Understanding the Business by Virginia Perkins

Over the past few months it has been a pleasure to explain to the workforce about the Company’s behavioural competencies and what they mean to us as individuals, our colleagues, our visitors and stakeholders but more importantly how they influence our business.



My recent blogs have focussed on team work, customer focus, communication, continuous improvement, achieving positive results and attitude. Finally, I would like to emphasise the importance of understanding our business and the sector that we work in so we know what is expected of us.



As employees of Springhill Care Group we need to understand the business and its aspirations to enable us to contribute to the vision of becoming a service provider and employer of choice in the communities that we serve.


Therefore, we as employees need to know the expectations of the Care Quality Commission and other relevant stakeholders, for example the Safeguarding Authority to understand how their rules and regulations influence our business and care sector in general. Working within the regulators guidelines and framework helps us to ensure that we are compliant to carry out our job roles safely, legally and offering the best care and support to our residents.



We also have to understand the Company’s internal policies, procedures and handbooks which explain the expectations of working in particular functions.


To help employees understand the business more, the Investors in People Steering group will be launching a new model in the New Year which will explain how each employee in their respective job role will contribute to the vision of Springhill Care Group. This is in order for us to understand how we strive to achieving Springhill Care Group’s vision and communicate this to all employees to underpin their knowledge and understanding.



Going forward, each staff meeting, appraisal and supervision meeting will focus on the six areas of the business which include people, customer, company profile, finance, business intelligence and governance. All job roles will understand how they contribute to the business under these relevant aspects. Full training on the new system will be provided to all employees as soon as the format has been agreed by the Board of Directors.



This new model is another great example of how Springhill Care Group is moving forward and competing to be a leader in the healthcare sector.


Understand your business the best.


By Virginia Perkins

Associate Director

People and Organisational Development


My Admiral Nurse Journey - Autumn 2017 (part two)


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 the second part of my blog I take a more in-depth look at dementia training and how it can help both staff and the residents we care for.


Here's a recap of the dual purpose of this months blog:

1. To tell you about the importance of the relationship between the Training Coordinator and the Admiral Nurse in a nursing home setting.

2. To introduce our Training Coordinator, Natalia, who will be writing an occasional blog for you in our Springhill Care Newsletter.  


An excellent dementia training package helps the carers to understand what is expected from them and to expand their understanding of dementia in the wider context.


Natalia, who I introduced in part one of my last blog, as Riversway’s Training Coordinator, sees new carers and auxiliary staff through the induction programme and identifies that most new starters rarely know that there are more than one type of dementia. Also, although she sees some people who are naturally sensitive to people with dementia; she also sees new staff with fixed, stereotypical ideas about people with dementia, the most common being that ‘people with dementia are aggressive.’


Both of us believe that it is essential that we challenge these stigmas and lack of awareness to bring to the carers new understanding and a desire to find out about the benefits of working in the dementia care field.


Natalia’s knowledge of the new staff needs helps us to identify where to focus extra training and where to place them within the home.


NataliaNatalia and I continue to challenge the stereotypical beliefs through raising awareness of inappropriate, old fashioned and demeaning language use to that with a more positive intention. For example, changing ‘challenging behaviour’ to ‘distressed reaction.’ This change helps the focus to move from the resident with dementia being to blame for a behaviour to an understanding that there is an attempt at communication of an unmet need.


I see Natalia, our Training Coordinator, as someone who knows the staff training needs and can let me know where to focus the dementia care training and at what level. She sees me, the Admiral Nurse, as a trainer of the equivalent of Health Education England’s tier 1 and tier 2 dementia care and person-centred care training.


She also sees me as a useful resource in being someone at service manager level to give permission to the carers to take time with our residents and their relatives; to get to know them and their individual ways. Challenging the belief that we must all rush from one task to the next.


Our next project together is the development of a Professional Forum where staff can raise problems with theoretical training which does not always translate on the floor. The recognition of this need has come from the learning curves previously mentioned. There will of course be cake!


By Jakki Whitehead, Admiral Nurse, Riversway Nursing Home 



If you missed part one of my blog please click HERE



My Admiral Nurse Journey - Autumn 2017 (part one)


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….


My latest blog has a dual purpose:


1. To tell you about the importance of the relationship between the Training Coordinator and the Admiral Nurse in a nursing home setting.

2.  To introduce our Training Coordinator, Natalia, who will be writing an occasional blog for you in our Springhill Care Group Newsletter. 


Natalia has been working at Riversway for one year and over that time has really got to grips with the training programme; ensuring that our staff attend both mandatory courses as well as extracurricular training, both of which will improve the lives of our residents and make work more enjoyable for the staff members.  


When I asked her about the link between her role and dementia care she said: “Everything I do is linked to dementia.”


About 75 per cent of the residents at Riversway have dementia and a lot of the skills in good dementia care are the type of excellent care practices which we would want for all of our residents.


For example:

  • Good communication between carers and residents, carers and relatives and with the multi-disciplinary teams
  • Good person-centred care
  • Carers using empathy and compassion to be aware of residents’ thoughts and feelings.


However, Natalia also has to interpret some of the training received in order to make sure that it is relevant for our residents, with or without dementia.


Over the last year Natalia says that she has become aware that most generic training courses, such as moving and handling training, are too broad in their approach for a lot of our residents. This is something with which I have struggled for a number of years, attending courses but knowing that the techniques do not address the problems which are found every day on the floor in a dementia care area.


We agree that, with good communication between ourselves and also with input from staff on the floor, a balance can be found between legal and safe manoeuvres which can meet the individual needs of the residents.



In the nursing dementia environment at Riversway we find that the focus on person-centred and relationship-centred care enables us, as a staff group, to know the residents’ individual needs.


This means that if it has been seen that a carer is not using the best practise identified for that resident a quick word to Natalia or myself can help to direct training where it is needed, hopefully in a timely but sensitive manner for the carer; thus supporting both the resident and paid carer.


Our Assistant Nurse Practitioners and also the Dementia Champions are good at identifying and raising awareness of these needs which helps to flag up training gaps.


This does not always happen smoothly and there have been some steep learning curves over the last year but good, respectful communication amongst staff does help to achieve the desired outcome.



By Jakki Whitehead, Admiral Nurse, Riversway Nursing Home 


Click HERE to read Part two of my blog



Achieving results within the workplace by Virginia Perkins

This month I would like to focus on the importance of achieving positive results through the work conducted in each of our individual roles. 


Springhill Care Group’s vision is to become a service provider and employer of choice in the communities in which it serves, so how do each of us contribute to achieving this ultimate result?


I often get asked during the course of my day how an employee’s role fits into our vision as they require more clarity on how it all works.  My response is to clearly explain that each individual role within the group has a crucial part to play in achieving our vision.  I explain that our behaviour has to portray and promote the company’s positive behavioural competencies that are set out in the Staff Code of Conduct together with each of us taking personal responsibility for high standards and the delivery of excellent work.   I encourage employees to achieve results through persistent and repeated efforts and not to always take the easy option. 


Our positive attitude and approach to our work also helps us to see how we can achieve something, no matter how small or great, which ultimately leads to a positive result for our residents, fellow colleagues or our stakeholders.


The Investors in People steering group is working on an important model to help all employees achieve positive results, which will also provide a stretching element to encourage employees to step outside of their comfort zone to achieve their aspirations.  The model will focus on the six key elements of achieving our vision, for example how we achieve excellence through our people, our residents, our finance, our governance, our company profile and our business intelligence.  Each specific role within the group will have a unique model to work through to achieve really great results, not only for the Springhill Care Group but more importantly themselves, as we continue to invest in our valued workforce. 


The model will measure performance against results via the company’s personal development reviews and supervisions across the Group to help the Company achieve its result through the power of its workforce.    


Once you replace your negative thoughts with positive thoughts and actions, you will start to achieve positive results.



By Virginia Perkins


My Admiral Nurse Journey - 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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