The My Home Life leadership support programme has been extremely rewarding to the whole of our community at Boars Tye Residential Home and in particular it has influenced the way we now think about and approach activities.
Previously, activities were the sole responsibility of two activity assistants 1-5 Monday to Friday and a part time Activities coordinator. To be frank, it was never as successful as in our hearts we thought it might be. We only ever seemed to be engaging a small proportion of our residents with a moderate degree of success.
We now approach it very differently.
Rather than relying on two activities assistants employed 1-5 Monday to Friday and a part time Activities coordinator we now employ a housekeeper in the mornings to run the laundry system, and an extra carer in the afternoons seven days a week. This has freed up precious time for the carers to focus much more on the quantity and quality of time spent with residents - having much valued conversations, dealing with everyday needs, and organising activities more spontaneously based on both what residents might want and what carers feel they can do, given their own interests, imagination and what is in the activities cupboard. The Senior on shift that day also has the role of planning of the day’s activities. Meanwhile, those activities that need more planning, for example bringing in outside entertainers, is now taken care of by the management team.
The results have been dramatic. The home now feels enlivened and revitalised. You can see it, hear it and feel it. Both staff and residents have said it has made a great improvement. Carers leave at the end of the day feeling more satisfied that they have made a difference to the well-being of residents, which is after all why many came into this field of work. They now feel that their jobs are more rewarding. It is true to say that empowered staff means empowered residents, and that is what it is all about!
Care staff have commented how nice it is to bring their personalities into their role, some enjoy the singing sessions, others enjoy the quiet time chatting. As the My Home Life evidence base for best practice suggests, a home should resemble and feel like a community – somewhere where peoples’ different personalities and strengths are valued and appreciated – where we all feel like we can contribute, feel a sense of belonging and that we all matter.
We also have more great plans, encouraged by this initial success. We aim to create a “buddy “ system so that every resident has a close friend who they know well, and who they can spend time with. We will be including all of the staff in this whether they are carers, domestics or kitchen staff as we really want to continue on our path in creating a “whole home approach to life” at Boars Tye.
I have been so impressed with the way in which the staff at Boars Tye have embraced this change and look forward to even greater things to come. I realise too, that part of the success of this new way of working has been down to giving time and space to staff - to really listen to what they think and feel – and then to be encouraging and ‘can do’ in my approach to leadership. My Home Life has given me the confidence to be a new kind of leader/manager – a role that I have now embraced and enjoy a great deal.