Summer activities for Service Users

The summer is always a special time of year when, hopefully, the weather allows us to make the most of being outdoors, enjoying the sunshine and fresh air. When it comes to holidays, we make sure that they meet the needs of our service users, who are supported in deciding where they go and who accompanies them. Holidays take a lot of planning, which starts early in the year. But this pays off as they are really enjoyed by the service users who speak fondly of them on their return.

2 & 8 Kingsthorpe Grove – adults with learning difficulties
As many of our service users in these homes have been with us for a long time, they have built friendships and are aware of each others’ strengths, abilities, likes and dislikes. They go away in small groups and are involved in choosing their holiday companions and location. They like familiarity of holiday destinations and routine, so we work to get the balance right, taking into account relaxation and adventure. Destinations have included Yarmouth, Devon, the Isle of Wight and EuroDisney.

Individuals with acquired brain injuries
For our service users with acquired brain injuries, their needs can be more wide-ranging so we tend to organise holidays for small groups of two or three people, and some one-to-one holidays. One of our service users at the Mews had his first holiday since his brain injury 18 years ago when he went to Hemsby in Norfolk with two staff members. He had never wanted to go on holiday previously but had settled in really well since admission, so we offered him the opportunity. He went early in the season before it was too busy and it went really well. He normally mobilises in a wheelchair but he walked whilst in the holiday chalet.

Wherever possible, we try to accommodate specific requests for holiday destinations. The holidays are financed by accruing a certain amount each month then topped up if someone requires something extra. One lady wanted to go to the Eden Project, so with the help of the case manager, we sourced an adapted holiday home and we liaised with a local doctors’ surgery who were able to provide medical support. She went for a week with two carers.

One of our service users went to stay with his family in Serbia, while others shared a caravan at a holiday park in Skegness. Three people went for the first half of the week, three people went for the second half of the week and two joined them for a day trip in the middle. A good time was had by all – they enjoyed the evening entertainment in the clubhouse and daytime activities included going to the amusement arcade, the beach and the funfair, as well as paddle-boating and horse-riding.

In addition, a couple of service users went for a “Revitalise” holiday to Essex, where they joined in with activities such as armchair exercises, bingo and karaoke and had day trips to Clacton and Southend.

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. It is part of our focus on ‘normalisation’, enabling them 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.

The Norfolk Coast

The Norfolk Coast

European Neuro Convention – 7 & 8 June 2017

At this time of year, members of our admissions and referrals team and some of our senior managers are getting out and about across the country at various events. In June, we’re taking part in the European Neuro Convention at ExCeL London.

The European Neuro Convention is Europe’s largest event of its kind, aimed at medical professionals working in the rehabilitation of neurological conditions. Educational seminars, workshops and networking are run alongside an exhibition of around 150 companies.

CPD points can be earned in the educationally-focused seminar schedule and interactive workshops and live demos will take place.

Neuro Rehab runs alongside COPA Practice Growth and Elite Sports Therapy & Medical Rehabilitation and tickets provide entry into all three shows. They are available for free at www.neuroconvention.com or by calling 0117 929 6092.

We’d love you to come and see us at stand 9020 in the exhibition.

European Neuro Convention 2017

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

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

Wild Science brings some animal magic to The Mews

Wild Science, a specialist animal education group, brought some inhabitants of their ‘mini zoo’ to The Mews recently, where service users from all of our homes could take part in an ‘animal therapy’ session.

For service users who have mobility difficulties, or for people who would find visiting a real zoo an over-stimulating environment, the session presented an excellent opportunity to learn about some unusual creatures. It was a fun, engaging and fascinating afternoon for everyone who took part, providing close-up interaction with a wide range of different animals. These included a gerbil, a tree frog, a snake and a giant millipede, plus a pygmy hedgehog and a crested gecko, which were two of the most popular animals.

We learnt about all of the animals’ natural habitats and how they live. The Madagascan Cockroach was fascinating: we discovered that cockroaches have been around since the times of the dinosaurs, they can survive being frozen and can hold their breath for 45 minutes!

All of the service users were able to benefit from a new and rewarding experience and the joy of holding or stroking the animals was clearly evident for some people. In addition, simple interactions with animals can be a soothing and relaxing experience.

The ‘animal therapy’ session was part of a range of activities at our specialist residential care homes for adults with learning disabilities or acquired brain injuries. They are designed to provide a fulfilling and inclusive lifestyle and to assist in rehabilitation programmes.

Pygmy hedgehog

A Pygmy Hedgehog

A Madagascan Cockroach

A Madagascan Cockroach

144 Boughton Green Road regains Headway Accreditation

No two brain injuries are the same, as no two individuals are the same, so our specialist residential care homes need to cater for people with different needs. Service users may come to us several years after they have sustained a brain injury and after they have already had a period of acute rehabilitation. We continue their rehabilitation, working steadily and patiently with them to help them achieve their goals, recognising that it may take longer for them to reach their maximum potential.

Many of the service users at our home at 144 Boughton Green Road receive slow stream rehabilitation and long-term support. In 2013, the home received Headway Approved Provider status, following an assessment against a range of standards that reflect the specific needs of people with acquired brain injury. In June this year, Headway reassessed 144 Boughton Green Road and the home passed with flying colours. The accreditation has been extended by a further two years, subject to passing unannounced visits from Headway assessors.

Headway Approved Provider logoThe 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).

144 Boughton Green Road received a rating of Good-Excellent in six of the domains, and a rating of Good in the seventh. Well done to all the staff who work very hard to continuously improve the service and support that we provide to our service users. They help them to maintain their existing abilities and to progress towards more independence, and acceptance, in a positive environment. The whole team at 144 Boughton Green Road contributes to providing long-term rehabilitation in a supportive and homely environment.

A living room at 144 Boughton Green Road

One of the living rooms at 144 Boughton Green Road

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

Dementia awareness training

There is a rolling training programme every three weeks for care staff at The Richardson Partnership for Care and one of the topics is dementia awareness. The Alzheimer’s Society estimates that there are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, and people with learning difficulties and people who have experienced stroke or head injuries have a higher risk of dementia.

During the training sessions, staff learn about some of the more common types of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, frontotemporal dementia as well as rarer causes of dementia such as Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Korsakoff’s syndrome and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD).

Symptoms of dementia
Dementia describes a set of symptoms that may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem solving or language. As the symptoms can be consistent with different types of learning difficulty or acquired brain injury, it is important for staff to be aware of them and that dementia is a progressive condition. Dementia progresses as the structure and the chemistry of the brain become increasingly damaged over time.

The initial symptoms of dementia for someone with severe learning difficulties may not be typical. They may be changes in personality or behaviour, and therefore dementia may be harder to diagnose.  Our care support workers, home managers and multi-disciplinary team of therapists work closely with the service users in our care and keep daily records as part of their care plan. This familiarity and the knowledge of the care team, combined with regular reviews, help us to identify any health issues that our service users experience. Each service user is registered with a GP and has their own health passport.

Treatment and support
The dementia awareness training looks at how some medications can slow the progression of dementia and how diet and nutrition can help. It also covers activities, memories and how the environment can play a part in helping people with dementia to feel more secure.  At The Richardson Partnership for Care, our homely environment, familiar and structured routine can help people with dementia to feel safe and comfortable.  In addition, our person-centred approach helps to identify each person’s individual needs and supports them during everyday life, however their needs change.

Bedroom at The Richardson Partnership for Care

Our homely environment, familiar and structured routine can help people with learning difficulties or acquired brain injury and dementia to feel more secure

Training materials relating to dementia can be purchased from The Alzheimer’s Society, which provides a wide range of information www.alzheimers.org.uk