Promoting safety as part of Action for Brain Injury Week

Kieran Richardson-Cheater in one of the new cricket helmets

Kieran Richardson-Cheater in one of the new cricket helmets

To raise awareness of the importance of protecting your head and to promote Action for Brain Injury Week, we have donated 12 cricket helmets to The Juniors at Pitsford School. The helmets are fully adjustable so suitable for children of all ages.

Headway’s Action for Brain Injury Week is an excellent campaign that raises awareness of brain injuries and the importance of prevention. Our sons attend the school and play cricket, and we were aware that the kit was being reviewed. This seemed to be the perfect opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of protecting your head to avoid the risk of brain injury. If we can encourage good safety habits in our children, they will hopefully continue them as they grow older.

Mrs Julia Willmott, Head of the Junior School, said: “’I am delighted with this kind and generous donation to The Junior School and it gives us an ideal opportunity to highlight the importance of protecting your head to the children.”

For more information about the campaign go to: www.headway.org.uk

Bowls sessions provide a range of benefits

One of the most popular activities that we arrange in-house for our service users is the weekly bowling sessions that we hold in the main hall at The Mews each Monday.

We are fortunate to have Duggie Mitchell on our team, who is an experienced bowling instructor and has played competitive bowls for 35 years with success at Club, County and National levels. Duggie joined the board of Disability Bowls England in 2016 and continues to be inspired by the achievements of people with disabilities. His experience, skill and enthusiasm for the game as well as his empathy with the service users have contributed to the success of the sessions. Duggie is assisted by Lisa Hutchins, the Administrator at 144 Boughton Green Road, who helps with the organisation and keeps the score.

Bowling adapted to suit the players
The format of the game is Short Mat Bowling, which is very similar to Carpet Bowling. A mat 45 feet long and 6 feet wide is laid out in the main hall with guards at either end to stop the bowls running too far. A jack is placed at one end of the mat and each player uses weighted bowls to try and hit the jack. We have adapted the rules to meet the cognition needs and suit the various abilities of the players. They bowl eight balls each and Lisa records the number of ‘strikes’. People from all of our homes join in and we have a league in which around 20 players take part. One of our service users who is blind has mastered bowling very successfully. Other service users come along to watch and support, and it’s a lively, social occasion with lots of cheering.

Key benefits to individuals
What may just look like a leisure activity is actually an important element of our service users’ care. As well as being very enjoyable, the bowling sessions also help to improve:

Physical strength and dexterity
Co-ordination
Cognition and communication
Motivation and self-esteem
Social Skills

Duggie has been running the sessions for around two years and new players can join in at any time. He has noticed significant improvements in some of the participants and says: “I have seen so much change in many of the group since we started: going from little or no eye contact or verbal communication in the early days to total interaction and response. My partner and I went along to the Christmas party recently and it was lovely to have them recognise us and want us to join them dancing.”

Thank you to Duggie and Lisa for their help and commitment to these sessions. They have contributed to some significant improvement and much enjoyment for our service users.

Duggie Mitchell demonstrating short mat bowls

Duggie Mitchell demonstrating short mat bowls

Homes gain high scores in independent assessments

Headway Approved Providers
Two of our residential care homes for adults with acquired brain injuries – The Mews and 144 Boughton Green Road – have been recently re-assessed by Headway, the brain injury charity. The assessment process requires the home to demonstrate the provision of appropriate specialist care for people with complex, physical and/or cognitive impairment due to acquired brain injury. Headway has identified six key themes, or domains, against which it assesses the level of care provided, as well as issues such choice and dignity of service users. The domains are; Communication, Culture, Development, Governance, Quality, Environment (psychological/emotional) and Environment (physical).

We are pleased to report that both The Mews and 144 Boughton Green Road scored well in all of the domains to retain their Approved Provider Status for a further two years. This is subject to passing unannounced visits from Headway assessors during this time.

Headway Approved Provider

Quality Checkers
2&8 Kingsthorpe Grove, our homes for adults with learning disabilities, were recently assessed by Northamptonshire Quality Checkers. This is an independent assessment by an ‘expert by experience’ who meets residents in the home and performs a standardised quality check from the service users’ perspective. They are then supported by a co-ordinator to produce a report of their visit.

The Quality Checker on this occasion was Paul, who was visiting the homes for the first time. He met two service users with learning disabilities who live in the homes. One of them answered a series of questions and Paul used their answers to form the basis of his report. He gave the homes a top rating of ‘Very Good’ for all of the categories assessed, which were; home and bedroom, support staff, activities, food and drink, friends and people in the service user’s life, the service user’s health and what it’s like to live there.

Paul then asked the support staff and manager questions about procedures and safeguarding. As he was so pleased with the home, he made no recommendations for improvements to be made.

Information about other independent inspections of our care homes click here

Benefits of independent care home ownership

Following the news that an independent specialist care company in Northamptonshire has been sold, The Richardson Partnership for Care is one of the very few remaining independent family-run residential care providers that specialises in supporting adults with acquired brain injuries or learning difficulties.

Independent ownership gives us the freedom to take a long-term view and invest in the future of the business. This means that we can provide a long-term sustainable environment for the service users in our care. It is particularly important for service users with learning difficulties who need a secure, stable home – some of whom have been living with us for over 20 years. It is also important to their families, especially their parents, to know that providing a secure, safe, long-term home is one of our main objectives.

In addition, some of our service users with acquired brain injuries require long-term rehabilitation and are making slow but steady progress after having lived with us for over 20 years. For people who come to us for intensive short-term brain injury rehabilitation, knowing that they can come back for top-up rehabilitation or respite care is also important to them, their families and their case workers.

As the owners and managing partners, we are accountable to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) for the quality of care that the firm provides. We remain close enough to the day to day running of our care homes to ensure that we are delivering on our aims and objectives and are true to our original philosophy of providing community presence, choice, dignity and respect, community participation and competence.

As we are independent, we can focus on delivering high quality care at a fair price, we don’t have pressure from shareholders or private investors to realise short-term profits and raise high dividends. And we’d like to keep it that way.

Laura and Greg Richardson-Cheater

CQC Inspection for The Mews

An unannounced inspection took place at The Mews, one of our homes for adults with acquired brain injuries, in January. The Mews was rated ‘Good’ against all of the five key questions:  Is the service safe? Is the service effective? Is the service caring? Is the service responsive? Is the service well-led? Additional evidence was obtained to produce a full report, which you can access here

The Richardson Mews

The Mews. The Richardson Partnership for Care

Party food enjoyed by all

As we approach Christmas, parties and party food are an important part of the festivities. We are busy planning for the Christmas parties in all of our homes, but for service users with acquired brain injuries and associated swallowing difficulties, this requires extra thought and care.

Party food accessible to all has been a regular theme for service users’ get-togethers, and the impact of eating and drinking difficulties on service users is a subject covered in staff training sessions. One of the things frequently discussed has been how to make party food – traditionally sausage rolls and sandwiches – accessible and appetising for those people who take a single textured diet.

A great deal of thought and planning is going into this year’s Christmas parties and we are looking forward to preparing a range of appetising food that can be enjoyed by everyone. The menu will include:

  • Tasty sandwiches made into a single texture using a soaking solution as advocated by the thickening manufacturers
  • Open sandwiches topped with tuna and cheese spread
  • Finger foods made from ingredients such as smoked salmon and mashed potato
  • ‘Bite and dissolve’ crisps
  • Tiramisu – a particular favourite and flavoured with drinking chocolate to achieve the perfect single texture

In the past we have also used shot glasses to provide small tasters of a range of different flavours to make a change for special occasions. We are all looking forward to having tasty party food that can be enjoyed by staff and service users alike.

Christmas tree and presents

Holidays form important part of brain injury rehabilitation

During the summer, service users with acquired brain injuries went to a range of different holiday destinations including Norfolk, Lincolnshire, Shropshire and Wales, as well as supported home visits to all parts of the UK and further afield.

The choice of holiday destination is a decision made by each service user – we respect each person’s individuality and actively support them in making decisions, with the aim of increasing their autonomy. Not only is an annual summer holiday an enjoyable experience, for service users with acquired brain injuries it is also an important part of their rehabilitation programme and helps them in many ways. For example, a holiday is part of our focus on ‘normalisation’, enabling our service users to live as close to a normal life as possible and to enjoy things that they may have done before their brain injury, such as having a picnic or fish and chips by the seaside.

Novel experiences
Although some of our service users need to keep to a routine, they all enjoyed the opportunity to see and experience new things and especially meeting and chatting to new people. Novel experiences enhance learning and when they are put into a functional context, such as preparing for and taking part in a holiday, they can provide an important source of practice and maintenance for skills.

Short term memory
The holidays also provide a focus for orientation for service users experiencing short term memory loss. For instance, preparing for a holiday and buying new clothes provide cognitive stimulation and enable service users to be excited about going away.

There are benefits to be gained after the holiday too – putting all of the photographs into an album also aids cognitive stimulation and the album provides a novel reference point for discussions about the trip and assists in a service users’ ongoing rehabilitation.

Quality of life
Quality of life is important to everyone and a relaxed and leisurely week by the sea provides some fresh air and a much welcome change of routine. Supported home visits helped service users to reconnect with family members and gave them all a real boost. All of these activities form part of individual rehabilitation programmes to increase skills and independence and to improve service users’ physical and emotional well-being.

The Norfolk Coast

The Norfolk Coast is a favourite holiday destination for some of our service users

Feedback from Service Users’ families

At The Richardson Partnership for Care we strive to provide an open environment, welcoming feedback from service users’ families about the care of their loved ones. We also complete an annual survey, which provides family members with a more formal opportunity to tell us about their views on the care, support and rehabilitation services that we provide for adults with acquired brain injuries and learning difficulties.

The survey is entirely optional and consequently the number of responses can be quite small. However, we are very proud of the feedback that we have received.

100% of respondents strongly agreed or agreed with the statement:
“I am happy with the care provided”

100% of respondents strongly agreed or agreed with the statement:
“I feel that my relative is treated with dignity and respect”

100% of respondents strongly agreed or agreed with the statement:
“I feel that their quality of life has improved since they arrived at The Richardson Partnership for Care”

100% of respondents said that they would recommend The Richardson Partnership for Care

93% of respondents strongly agreed or agreed with the statement:
“The home has a warm, non-institutional feeling.”

93% of respondents strongly agreed or agreed with the statement:
“The home has an inclusive or family environment.”

We scored less highly on updating service users’ families with information – only 69% of respondents strongly agreed or agreed with the statement: “I am regularly updated with information.” This is therefore something for us to focus on and improve upon.

We were pleased to receive the following comments:

“All staff are great and some exceptional.”

“His life quality has improved considerably over the last 11.5 years. He lives in a calm, comfortable, caring, clean environment where he is encouraged to relax – waylaying his self-harm and anxiety”

“His life skills have developed from him being nervous and frightened to a confident and happy man.”

“Our thanks as a family for our daughter’s care and treatment.”

“He is very well cared for by professional carers who not only meet his needs, but work to challenge him to develop his social skills.”

We would like to thank all of the family members who took the time to complete our annual survey. If you would like any further information about our services, please contact us.

The Mews awarded 10/10 in Quality Checkers report

Voice Ability is an advocacy service providing independent advocacy for people aged over 18. The organisation supports people who use adult mental health care services with issues about mental health and social care.

Voice Ability also provides a quality checking service for a range of organisations including Northamptonshire County Council, the CQC and NHS Trusts. Their ‘experts by experience’ take part in quality assessments from a service user’s perspective.

Northamptonshire Quality Checkers recently assessed The Mews, one of our homes providing rehabilitation and residential care for adults with acquired brain injuries. Mike, the Quality Checker, had a look around the home and spoke with service users and staff. He said that he was made to feel very welcome, and the service users that he spoke to said that the house was very ‘homely’ and that the food was ‘delish’! They also told him about the activities in which they are involved: one service user does paid admin work at the home and another is starting a college course to study animals.

An area of key importance to Voice Ability is that service users have the freedom to make their own choices and are supported to take informed risks. The brain injury rehabilitation service provided at The Mews, aims to increase the independence of all service users and these elements of decision making are an important part of this rehabilitation process.

Mike also discovered that service users at The Mews have communication passports and hospital passports and that everyone has health action plans in their care plans. He awarded The Mews 10 out of 10 in his report.

We welcome independent assessments from all types of organisation, listening objectively to all feedback from third parties, service users, their families and our staff. We endeavour to continually improve the quality of life for people in our homes and the effectiveness of our rehabilitation services, wherever possible.

Bedroom at The Richardson Partnership for Care

A bedroom at The Mews

Sensory awareness groups

We learn about the world constantly through our senses and by interacting with it. This process of exploration and learning starts in childhood and continues throughout our lives. However, people with learning difficulties may not have had the same opportunities to explore and interact with their environment, and people with acquired brain injuries may need to repeat some of these learning experiences.

At The Richardson Partnership for Care, we have recently introduced sensory awareness sessions to the programme of group sessions that we run for our service users each week. They are designed to provide the opportunity for service users to use their senses to learn about and interact more meaningfully with the world.

The sensory awareness course starts with an introduction to the five senses – or methods of perception: sight, taste, smell, touch and sound. Then each session explores one of the senses in more detail, presenting several items to each member of the group and allowing them to become accustomed to their particular properties and the differences between them. We use examples that the service users will find in their everyday lives, including food and drink or items from the home or garden, helping them to embrace their own environment.

The service users can benefit from the sessions in many different ways. The programme aims to:

  • Gain, maintain and/or increase service user abilities to receive and differentiate sensory stimuli
  • Recognise the five senses of the body
  • Stimulate the service user’s appropriate response of sensory experience
  • Provide a multi-sensory experience or single sensory focus, simply by adapting the lighting, sounds and textures to the specific needs of the service user
  • Assist service users to gain the maximum pleasure from the activity
  • Develop the service user’s awareness of the different sensory experiences
  • Provide opportunities for social interaction
  • Increase awareness of own social skills and others around us
  • Help in the development of appropriate relationships
  • Increase confidence and self-esteem when interacting with others

The sessions are evaluated using group recording forms and informal assessments so that the needs and progress of each individual can be properly met and understood. This is in addition to the wider monitoring of service users’ rehabilitation progress.

The sensory garden at 8 Kingsthorpe Grove

The sensory garden at 8 Kingsthorpe Grove