My Admiral Nurse Journey - Dementia Champion Presentations

At Birch Green, Gill, Sharon, Emma and Sian recently attended four days of level 2 Dementia Care training, two in January and two in March 2018.


We have also completed a VIPS audit (Brooker) and looked at This is Me (RCN and Alz. Soc) in depth. They have worked hard as the training has been quite intense.


The role of the Dementia Champion is to: ‘Reflect and question; to refuse to accept that the person’s dementia is inevitably the reason for every difficulty that they experience.’  (B. Loveday, 2013). 


Day 1. Was all about numbers and statistics - the amount of people diagnosed and the present costs, estimated at:

£26.3 billion – NHS- £4.3 bill, Social care- £10.3 bill, families- £11.6 bill. Informal carers save £119 bill/year. This is without ethnic minority numbers being included.


The different types of dementia were discussed and how they present (Alz. Soc website Dementia Brain Tour). This training is based on the bio-psycho-social model so we looked at the importance of a proper diagnosis and the reasons for ruling out any physical problems. Such as determining the difference between delirium, dementia and depression. The place of pain and medications. Then looked at current legislation: Care Act, MCA, DoLs, National Dementia Strategy and the Prime Ministers Challenge.


Good News was discussed:

  • Coffee in older women can have benefits
  • Brain training can halve the risk
  • Learning something new: a language, instrument or a sport
  • Nutrition and good health maintenance are key in prevention


Day 2. We looked at acknowledging complex care within dementia care and useful strategies.


The importance of Carers’ input and the roles of such groups as Dementia Action Alliance ‘Nothing About Us Without Us.’ and Tide.


Of course, Christine Bryden had a mention:


‘How you relate to us has a big impact on the course of the disease. You can restore our personhood, and give us a sense of being needed and valued. There is a Zulu saying that is very true. “A person is a person through others.” Give us reassurance, hugs, support, a meaning in life. Value us for what we can still do and be, and make sure we retain social networks. It is very hard for us to be who we once were, so let us be who we are now and realise the effort we are making to function.’


We started to develop the psycho social element more  according to Tom Kitwood and the Enriched Model of Dementia where Dementia= Neurological Impairment+ Health+ Personality+ Biography+ Social Environment.  We have used this throughout the course for case discussions.  


The next session, Day 3 was all about communication and Kitwood’s 5 great needs of Inclusion, Comfort, Occupation, Identity and Attachment. How these relate to good care and poor care and how to recognise it. This obviously then moves us on to the ‘Distressed Reaction.’ The more appropriate term for the old ‘challenging behaviour.’


What is the person is trying to communicate through their behaviour? 

Why might people with dementia act in a way that shows distressed behaviours?


To Lie or Not to Lie was a heading of one discussion, this ties in with the recent Mental Health Foundation paper ‘What is Truth?’


Good communication skills were highlighted as being of vital importance to providing good dementia care for residents and their families as well as recognition of good communication strategies in the end of life stages of dementia care.


We recognised the importance of staff and family as well as residents in person-centred and relationship-centred care. We looked at Brooker’s VIPS framework and Nolan’s Senses framework of security, continuity, belonging, purpose, achievement and significance being equally important to people with dementia, relatives and paid carers. We spent time looking at ways to support couples including sexuality and intimacy needs.


Day 4. Was all about Meaningful Activity. Together with life history and the importance of maintaining physical activity.


The importance of life history was illustrated in the presentations which followed and was linked with the This Is Me. We spoke of Meaningful Activity and then Gill facilitated a session reading emotive dementia poetry and exploring the importance of smells in reminiscence work.


As you can see this has been an intense training programme. Emma, Sharon, Gill and Sian have been very involved; never flagging and working hard. Doing even more homework than given! They obviously know and already work in a person-centred fashion. The theoretical framework now given should help to support this. Their job is to cascade the learning throughout the service through modelling and, of course, good communication.


After this we had four excellent presentations of resident and their relatives’ life stories and we'd like to thank Donna, Christine, Virginia, Vicky and Bernadette for coming to the project presentation.


There were some exceptionally emotional accounts which showed just how much empathy and compassion there is in the care at Birch Green.


I then presented certificates to four very deserving new Springhill Dementia Champions.


By Jakki Whitehead, Admiral Nurse, Riversway Nursing Home 



Values Based Recruitment by Virginia Perkins

Springhill Care Group prides itself on its vision to be a service provider and employer of choice in the communities in which it serves.


Our vision and mission is underpinned by a core set of values which shape the culture and reflect what we as a company values. These core values are the essence of the company’s identity and help us in our decision-making processes throughout all of our interactions. That’s why it is so important, even more so in the care sector, to ensure that our future talent is appointed using the principles of values based recruitment. This is to ensure that we attract and recruit the best people on the basis that their individual values and behaviours align with the values of Springhill Care Group.


Our website and literature has been designed to illustrate and reflect how strongly we feel as a company about our core values to ensure that we attract the right kind of individual to support and care for our valued residents, so that they enjoy the best quality of care that they can do.


We champion our values throughout all of our communication, behavioural competencies and decision making to ensure that we act in the best interests of our residents’ needs and the company as a whole to achieve our vision.


Part of my role is to ensure that we have a highly engaged, viable and sustainable workforce for the future, which will continue to set us a leader in the health care sector. That is why it is so important to ensure that our existing people and future talent understand and share the same core values as our company. Our recruitment processes have been specifically designed around this approach for example, pre-screening assessments and values based interviewing techniques.


We recognise that recruitment is just one part of the employment journey but we aim to embed values in all areas of employment practice from training to appraisals through to organisational development. In turn this will help to boost morale, create a more positive working environment and increase job satisfaction.



Our values are kindness, trust, integrity, trust, dignity, respect and compassion

By Virginia Perkins

Associate Director

People and Organisational Development


My Admiral Nurse Journey - March 2018

‘Often it's not what you say but how you make someone feel that makes the difference.’


These words were recently chosen by Dementia UK to print on the Admiral Nurse bookmark in order to ‘encapsulate Admiral Nursing and the wider idea of giving.’


They fit in beautifully with the Dementia Friends video called the “Bookcase Analogy,” (Alzheimer’s Society Bookcase Analogy on You Tube) where the relationship in the brain between the hippocampus (where memories are formed) and the amygdala (where feelings are stored) is explained and how although the person living with dementia may not remember that they went on a visit to the seaside that afternoon with people who are dear to them they will still have the feelings that they have had a lovely time.


A while ago I worked with a resident who went on a trip to the Christmas German market. She had a great time, indulging in pretzels and beer (as shown to me in photos); on her return she told me that she had sat in her bedroom all afternoon but her eyes were shining; she chatted rather than being quiet and she slept remarkably well that night. I knew that she still felt the joy from sharing the food and drink in good company and in happy surroundings that afternoon.


It is well known that only 7% of communication is conveyed through words (verbal); paraverbal communication such as the tone and other vocal elements is 38%; the major part is non verbal communication (facial expressions and gestures) at 55%.


This explains why even though a lot of our residents with dementia do have problems with word finding or understanding language a huge amount of communication still does take place through having been familiar with someone for a length of time. The tone of voice maybe recognisable; appropriate touch, as in holding a hand brings comfort; smiles and laughing with someone or just sitting with someone in peace and quiet, sharing the moment.


A heartwarming video clip demonstrating excellent communication with a person living with  a progressed dementia is Gladys Wilson and Naomi Feil (You Tube).


Family members often worry that their loved one won’t remember them as the dementia progresses. More often than not I see that, providing the relative has been a familiar figure in their lives, the resident may not be able to identify their face or remember their name but they will remember the voice, the perfume or the way someone makes them feel: loved, happy or safe.


Relatives regularly perform the important function of making a resident feel so safe that they will sleep through every visit! This is really quite a compliment and may make the difference between someone having a good sleep period or not.


Other relatives will happily be on hand to be called by nurses when disturbing hallucinations upset a resident to the point where they are not able to trust the nurses or carers anymore. The arrival of the relative and the safety which they allow the resident brings such relief. 


Staff are always grateful to relatives for bringing this security to our residents. Security brought about by many years of building those trusting relationships which as staff we will never be able to give to the same degree. 


By Jakki Whitehead, Admiral Nurse, Riversway Nursing Home 




As a Leader - Practice What You Preach by Virginia Perkins

Springhill Care Group is now firmly on its journey to achieving its ambition of becoming an outstanding provider of care but also an employer of choice.


I often get asked through various forums, internal and external, about what makes an outstanding organisation. My response to this is quite simple, it has to start from the top. Our leaders have to practice what they preach which ultimately cascades throughout the various designations within the organisation.


To create this culture, our leaders have to ensure that every interaction is underpinned by the values of the organisation, the behavioural competencies and the utilisation of excellent people skills. Being a leader is certainly not an easy job. As a leader, you have to deal with high levels of responsibility and pressure. Your employees expect you to motivate, inspire and guide them together with treating them fairly and consistently.


In order for the workforce to be provided with the direction and focus that it needs we require our leaders to promote these qualities throughout. I often say “please treat your valued colleagues the way that you would like to be treated”.


Creating this type of culture starts at the top. As leaders, we want to set the precedence for how you would like your employees to perform their respective job roles and to establish feeling that excite and unite. We encourage our leaders to listen to their employees and observe their workplace behaviours and activities. We expect our leaders not to just follow the relevant policies and procedures but to lead the way and take care of their staff team by treating them with respect.


Doing this will increase employee confidence, motivation, trust and loyalty to ensure that our workforce continues to grow to achieve the vision of Springhill Care Group.



Your beliefs don’t make you a better person, your behaviour does.


By Virginia Perkins

Associate Director

People and Organisational Development



Leading and Inspiring People by Virginia Perkins

Following the recent attendance at the prestigious Investors in People event in London where Springhill Care Group was named as a leader in people management practice globally, having been ranked in sixth position at the annual ceremony. As an organisation we know that we are firmly on our journey to achieving Platinum with our continuous leadership and management development. 


With the knowledge and skills inherent within our existing leadership team we are certain to continue achieving greater results by developing the workforce through effective people management and engagement.

We are continuously improving our leadership behaviours and competencies because we understand that people are fundamental to our business as they are unique, worthy of care, understanding and invested in. People deserve to be treated fairly and have a meaningful voice on matters that affect them.


In order to ensure that our leaders inspire the workforce in line with the Investors in People framework we expect the group’s leaders to be active role models, leading by example and trusted by people in the organisation. We also encourage our leaders to motivate and inspire people to achieve results above and beyond what is expected of them. Future leadership capabilities are defined in line with the organisation’s values and leaders meet these challenges.


Together with the new performance competency framework and further investment in frontline leadership development we are sure to keep inspiring and motivating our workforce to deliver against the strategic objectives of the organisation to ensure that we achieve our vision of becoming a service provider and employer of choice.


Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better.



By Virginia Perkins

Associate Director

People and Organisational Development


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