Who cares wins

Stories of care: what are you going to do that is going to make a difference?

Care is full of challenges, and requires commitment, bravery and compassion. Care often comes with preconceptions, and sometimes it is wonderful to see them proved wrong. We recently had the pleasure of visiting one of our customers deep in the heart of beautiful Hampshire countryside. In a rural setting where there is definitely no mobile signal, Greenview is a care home very much online with full WiFi. Where staff turnover is so often such a great challenge in care, here is a home where a key member of staff has worked there for 28 years and continues to look after people with enthusiasm and dedication every single day. Many young students have also worked at the home and gone on to pursue a career in care across many different disciplines.

Ian Bradford, owner of Greenview, tells us: “I ask of everyone who works here: what are you going to do that is going to make a difference? We have had a number of younger people work here from as young as 16 years old and it has worked extremely well. They start off as carers’ assistants. By the time they go off to university, they have learnt a lot and often return to work in their holidays, which is great for us because we have people who know and understand the home able to help provide cover, and enable some of our other staff to have a bit of holiday themselves. Some of the people who have worked here have gone on to become nurses, doctors, pharmacists or run other homes themselves. I like to think that their time here becomes a formative experience in their lives.”

At Greenview the philosophy of personalised care is deeply ingrained. Ian explains: “When people come to live here we don’t just want to look at what they can’t do, we want to look at what they can do. We want people to be active, alert, engaged, and we find that the fitter they are, the more they want to do. We also respect and understand that everyone needs periods of rest – from Olympic sportspeople to children to elderly people. So there is plenty of activity but it is mixed in with the time to rest that people need.”

And active the residents certainly are. The dining table is rapidly turned into a table tennis table with a simple kit, and a game starts. “Table tennis is a great way of reactivating hand-eye co-ordination.” Ian says during a rally. “Our residents love it and we can all enjoy playing a game together. Picking up the ball from the floor is extra exercise too.”

Above the table is a gold glitter ball, available for sound and light stimulation, and in the kitchen are delicious smells of baking, batches of freshly-rolled handmade pastry and cake. Outside is a garden where several hundred bulbs have just been planted, a lawn, vegetable patch and a climbing frame for visiting grandchildren to play on. As well as stimulating so many senses, the garden becomes another source of exercise. Residents that are keen gardeners are encouraged to get involved as much as they want to –  whether digging, tending and watering plants, picking and arranging flowers or just going for a walk and enjoying them.

“Some people think care is easy but it isn’t.” Says Ian. “Often there is a good deal of detective work. We look at a person and have to try and understand; why does this person behave in a certain way? Sometimes you need to dig deep to find out, and it can take time. Care needs huge amounts of patience, and also huge amounts of interacting with people. We had a person live with us once and for the first two years he was unable to speak. But we kept engaging with him, and talking, and playing games, and we got there. When he became able to relax he began to share his stories with us, and then we could learn to understand him even more. The change was huge.”

To all the staff and the residents at Greenview: thank you for sharing your stories, and for inspiring us with your care.