Christmas activities in our care homes

Throughout the year we have a wide range of activities for our service users with acquired brain injuries or learning disabilities to enjoy, but at Christmas this is especially important. While many service users go and stay with their families at Christmas, we want to make the day special for those who remain with us over the festive period.

Christmas activities are discussed and planned with service users in their regular house meetings, so they can decide (with support as required) what they would like to do.

This year, Sallie Maris, our Arts & Crafts lady will be ‘chief elf’ when it comes to making Christmas decorations. She will be supporting her helpers to make Christmas bunting and mobiles. Not only is this very enjoyable, it is an important part of our ongoing support and rehabilitation programme, helping people to improve their concentration and dexterity, learn new skills, give them a sense of achievement and satisfaction and increase their self-esteem. We will be using the decorations in each home, as well as for the joint Christmas party on 20th December.

Making a Christmas star

Having a large hall in The Mews enables us to provide opportunities for service users and staff from all of the homes to get together for social events. We hold short-mat bowls sessions in the hall, usually once a week, and monthly music sessions with Simon the Sax. It’s also a great place to hold the joint Christmas party and we have a travelling theatre group coming to perform The Wizard of Oz here for us.

There are lots of trips to see Aladdin at the theatre in Northampton as well as various Christmas dinners taking place – going out to the local pub for lunch, plus Rock Club (service users get together for social activities from three different organisations) and the Headway Christmas lunch. Also, the staff in each home will be coming in on Christmas Day to cook lunch and a former service user from one of our homes has been invited back to spend the day with some of his old friends.

We’ve also been baking gingerbread and other tasty treats. And our home at 23 Duston Road has a new karaoke machine, so there will plenty of singing, as well as various games to play, watching Christmas films and DVDs and going out for a Christmas Day walk, weather permitting.

From all of us at The Richardson Partnership for Care, we would like to wish you a happy and peaceful Christmas and all the best for 2018.

 

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

Families’ survey results 2017

We encourage feedback from the families of the service users in our care on a regular basis, but once a year we formalise this process by sending them a short questionnaire to complete. It is sent to both the families of service users who have learning disabilities and those who have an acquired brain injury. We ask all families whether they strongly agree, agree, don’t know or disagree with the following statements:

1. I am happy with the care provided for my relative
2. The home has a warm, non-institutional feeling
3. The home provides an inclusive or family environment
4. Staff are friendly and approachable
5. I am regularly updated with information
6. I feel that my relative is treated with dignity and respect
7. I feel that their quality of life has improved since they arrived at The Richardson Partnership for Care
8. I feel that my relative takes part in meaningful and/or enjoyable activities
9. Would you recommend The Richardson Partnership for Care?

We are very pleased that:
100% of respondents strongly agreed or agreed with the statements: “I am happy with the care provided” and “The home has a warm, non-institutional feeling.”

And 100% of those who answered said that they would recommend The Richardson Partnership for Care to others.

We take note of all the feedback and we’re not complacent, making sure that we address any concerns raised. The responses to each question are show below:

graph showing 2017 survey results

2017 Survey results

We would like to thank all of the family members who took the time to complete our annual survey, and we are delighted with some of the comments that we have received. Some of them are shown below with the names removed to protect the identity of the service users.

Comments from families of service users with learning disabilities:

“He has been there over 20 years. Quality of life could not be better.”

“The home is friendly and welcoming, the other residents are pleasant and friendly… They know her so well and it is her second family, and when we visit we are welcomed… She gets help and support from all and she is treated with respect and love… I have no problem recommending your services, they are outstanding.”

“He has progressed so much this year, being able to go on holiday and attend social events… He realises he is cared for well and that he is valued within his community… He is like a new man, he was very dependent on drug therapy when he arrived at Richardson’s. Your care has enabled him to flourish and grow… the social and psychological stimulation helps him make progress. We would like to thank you for all your highly skilled and sensitive work with him.”

Comments from families of service users with acquired brain injury:

“Excellent care that has made a positive difference to my husband and his demeanour… Importantly staff display a warmth, empathy and understanding towards my husband…Thank you. Your care of my husband has made a big difference to his quality of life.”

“I have always been very happy with the care my sister has… Although she is not much of a mixer, there is a good family atmosphere… She has very challenging behaviour but I think she has the best quality of life possible… As long as she has been with the Richardson Partnership, she has only ever got the best care possible.”

 

Residential care in the heart of the community

There is much debate on whether community-based support is better than ‘institutional care’ but of course, it depends on the individual. It also depends on the type of care and support. One of the best ways to describe our specialist residential care homes is ‘a place that feels like home’. Yes, we deliver effective intensive short-term rehabilitation and long-term rehabilitation for adults with acquired brain injury. We also provide care and support for adults with learning difficulties and behaviour that challenges. And we have a high support worker to service user ratio, but we strive to provide an environment that feels like a home, not an institution. It’s safe, comfortable and homely. Our homes provide companionship, and protect vulnerable people from social isolation, loneliness and hate crime.

Community engagement
We also enable service users to be part of the local community. All of our care homes in Northampton are situated close to local shops and facilities, as well as within easy access to the town centre. For service users who are able to, popping out to the local shops means that they feel part of the local community and ‘normal’, especially when they see people they know. It’s also part of our focus on ‘normalisation’ for service users with an acquired brain injury. Enabling them to live as close to a normal life as possible is an important part of their rehabilitation.

We are fortunate that we have some great local pubs where the staff understand the needs of our service users and are very welcoming and helpful. In December we held a 60th birthday party for a service user at the local pub. Donald enjoyed a lovely meal with his sister, all his fellow service users from his home and members of staff. He’s been living in our care home for over 20 years and it was a really lovely occasion. And the pub staff even sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to him!

Donald's birthday cakeCompany ethos
As well as everyday trips to the shops and special occasions, there are also trips to the cinema, sports centres and cafés. They help every service user to become familiar with their local environment and make them feel at home. It’s all part of the ethos of The Richardson Partnership for Care, ensuring that service users are treated with dignity and respect, actively supported to make their own choices and given the opportunity to participate in community activities.

Donald and his sister

Donald with his sister at his birthday party

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

Care homes shine in independent feedback

At The Richardson Partnership for Care, we strive to have an open relationship with service users and their families so that they can tell us straight away if they are concerned about any aspect of their care or their home. We hold regular care reviews as well as completing an annual survey.

This year we have also encouraged service users and their families to provide feedback directly to the online directory carehome.co.uk. Our homes for adults with learning difficulties, 2 & 8 Kingsthorpe Grove, achieved a recommendation score of 9.6 out of 10 from the directory, and we are very proud of some of comments they received. For example, here is a comment from a parent of one of our service users with learning difficulties:

“Our son was taken in by Jayne Payne in 2009. He was in a terrible mental state, he’d been sectioned in Oxford in 2007 for violence, and he had always lived at home until then. Well, Jane and her staff worked and worked with him until he is almost like his old lovely self. They bring him home to us once a month on the Isle of Wight for two days and he looks forward to this as much as we do. We cannot say enough good things about the home: they saved our lives and our son’s. The medical care is fantastic and they are always loving and tolerant of our son, even on his bad days.”
Jane S

And this is what one of the service users had to say:
“I like it here, I am happy here and all of the jobs I do. I like the staff. I go out for drinks and meals out. I have had my bedroom painted. I like my bathroom. I like my lunches. It is a good place to live.”

Click here to see a summary of the survey results  or here to go to the carehome.co.uk directory

A collage created by service users at 8 Kingsthorpe Grove

A collage created by service users at 8 Kingsthorpe Grove

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

The Joys and Benefits of the Local Pub

Reports show that in today’s modern world, where people are ‘online and connected’ 24 hours a day, they are less likely to know their neighbours. This can lead to a sense of loss of community, isolation and loneliness.

For people with disabilities, this risk of being isolated from the local community is even greater. At The Richardson Partnership for Care, there is a sense of community within each home and a choice of communal spaces, so services users can choose what to do and who to socialise with. Service users also have their own programme of activities, which is designed to support them in their development, as part of their care plan.

However, sometimes there is nothing quite like going to the local pub for a meal. Routine and familiarity are very important for many of our service users with learning difficulties and they particularly like going to The Cock, in Kingsthorpe, Northampton. It’s a comfortable and friendly place to be and it’s run by Rob and Liz who are always happy and welcoming towards our service users. They have a great rapport with our staff and service users and do what they can to support positive experiences for the individuals in our care.

Rob the manager

Rob, the Manager at The Cock

And it’s not just staff at ‘The Cock’ who are friendly. Many of the regulars also have time for the service users and this supports important social relationships within the community. It really does make their local pub feel like it’s their local too.

Delicious and great value food, whether it’s ‘Cowboy burger and chips’ or ‘curry night’, mean that this a favourite place for many of our service users and it’s frequently requested when we’re discussing social activities. Along with Rob and Liz, we would like to thank Mark the chef and staff members Shan, Beth and Claire who also play an important role in welcoming and supporting our service users when they visit The Cock.

The Cock is on Harborough Road at the Cock Hotel Junction, serves food daily from 12 noon until 7:30pm and is open from 12 noon till 11pm. You can contact Rob and Liz on 01604 715 221 and find out more at https://www.facebook.com/thecock.northampton

The Cock, Kingsthorpe

The Cock, Kingsthorpe – our local pub

Helping people with dysphagia to enjoy food safely

Dysphagia (or difficulty with chewing and swallowing) is common amongst people who have had a stroke or other type of acquired brain injury. It is often caused by damage to the nerves and muscles of the head, face and neck and also by damage to the brain. If it is not managed properly, dysphagia can have a significant detrimental impact on the health of the person, leading to malnutrition or dehydration, because of inadequate intake of food and fluids. It can also increase the risk of choking or lung infections caused by food getting into the lungs.

One of the strategies that may be employed to help overcome certain difficulties of dysphagia is thickening liquids so they are easier to control in the mouth, and blending foods to form a paste so that they don’t require chewing.

Understanding dysphagia
Our activity support staff help our service users to prepare and eat meals every day, so it essential that they understand dysphagia. We also believe that people with an acquired brain injury have a right to enjoy their food as much as anyone else, and we try to normalise it as much as possible.

As part of our continuous training programme, our speech and language therapist recently delivered dysphagia training to support workers. They learned about the different stages of swallowing, what can go wrong at each stage and different diet and fluids that can be used to help manage the difficulties people have.

Our approach
Texture, colour, form and variety are important factors affecting the enjoyment of food, so considerable thought and care must be taken to ensure meals are appetising to people with dysphagia. Here are some the points that were covered in the recent training session.

• We take personal preferences into account as well as each individual’s physical abilities and risk factors
• Fizzy water mixed with fruit juice can provide an alternative to thickening for some service users
• Soft foods like salmon mousse and sweet potato pudding add interest and variety
• Meat and vegetables are blended separately so that each retains its individual flavour
• Strong flavours and foods like faggots and gravy blend well to create a tasty meal, which is served with separately blended vegetables
• Fruit smoothies or smooth vegetable soups provide tasty and nutritious thick drinks
• Cooked foods need to be checked before serving as they can change during the cooking process
• Sandwiches can be modified to a single texture using a soaking solution.

Jennifer Cranstoun, a Senior Care Worker who took part in the training session summed up our approach by saying: “You treat individuals as if they are your family. You want to serve them tasty, nutritious meals that they will enjoy.”