Bristol Memory Cafe Celebration - Blog by Jakki Whitehead, Admiral Nurse

Towards the end of last year Tony Hall of The Bristol Dementia Action Alliance (BDAA) invited Marilisa and I to the Bristol Memory Cafe Celebration to give a presentation about Riversway’s Forget Me Not Cafe along with seven other Memory Cafe coordinators in Bristol including;

*Happy Days Memory Cafe run by Tony of the BDAA

*Alive run by Isobel Jones

*The Holy Trinity Cafe run by Liz Leaman

*Bristol Royal Infirmary and Alzheimer’s Society’s memory cafes were also represented.

It was interesting to hear the variety of approaches used in the different settings but what was really evident was the enthusiasm of all those involved and the passion for improving the lives of those with dementia and their carers.

This presentation coincided with Laura, a Research and Evaluation Officer at Dementia UK, producing a poster about an Admiral Nurse and The Forget Me Not Cafe at Riversway.

Marilisa and I started by introducing ourselves and Riversway Nursing Home; we explained that times had changed and that residents who had been with us for 10-15 years had passed on.


We recognised that we needed a new forum to get to know the new residents and their relatives as quickly as possible and decided to use the recognised form 'This is Me' as well as a memory cafe as a basis to develop our knowledge of the residents.


The main aims of the Forget Me Not  Cafe were to;

  • Help residents, relatives and staff to develop relationships and to get to know some of their life story in a relatively short period of time. The ‘This is Me’ maybe filled in with resident and relatives.
  • Facilitate access for residents and relatives to expert support from an Admiral Nurse.
  • Create an avenue for families to discuss shared challenges.  One relative commented that he had more support at the cafe in 5 minutes than he had received in 3 months in a hospital. 
  • Facilitate an inclusive environment in the home between residents with cognitive impairment and those without.  A resident who had a stroke and very little cognitive impairment found that she felt much more useful when she was able to help residents who had more of a communication problem than she did. 

We spoke about the main rule which was that once a month the kitchen provides us with really scrumptious cakes!

A choice from Victoria Sponge, Carrot, Coffee and Walnut, Lemon Drizzle, Blueberry, Chocolate, Red Velvet, Danish Pastries, fruit cakes and a variety of biscuits..... Catering for most diets; normal, gluten free, low sugar, vegan.

We encourage all residents, relatives, friends, staff and relatives of people who have passed on, to attend.


So why cake?

  • To promote an inclusive, happy and enjoyable atmosphere within the home.
  • To promote the importance of decision making amongst all residents - which cake? Most of our residents still retain the ability to choose which cake, even in advanced dementia.
  • To provide textures and flavours for sensory stimulation and reminiscence. It is a joy to see a resident who have been very ill and have a very complicated eating regime brightening with delight when they have cake and gingerbread men: ‘those gingerbread men brought back memories of my childhood’.
  • Promotes involvement of all different parts of the staff team and they are starting to own the process, meaning that they feel involved and thus involve residents and relatives, staff come to join in for a while and take cake back to residents in their rooms.

This leads to reminiscence, activities, sensory stimulation; Life stories being shared and recorded; residents, families, friends and staff getting to know each other in a relaxed environment; relationships being built throughout the home, with residents, relatives and staff; improved wellbeing with residents and relatives feeling supported by staff who have a good level of experience. One resident really responded to me giving him cake, he started to realise that I did care for him and that things could improve in some ways; this was a time when everything in his life seemed dark.


What Happens?  

We can have visiting numbers from 15-32 (a squeeze!), Residents are the main attenders, the average number of relatives attending is about 7 but sometimes more.

We often just chat but also run activities such as singing, poetry reading or choosing pictures for decorating the home.

We might put all sorts of tactile items on the tables, we have a volunteer who brings Twiddle Muffs, Twiddle Aprons and crocheted mats from her craft group, they are always popular we put out other reminiscence stuff as well.

Comments from the relatives about the cafe are generally positive. A relative in a Focus Group commented that ‘The families find confidence in the fact that the Admiral Nurse holds the cafes…so she is available to them and they have confidence in her and talk about the conditions.’ Another helper commented that he had ‘never seen so much cake be eaten by so many people in so little time and then for them to go on and eat their lunch too!’



Finally, it is great to see so many people getting so much out of the Forget Me Not Cafe but it is also safe to say that Marilisa and I enjoy it too.




Hello 2019 - Latest blog by Virginia Perkins

As we welcome 2019, many of us are in the frame of mind to start the new year with a new project or initiative to improve or add further value, and we are no different within our company.

The year of 2018 was a busy year consolidating our working practices and drawing on our experiences of projects so that learning can be reinforced. It has been a huge team effort working immensely hard to recruit a virtually full staff team so that our residents can enjoy and receive the best care, and deservedly so. The company’s fantastic performance and success is testament to the skills and dedication of the workforce, and as we move into the new year, it is important that we focus on retaining our valued employees to continue building on the success already experienced.

One of the government’s main priorities for the health and social care system is quite understandably the workforce because without a dedicated and motivated staff team we simply wouldn’t be able to operate. Only when we sustain a viable and engaged workforce can we truly achieve our full potential. That’s why staff retention will continue to be a focus for the Springhill Care Group as we embark on the exciting year of 2019.

Our retention strategies are crucial because they help to create a positive work environment and strengthen our employees commitment across all disciplines in the company. We continue to develop our leaders; roll out coaching sessions focussed on our unique high performing culture; conduct regular meetings with new starters; develop our frontline leaders; offer fantastic career pathways; promote staff into key appointments and strengthen our communication channels across the workforce to promote a continuous dialogue.

We look forward to developing and retaining our workforce on the existing foundations we have created, to ensure we continue on our trajectory to being recognised as a leader in the care sector.


by Virginia Perkins 

Associate Director of People and Organisational Development 



Welcome to 2019 - New blog by Mike Lakins

With the Christmas holiday season over for another year, my thoughts focus around up and coming events for 2019 at the Springhill Care Group.

There are lots of exciting training opportunities scheduled to take place this year, in addition to the mandatory training conducted annually.

Learning and Development coordinators are always busy identifying new courses and carefully considering the methods used to train those courses, to ensure that as a function, we offer the very latest training opportunities delivered in the most appropriate way, to our workforce. 

We welcome your suggestions and we are happy to discuss any future training opportunities with you.

Developing new methods for the delivery of training is also essential; to seek out and encourage the potential in everyone - new innovative ways of working are crucial.

Later this month we will be piloting the Virtual Training Room (VTR) which aims to deliver training from a central point and cascade it to a number of trainees via video link. I am looking forward to accessing the VTR and providing an update.

E-learning is another concept for the delivery of training and whilst not my preferred method of training style, I think ‘blended learning,’ a mixture of both e-learning and face to face, is probably a good compromise. I think it gives the participant chance to answer questions on their own and then explore their own understanding with the trainer.

2019 will see the introduction of the Nurse Apprenticeship at University of Central Lancashire and this is an exciting prospect. I am looking forward to building on our current collaboration with UCLan and developing our own business further by putting our people and their individual needs first.

Work continues on our academy and this is also due to be rolled out in the first quarter of next year. The planning and development stages are always the longest parts of any new venture.

In all, it’s a year of new opportunities, putting our people and their individual needs first, developing NS building upon, an already resilient workforce and creating a learning environment that will be unrivalled in this sector.


by Mike Lakins

Head of Learning and Development




Variety is the spice of training

In previous blogs I have discussed the importance of mandatory training underpinning daily practice; this month I would like to have a look at the other courses that we offer across the Group.

Positive holding has been a successful course that we have offered for a number of months now; it equips staff with the relevant skills to support some of our residents – this course is popular and the feedback received is good.

Our Admiral Nurse, Jakki Whitehead from Riversway, Bristol is also supporting us in developing staff by providing a deeper understanding of dementia. This has been rolled out in Riversway and Birch Green already and Springhill has a number of staff who following training with Jakki will be dedicated Dementia Champions. 

Medication training is ongoing across at three sites for all our medication administrators, we are working hard to consolidate the policies and procedures.

We have seen a lot of clinical training rolled out across the Group recently from venepuncture to catheter care to sepsis awareness to wound management – it is vital that our nurses remain skilled and employ up to date techniques; we recognise the need for ongoing clinical training and are keen to source the very best quality training available.

Oomph is a great initiative that is sweeping the 3 sites and this is proving to be very successful. It’s an activity based approach which is person centred and involves not only the activity team but the wider staff team too – the staff are fully engaged and ‘on-board’ recognising the value this brings to the organisation and more importantly the residents we are supporting.

As a learning and development function, the coordinators and I are passionate to bring new training opportunities to the organisation. Mandatory and clinical training must always take priority but we are always happy to discuss all aspects of training, funding dependent. We recognise the importance of supporting staff to achieve their aspirations and we continue to seek out and encourage the potential in everyone through appropriate learning channels. 




by Mike Lakins

Head of Learning and Development 



The Springhill Care Admiral Nurse Service Evaluation Report - Blog (Part two) by Jakki Whitehead

The Details


In this second blog about the Admiral Nurse Service Evaluation Report I will look more closely at the details such as demographics within my caseload from Jan 2017 - April 2018.

34 residents and 55 relatives were on my caseload during this time.


Residents were mainly women: 20 women and 14 men                                                      

Age range: was mainly 85-94                                                                                                      

Ethnicity: was mainly White British (33) Black British (1) 

31 residents had their family involved.

Family members were mainly female: 34 females and 21 males, with sons and daughters being the major type of relatives with whom I worked.                                   

Families needed support for: adjusting and understanding the relative's dementia and/or changes in their behaviour; End of Life support; understanding the continuing health care funding system etc.


Diagnosis: Vascular dementia and non-specific dementia were the most common diagnosis and all 34 residents had other medical conditions present (co-morbidities) as well as other existing factors such as mobility issues; reduced ability to communicate or delirium.                                                   


The top three reasons for the involvement of an Admiral Nurse were:

  • Distressed reaction - referring to a range of behaviour that may be complex for the carers to address including aggressive behaviour; refusal of personal care; reduced social inhibitions
  • Mental health needs
  • Co-morbidities - such as cardiovascular problems, neurodegenerative diseases or diabetes

All of the residents on my caseload had been diagnosed with co-morbidities and also a number of additional co-existing factors, the full statistics are available in the report (below). It is the presence of both of these which are known to increase complexity in the clinical presentation of a person with dementia.


Care Fit For VIPS Audit (see previous blog)

3 audits have been completed during this time. The baseline audit (done in April 2017) showed that the home was already largely providing good care although there were areas that required improvement to bring the practice to a higher level. The latest review (April 2018) shows how the practice has shifted in the home with more statements with which we strongly agreed and less statements with which we disagreed. An action plan has been drawn up on the basis of the last review to support continuous improvement.

It has been hard work collecting all of the data and producing this report but it has been an enjoyable 18 months working as an Admiral Nurse at Riversway Nursing Home and I think the report illustrates the fruits of our labours very well


by Jakki Whitehead, Admiral Nurse


The Springhill Care Admiral Nurse Service Evaluation report 




















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