patricia.

“If I’m honest, following our loss last Christmas I really was beginning to think we were cursed for Christmas, but it seems that maybe our luck has now turned. This win doesn’t bring our loved ones back but it does mean we can help out our nearest and dearest and that’s a Christmas gift anyone would want.”

She added: “Neither of us plan to give up work just yet but it’s nice knowing we have the security to take things easier when, and if, we need to.

“We’ll definitely look for a new home but to be honest, we’d already started to think about moving to a place with an annexe so Robert’s parents could live with us. This win just means that house and annexe could be a bit swankier than originally planned!”

They have however already bought a new car. “Just a few weeks ago we’d decided we needed to change our car, it’s 14 years old and things are starting to go wrong on it. Suddenly that rather considered decision can now take place without too much concern for the financing so we’ve already test driven and ordered a new Nissan X Trail which we should have by Friday.”

Her husband Robert described the win as “life-changing” and said: “We just know our children are secure now. That is the best thing about it.”

The couple have bought a ticket every week for the last 23 years.

2 big birthdays!

Happy Birthday to Jackie, our fantastic Activity Coordinator, who turned 70 years young on 1st December. Residents, colleagues and friends surprised Jackie with a wonderful buffet lunch – although the word surprise does not do justice to the look on Jackie’s face when she walked into the lounge to see a crowd of about 40 people!

And today Ted turned 103, so time for another buffet lunch with many visitors to share his special day. Many congratulations Ted!


Staying well is not always easy – campaign highlights vital needs of older carers

Winter is well and truly with us now and with it comes the annual NHS campaign to ‘Stay well this winter’. It’s no surprise that older people – including carers (typically 65 and older) – are a significant target audience, which is why the Carers Trust have launched an awareness raising campaign called ‘Speak up for older carers’.  We invited Louise Marks, Dementia Policy & Development Officer for the charity to tell us more…

We all know how important it is to look after our health, by eating well, exercising regularly and getting good quality sleep. If we feel we are becoming unwell we are urged to seek support early from the pharmacists and rest. If we continue to feel unwell, we are advised to go to the GP.This advice is excellent. However for the vital, sometimes vulnerable group of older carers in our society, it is far from easy to follow. Many carers, especially those caring for someone with dementia, will have repeated disturbed nights and have little, if any, time to prepare healthy meals, exercise or relax. A new survey by Carers Trust reveals that half of the carers polled care for over 50 hours a week or 24/7.

Our survey also reveals that 85 percent of carers over 60 have at least one health problem themselves, with 67 percent directly attributing this to their caring role. Astonishingly, over 50 percent reported three or more health issues.

speakupforoldercarers_logoThe Stay Well campaign along with many other recent health campaigns encourages us to take preventative measures to reduce our risk of poor health. In the same Carers Trust survey over half – 57 percent of carers – said they had postponed or cancelled treatment for their own health problems due to their caring role. One of the main reasons cited for this was the lack of appropriate replacement care.

Looking after the health of our nation’s carers is vital. They are increasingly filling the funding gap in social care. If they are unable to be supported in their own wellbeing, then the health of those they care for may also be compromised. The knock on effects of this are likely to be increased costs for health and social care services, using up time and money better spent on prevention. Prevention we are told is better than cure, but it seems we need to do far more to prevent this important group of people experiencing poor health.

dorisanderic_bannerThe introduction of flexible or priority appointments, GPs proactively inviting carers for health checks and good quality replacement care services, could go some way to helping carers take better care of themselves, preventing their own long-term illness in the future.

That’s why we’re campaigning to raise awareness of issues affecting older carers in England. One action we encourage is to ask your local health service to identify carers at the free NHS Health Check.

In the meantime, visit our main campaign page to find out what else can be done – as individuals and organisations – to raise awareness of the needs of older carers. They need us as much as we need them!

Prevention is better than cure: tips for effective sustainability and transformation plans – Ewan King, 28 September 2016 — Care and support, Communities, Information sharing, Integrated care

“Sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) are becoming a type of ‘planning catch-all’ for the NHS,” says Ewan King in his latest blog for Social Care News. The Director of Business Development and Delivery at the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) explains how STPs are likely to contain everything from plans to stabilise NHS finances to actions on tackling cancer and diabetes. Given their breadth and complexity, Ewan offers his four top tips to create focused, genuinely effective plans…

Ewan King: ‘The deep involvement of local citizens, social care and voluntary providers in shaping STPs [promotes] a [shared] vision for integrated health, care and support.’

The ambition – as ever – is admirable. But what are the essential ingredients for a genuinely effective STP? Will they incorporate the best practices emerging in health, social care and within communities, or will they look only to the NHS? Here are my four top tips based on SCIE’s experience.1. STPs should chart the next phase of the integration of health and care. That was the vision for new models of care which many regard as the essential ‘building blocks’ for STPs. The best emerging practice in social care, such as personalised home care, supported living and reablement, should  feature strongly in the plans because you need the very best of both health and social care, jointly led and delivered.

From what we have seen so far, there is still some way to go. We hear too often that local authorities and the voluntary and private sectors are being excluded from decisions. In many cases, I think planners struggle to join up the myriad plans for acute hospitals and GP practices, with a similar plethora needed to deliver better community-based care.

2. Focus STPs on prevention. Stopping or delaying our deterioration in health and wellbeing in the first place. It is at the heart of the NHS Five Year Forward View and, by extension, STPs. And it is where care and support can have a real impact. Some of the very best care models – initiatives like local area coordination and Age UK’s Personalised Integrated Care model – focus on keeping people well and independent for longer in their own homes. Yet these kind of initiatives, which are crying out to be scaled up as part of the STP process, don’t yet feature strongly enough.

3. Co-produce plans with local citizens and wider stakeholders across the community, voluntary and care sector. They bring insight into what actually works, plus resources to deliver. In Leeds for instance, the deep involvement of local citizens, social care and voluntary providers in shaping the STP has ensured that a vision for integrated health, care and support is more prominent. This approach is not universal. A recent Nuffield Trust reportraised concerns about the lack of citizen involvement in STPs. At least new guidance from NHS England provides suggestions of how to do this well.

4. Learn and share. Use the best available knowledge about what works (and doesn’t work) in terms of commissioning and delivering sustainable care.SCIE’s prevention resource provides examples and models of emerging practice – such as community navigation schemes, social prescriptions and reablement. Many of these initiatives could be reflected in STPs.

STPs provide an opportunity to develop a more integrated system of health and care. If we are to make the most of that opportunity, we must fully engage with local citizens and the wide range of stakeholders who can contribute to its effectiveness.

Further information

SCIE’s work on STPs and integration

SCIE’s prevention resource: emerging practice and research to support commissioning decisions

Talents of the many must outshine the misdeeds of the few

Talents of the many must outshine the misdeeds of the few

Celebrating great care with the Skills for Care Accolades 2016/17  

One of the things that saddens Skills for Care‘s Chief Executive Sharon Allen the most about working in adult social care is that, all too frequently, the outstanding and compassionate work undertaken by social care professionals and organisations is undone by a minority, unfit or unwilling to treat those in need with dignity and respect.

Sharon Allen: 'It’s a chance for us to redress the balance, to shout from the rooftops that, on the whole, adult social care is provided to a very high standard by a dedicated, caring workforce.'
Sharon Allen: ‘It’s a chance for us to redress the balance, to shout from the rooftops that… adult social care is provided to a very high standard by a dedicated, caring workforce.’

Stories of neglect or incompetence, shared in the full glare of the media, shine brighter in the public consciousness, blotting out the amazing, transformational work undertaken by the decent and talented majority.

Now, it is absolutely right that wrongdoing or poor practice should be exposed and addressed. Skills for Care works relentlessly with employers and other partners to prevent, expose and eradicate poor practice, but not at the expense of showcasing the very best in our sector.

We are also committed to identifying and sharing great practice in leadership and workforce development whenever and wherever we can. That’s why we created the Skills for Care Accolades in 2003, making sure that – on at least one night of the year – employers, workers and training providers could come together to celebrate excellence in supporting the learning and development needs of frontline workers. It’s certainly the highlight of my year when I watch highly skilled and committed teams honoured for their outstanding work, which we then share across the sector.

It’s a chance for us to redress the balance, to shout from the rooftops that, on the whole, adult social care is provided to a very high standard by a dedicated, caring workforce. With that in mind, I want every one of the 19,300 organisations who offer adult social care to think about entering the Accolades this year – there are so many great stories to tell.

The benefits of winning were brought home to me when I visited Vida Healthcare in Harrogate with our Chair Dame Moira Gibb. The specialist dementia care provider won this year’s ‘Best Employer of under 250 staff’ accolade. It was so uplifting for us to meet the team and to hear about their commitment to values based recruitment and the ongoing learning and development they provide for their staff.

Moira and I were very impressed with their culture of open, engaged leadership and a quest for continuous improvement. We were also told that winning an accolade was a fantastic experience for the employees who came to the presentation night, and an inspiration to those back in Harrogate, who all took pride in having their efforts rewarded on a national stage.

Our job is to support all employers in our sector to achieve this level of genuine care – to create environments we’d be happy for someone we love to live in if they needed to. We want to replace the narrative of doom with positive stories of skilled care and support. I believe high profile celebrations like our Accolades night can only help.

So what are you waiting for? The Skills for Care Accolades are open to organisations of all sizes and individual employers.

Entry forms are available here.

The 16/17 awards categories are:

  • Best employer of under 50 staff
  • Best employer of between 51 and 249 staff
  • Best employer of over 250 staff
  • Best individual who employs their own care and support staff
  • Best employer support for registered managers
  • Best employer support for Apprenticeships
  • Best recruitment initiative
  • Most effective approach to leadership and management
  • Most effective approach to integration and new models of care
  • Best endorsed provider of learning and development

The closing date is Friday 23 September 2016. The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in Liverpool on Thursday 9 March 2017.

A society that respects, values and supports carers

With the call for evidence for the new Carers Strategy now closed, Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive of Carers UK, reflects upon what carers may want to see from the new strategy.

Carers UK’s vision is of a society that respects, values and supports carers. The development of a new Carers Strategy provides us with an important opportunity to set out the changes that need to happen to turn this vision into a reality.

There has never been a more crucial time to look at what carers need, both now and in the future. More unpaid care than ever is being provided by family and friends already worth £132 billion per year and, with our ageing population, the demand for care is set to increase dramatically.

Longer working lives also mean more of us will be caring alongside work – something that’s vital for our financial security but also for our economy. Caring is something that affects everyone and at the heart of the new strategy must be the recognition that it is one of the most important things any of us do in our lives. We want to do it well, and we need others to value and support what we do.

Our response to the call for evidence is grounded in the lives of thousands of carers who have shared their experiences with us over several years. Using data and feedback including our annual State of Caring survey, Adviceline and Members Summit, we developed a number of key outcomes carers need to see for the strategy, based on the challenges carers face, and what they told us they want to achieve.

Importantly, alongside the outcomes, we have set out concrete steps we believe the Government, working with others, need to take over the next five years, and beyond, to achieve them. These outcomes will act as a baseline for the success of the strategy – helping us measure its impact on carer’s lives.

So what are our key asks?

We must reach people earlier with information and support – we know that too many carers still do not get the right support, at the right time.

The strategy must have the ambition of improving financial support for carers at its core. Carers UK has long argued for changes to the structure and level of Carer’s Allowance and is pressing for a commitment to improve the benefit, alongside help with other living costs (such as council tax reductions for carers).

Alongside better financial support, new measures are needed to help carers juggle work and care. Specifically, we want to see a period of paid care put on a statutory footing, alongside an aim to make every workplace Carer Friendly.

Health and care services are a central part of carers’ lives, and we recommend the introduction of carer friendly hospitals, including a duty on the NHS to identify carers. This would ensure that carers are signposted to advice and information early in their caring journey, as well as recognise that carers are expert partners in care. Increased funding for social care services too is vital to make the Care Act real, alongside ring-fenced funding for carers breaks and a housing strategy that reflects the kinds of homes people need for caring.

Technology can play a significant role in making caring easier, and a new focus is needed on ensuring carers have access to the digital tools that can support them. This could be, for example, harnessing technology to deliver information and advice in a quick accessible way, to work remotely, to manage health appointments online or to provide reassurance that their loved one is safe.

All of us will be touched by caring in our lifetime, whether we take on a caring role or we need care ourselves. It’s vital that the Government listens to the needs and priorities of carers and, working with others, takes the opportunity of the strategy to transform the support available.