My Admiral Nurse Journey Blog - Summer 2017

Jakki Whitehead, an experienced care professional, is training to become one of dementia care’s ‘beacons of excellence’ – an Admiral Nurse. This blog follows her journey and thoughts….

In July, the Riversway Dementia Champions completed their training and gave presentations to Donna, Managing Director, Christine, Associate Director of Communications & Development, Jan, Riversway Operations Director, Sarah, Riversway Service Manager and Faye from the Dementia Wellbeing Service. 

It has been an enjoyable process with a huge amount of work and dedication from all involved. From the Dementia Champions who have put so much work into the course, to the managers who have given us time to develop the role and the residents and relatives who have worked with us to make the presentations.  The sessions have covered what dementia is and the different types, linking them with residents within the home.


The Alzheimer’s Society Brain Tour was useful to lay out the basics of ‘How the brain works’ and the presentations of four of the main types of dementia: Alzheimer’s, vascular, Lewy body and frontal temporal dementia.


We have looked at the legal influences and also national targets such as early diagnosis and how different people react differently to the need for this.

In my experience, a family member was adamant that he did not want to know any diagnosis let alone an early one yet I know that it can help with appropriate medication and treatment and assist in planning for the future.

Medication was discussed, as were the differences between dementia, delirium and depression, however from this point I thought that it would be useful to start to look at the importance of balancing the medical understanding of dementia with the psychological and social care pathways in order to help us to achieve the balance between clinical need and an enabling environment.


Christine Bryden’s quotes from her book Dancing with Dementia (2005), were used to help promote the voices and feelings of people with dementia to the Dementia Champions.

She said,  ‘I operate in a different way to you, and need a different type of interaction, which is slower and more meaningful. People want to be busy, to talk fast, to ask for responses, but I can’t cope with that.’

 


 

Tom Kitwood’s Enriched Model of Dementia was used to present the holistic understanding of good dementia care:

Dementia = Neurological Impairment + Health + Personality + Biography + Social Environment

 


We related this to a new resident who had been expressing his needs through his behaviour. It was powerful to see the Dementia Champions relating his behaviour now to his past experiences during the war years and recognising how this understanding would make sense to other carers so that they could accept his behaviour and not judge him for it.

Residents’ behaviour was discussed in terms of ‘Distressed Reactions”. The main premise being trying to understand what the person with dementia is trying to communicate through their behaviour when they have a reduced verbal ability to do so. For example, they don’t like the food so they spit it out!


Person centred care was at the centre of the course. Dawn Booker’s VIPS framework was used where:

V         = value of all human lives regardless

               of age or cognitive ability

I           = the individualised approach,

               recognising uniqueness

P          = the perspective of the resident

S          = the provision of a social environment that supports psychological need


As was the importance of relatives and friends in the journey of someone with dementia looking at relationship centred care, so that the needs of relatives and paid carers are also recognised within the dementia pathway.

There was one session, Meaningful Activity, which had to been postponed until later in September, in this we will link life stories with meaningful activity in everyday life. Marilisa, the activity coordinator and Faye from Dementia Wellbeing Service will present a meaningful activity to the Dementia Champions to help get the message across, I believe it includes having lots of fun, which has to be at the baseline of most activities!

Then we came to the presentations. Each one was different: there were photo albums, scrap books, a diary written to a granddaughter, poems, family trees, posters with photos showing a resident’s life with dance. What underlined all of them was the life story of the person with dementia and how that person and their relatives had been important people in their own rights with love stories, interests and passions.

All of the presentations were intelligent, sensitive and emotional and at one point there was not a dry eye in the room underlining the empathy and compassion which had been much in evidence.


We then gave out the certificates and ate a fabulous ‘graduation cake” baked by one of the new Riversway Dementia Champions.


Jakki Whitehead, Admiral Nurse, Riversway Nursing Home 

 

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Attitude in the workplace

With my attendance at various meetings across the Springhill Care Group, I often get asked to explain more about the area of behavioural competencies and what they actually mean to each of us.

 

I reply that a behavioural competency is a specific behaviour that we expect our people to portray in relation to certain areas. We have a standard set of behavioural competencies appended to the Company’s Staff Code of Personal Conduct which explains positive behaviours and negative behaviours.  As we work in a person centred environment, our behaviour is so important and we expect every employee to display positive behaviours in the working environment, in particular due to the nature of caring for others.  You will have seen from my previous blogs that I have focussed on some of our key behavioural competencies, for example, how we expect our employees to work together as part of a team, how we expect our employees to communicate with each other and how we expect our employees to strive for continuous improvement.

 

Today’s blog will be focussing on the behavioural competency of “attitude” and how this is a really important aspect of how we should behave, not only to each other but to the people we support and the wider community.  Our attitude in the working environment is crucial to how others perceive us.  Having a good, positive attitude, along with positive thinking, at work will reflect on what you do and make you a more productive employee. This can determine how well you get your work done and also how others perceive you. If you display a good attitude, you may increase your chances for a promotion or being successful as a champion in a particular area for example, dementia, safeguarding, equality and diversity.  You can be a positive role model for others to look up to within your department at work.

 

I appreciate that employees and managers will have a bad day from time to time but how you choose to display that to others can really affect the balance and harmony of any team.  Your attitude is an expression of yourself, those employees and managers who express a positive and optimistic attitude are more approachable, work well in teams and are better leaders and role models.

 

Those employees who are committed to displaying a positive attitude are more appreciative, enthusiastic, kind and willing to help others which is a crucial aspect of working in the healthcare sector environment. 

 


A bad attitude is like a flat tyre, you can’t go anywhere until you change it.


 

By Virginia Perkins

Associate Director

People and Organisational Development

 

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Creating a culture of Continuous Improvement at Springhill Care

At Springhill Care Group the passion to develop a culture of continuous improvement has really started to gather momentum.  This has particularly been evident through the latest Investors in People (IiP) Steering Group meetings where discussions to improve the business and provide fantastic career opportunities for our valued workforce are very much part of our long term ambition. 

 

It is evident that all of our leaders strive for continuous success and more notably, as a care organisation that does not become complacent, the senior leadership team want to further empower our leaders to build on recent achievements by aiming for the next level as we embark on our journey to lead the care sector. 

 

As identified within the IiP assessment we already outperform the care sector on every measure but we want to build on that success to achieve the Platinum standard by the next assessment.  Furthermore, our leaders are being supported and encouraged to prepare to work and operate within the outstanding arena of the CQC framework. 

 

There is a lot of work to do to achieve our vision of becoming an employer and service provider of choice but nevertheless we continue with our drive to be as successful as we can be.  In order for our workforce to understand how they fit into the bigger picture, the IiP Steering Group is busily working to create a set of stretching competencies for each job role within the organisation.  We had to start by understanding and identifying what excellence looks like for Springhill Care Group, for example putting our customers first and providing a life not just a service; CQC outstanding accreditation for each of our Homes; putting our people first; IiP Platinum for the workforce; financial viability and data integrity. 

 

We now have to start developing our front line leaders, for example our registered nurses, assistant nurse practitioners, senior health care assistants and supervisors across the Group.  The purpose of this area of development is to build their competence in taking ownership, understanding what is possible and supply them with the power to produce the desired effect in managing their staff teams effectively.  With everybody understanding how they contribute to the vision, mission and values of the organisation, Springhill Care Group will continue to improve as a business, as an environment where our residents are provided with a life and how we as a business can grow and become an employer of choice.

 

This is not only an extremely exciting time but also very much rewarding as every valued employee will actually understand how they contribute to achieving excellence across every area within the organisation.  

 


Strive for continuous improvement, instead of perfection. Get a little bit better every day.


 

By Virginia Perkins

Associate Director

People and Organisational Development

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Communication in the workplace

Throughout my career, I have always understood the importance of effective communication in the workplace at all levels, particularly working for a company that operates across a geographically dispersed area. 

Being able to communicate effectively is the most important of all life skills and we should embrace the impact of positive communication at all times.

Basically, communication is simply the act of transferring information from one place to another and that’s why the vision, mission and values of Springhill Care Group are communicated by the Board of Directors to every employee throughout the company, to ensure the workforce understands the aspirations of the company.  Without this communication the workforce would not be aware of the direction to head in and ultimately unable to achieve the vision of becoming a service provider and employer of choice. 

Springhill is proud to have a set of behavioural competencies which emphasises the importance of communication, and guides employees to adapt style and content to suit the situation and audience, showing good awareness of how others may respond. 

At Springhill we always encourage open and honest communication with others and to be ultimately professional in all dealings.  We encourage each employee to communicate effectively with the residents in our care, relatives, managers, colleagues and key stakeholders. 

Good communication often starts with being a good listener and is one of the best ways to be a good communicator.  Active listening involves paying attention to what the other person is saying and this is so important when responding not only to our residents’ needs but also to each other across the company.

Those employees who frequently attend meetings or indeed are an ambassador for Springhill Care in the wider arena, whether it be supporting a resident at a hospital appointment, a relatives’ meetings or in attendance at internal and external meetings, should be displaying positive body language.  This is particularly important for those employees responsible for leading others. 

Employees should convey a friendly tone to appear approachable, retain eye contact and a calm tone to encourage others to speak only with you.  Through a friendly tone, a personal question, or simply a smile, will encourage fellow employees to engage in open and honest communication with you. It's important to be polite and respectful in all your workplace communications.  This is important in both face-to-face and written communication. When you can personalise your emails to employees, a quick "I hope you all had a good weekend" at the start of an email can personalise a message and make the recipient feel more appreciated.

Displaying empathy even when you disagree with a colleague is important as it shows that you understand and respect their point of view.   It also demonstrates that you have been listening to the other person and respect their opinions.

By displaying positive communication at all levels that is underpinned by our core values we can make Springhill Care a better place to work.

 


  “Communication works for those who work at it.”


 

By Virginia Perkins, Head of Human Resources

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Six months into my Admiral Nurse journey - Latest Blog by Jakki Whitehead

I have now been in post as an Admiral Nurse at Riversway for just over six months.  Last October I had my induction where we looked at the aims of Admiral Nursing:

 

*Improving relatives’ wellbeing through adjustment to diagnosis and coping with a caring role

*Improving the wellbeing and quality of life of the person with dementia

*Enhancing colleagues’ knowledge and experience of working with relatives and people with dementia

*Theoretical underpinnings.

I also identified five areas within my job role: complex care needs; promotion of mental health needs; management; training and meaningful activity. The last  two I knew would be enhanced considerably by the new training and activity coordinators, Natalia and Marilisa.

In order to ensure that my ideas for developing the service were in line with what was required by the directors, staff, residents and families at Riversway, Laura, the Research and Evaluation Officer from Dementia UK, asked me to do a questionnaire to identify key areas and priorities for these stakeholder groups. What was interesting as a result was that we identified that relatives and residents were prioritising quality outcomes whereas the staff were asking for the tools to provide the outcomes.

 

The initial plan following this was to:

*Do baseline audits within the home for dementia care

*Develop a Dementia Champion programme in order to train 10 Dementia Champions within Riversway

*Improvement in the use of life stories and promoting the use of the This Is Me document

*Group work with residents and relatives

*Continue with training dementia care to all staff

*Continue working with supporting residents with complex care needs and their relatives

Over the last six months a lot of work has gone into place. We have looked at the Social Care and the NHS Outcomes and the CQC Frameworks to ensure that what was being planned fitted in with recognised good practice.  Presentation power points have been written, initial audits have been completed and Marilisa, Natalia and I have discussed training and meaningful activity needs within the home.

 


So where are we 6 months on?

The Dementia Champions course has now had its fourth meeting. 

The first was at a ‘virtual dementia tour’. Jan, my manager, agreed for all of our champions to attend this course where participants use clothing and items, such as gloves and dark glasses, to help them experience what it might be like to have dementia and some accompanying sensory impairment.

 


All of us agreed that the experience was very powerful and immediately helped us to relate to some of the residents within the home. Natalia has booked the tour specifically for Riversway in the near future so that 24 more of Riversway staff can put themselves in the shoes of those with dementia.


 

The other sessions so far have looked at statistics regarding dementia; practical information involving the different types of dementia and the required role of the Dementia Champions as:

*Leaders in dementia care within the home

*Role modelling established and proven good practice

*Carers who are in touch with their own feelings of compassion and empathy

*Carers who understand the importance of good dementia care for residents and relatives within the home

*Carers who are prepared to take time to look for messages behind certain behaviours. 

The carers involved have been chosen for their abilities to relate and communicate well and have shown a great interest and involvement in the work so far. Two projects to enhance the experience, will be rolling out Dementia Friends across the home and also using This Is Me as a way to develop life story work.


 

Finally today Riversway held the first Forget Me Not cafe run by Marilisa and I where relatives and residents are invited to come to share cake and coffee whilst chatting with staff about residents’ life histories. This helps the staff to get to know the residents well in order to help meet their needs and maintain their identity.

 

The other benefit of the cafe is to allow relatives to meet with volunteers and staff who understand the difficulties of walking with dementia, giving support as needed. One relative commented that he had been helped a lot within five minutes of arriving.

 

The cafe today was very successful and I’d like to thank everyone who participated in any way: the residents and relatives who came to join and support us at the first event; Alan, our volunteer, who shares his experiences so generously; the staff who made it happen and of course Simon and his catering team who provided such great cakes! 


Our next Forget Me Not cafe is on Tuesday 20th June at 10.30.


 

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