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.



Team work at Springhill Care Group by Virginia Perkins

We hear all the time that good team work is essential to achieving shared success when we are working towards that same goal.  When you feel like you’re a valued team member, you’re more likely to do the best work you can.  It is no different at Springhill Care Group and working together within the healthcare sector is even more important, in the current climate, to foster good team relations to help, support and improve the service we provide to the vulnerable people in our care.


Teamwork in healthcare requires constant communication, regardless of our respective roles, so that we can ultimately be a part of and contribute to the business to ensure we achieve our vision of being the best service provider and employer of choice in the communities we serve.


By working together we can become more efficient, particularly if there is a problem faced along the way, there are more people to help solve the issue.  At Springhill Care you will have noticed that we frequently set up specific project teams to address challenges within the working environment or to identify and improve ways of working, for example the Employee Voice and Rota Management Group.  We do this as it allows us to get the work done faster with shared responsibilities.  From a management perspective, encouraging teamwork at Springhill Care allows us to take on additional work and in turn generate new ideas that contribute to achieving our vision and mission.  Great teamwork fosters improved communication and creates a better working environment.


We constantly promote positive teamwork through the Company’s Staff Code of Conduct by expecting our workforce to show commitment and participate fully in achieving team initiatives and goals.  We encourage individuals to make an effort to ensure relations within the team are positive and there is a good team atmosphere but also to understand others roles and how they impact upon each other.


Alone we can do so little.

Together we can do so much!


 By Virginia Perkins, Head of Human Resources


Implications of Brexit on our Workforce by Virginia Perkins

Almost 12 months ago, in June 2016 we saw the UK voting to leave the European Union in an unprecedented referendum, so what are the implications for the Springhill Group’s workforce. 


After attending several employment law updates over the past several months, the real consequences of the vote are still very much unclear.  Now the country gears up to vote in a snap general election scheduled to take place on 8th June 2017 due to claims that divisions within the Houses of Parliament are at risk of hampering the Brexit negotiations. 


So what does this all mean for our valued workforce, particularly bearing in mind that we have a significant number of European employees working across the Springhill Care Group.  The good news is that there are strong indications that, after the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 that the government will grant a form of permanent residence to those who have resided in the UK for at least five years as a qualified person, i.e. as a worker, self-employed, self-sufficient, student or jobseeker before a cut-off date is determined.  This could be when we eventually leave the EU but it could be sooner.  It is hoped that European employees who have been living in the UK before the cut-off date but have not yet completed five years as a qualified person will be given temporary permission to stay in the UK after Brexit and given the chance to complete the five-year period. 


To ease employees’ concerns across the Springhill Care Group and help us plan for the future, we will be conducting an audit of our European employees and inviting them to communicate with us about any concerns they may have or questions to pose.  As an employer we can also offer access to credible Home Office immigration advice, so do please contact the Human Resources department for further information if you wish to discuss this area further. 


We value our diverse workforce and because at Springhill Care we have a diverse range of employees, we are well placed to understand the needs of a wide range of customers, and it also puts us in a good position to recruit and retain staff in an increasingly diverse and competitive labour market.



We will endeavour to keep you updated as soon as we hear more news about Brexit but in the meantime please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any concerns or comments.



By Virginia Perkins

Head of Human Resources 


Twiddle muffs and activity aprons - by Jakki Whitehead

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.

Almost two years ago a friend sent me a picture of a Twiddle Muff and pattern asking for knitters to make colourful knitted muffs with trimmings of beads, ribbons, pompoms and zips on the inside and outside.


Pictures of fidget aprons were also sent through with worry beads, appliqué, pockets and velcro attached. These were to be given to residents in the later stages of dementia to assist them to touch items which may be familiar or give comfort. This kind of sensory input can provide a reassurance and help our residents to feel more safe.

I worked hard trying to find willing knitters and sewers to make these   items for residents with dementia in Riversway. Initially one of the activity team and a GP student made Activity Blankets which had been made with the resident's life history involved.

One blanket had a hand sewn atlas which showed the resident's globetrotting past, she also had stuffed birds put in a pocket to give a reminder of her love of birdwatching.

Unfortunately although beautiful and well thought out they were few and far between for our residents.

Last January one of our relative visitors, Margaret and her friend Bonny, asked if her church's craft group could do anything for the residents.

Soon after another group offered some knitted gifts too.

A veritable production line of Twiddle Muffs and Activity Aprons appeared with all sorts of bright colours, textures, interesting additions such as cotton reels, pom-poms and zips. As there were so many I was able to lay them around our lounges in an organised but rumpled fashion. By their very colourful nature they did exactly what they were supposed to do by encouraging residents to pick them up and experiment.

Many of our residents were housewives and the aprons, laid on the chair backs, were immediately picked up and put on. (I found six in one residents' room, a definite favourite!) For Laura it is one of the first things she does each day.

I have seen the Twiddle Muffs used as muffs but also as hats, arm and leg warmers and also rather surprisingly as slippers. These vanish into people's rooms and one big fan seems to have her own collection. Margaret has also made Twiddle blankets and apart from the two which I have kept for our office chairs they are used with residents who are unable to get up and need items to be taken to them. As well as for the more immobile residents, those at a certain stage of dementia need the sensory stimulation to be brought to them, they are no longer able to access it for themselves. The Twiddle Blankets, bright, reassuring and accessible give a comfort and maybe a purpose to those residents in need.

Another good deed that the group did for us was knitting with one of our residents.


Michelle was a quiet resident who enjoyed knitting and being left to herself. I had asked her on occasion if she would mind us using her knitting for decorative purposes but she always refused until one day she surprised me by saying that she had changed her mind and I could use it.

Michelle died soon after but her family let us keep the knitting and Margaret and Bonny sewed it together into long decorative strips which we hang around the patio to give colour on warm spring days. A lovely reminder of Michelle.



All at Riversway would like to thank those who support the residents with their lovely, colourful gifts, they are very much appreciated. 



Management and Leadership Behaviours by Virginia Perkins

Part of the Human Resources role is to uphold the core values and behavioural competencies of Springhill Care Group, with this in mind I intend to focus more on leadership and management behaviours across the group over the forthcoming months.


Positive behaviours which underpin Springhill’s core values, need to be embraced and displayed by those leaders responsible for developing, training, motivating, setting standards and structuring work of the workforce.


The behaviours of our trusted leaders are of crucial importance to ensure the smooth running of the service they provide but also in building and retaining a highly engaged staff team. 


From my experience, leaders who truly identify with their employees as people, communicate effectively and pay them the attention they need to feel appreciated often have a big hand in empowering and engaging them. Similarly, good people leaders understand how important it is to acknowledge individual work and effort, address their staff team by their names and that a sincere ‘thank you’ can go a long way into making an employee feel appreciated. 


Springhill’s culture is shaped by the day-to-day behaviours of our leaders.  Employees value leaders that consistently practice what they preach but often the values which are advocated by leaders and managers are not the ones which people see around them. It is those values which actually create the culture.


By our leaders and managers not ‘walking the talk’ they can unintentionally create a culture the organisation would actually want to avoid.   Therefore, it is important for our leaders at the top of our organisation to embrace the values and behavioural competencies designed for the Springhill Care Group so that our workforce can enjoy working in a better working environment. 


By our leaders living and breathing Springhill’s core values of kindness, compassion, integrity, trust, dignity, respect together with our behavioural competencies contained within the Staff Code of Personal Conduct we will continue to be an employer of choice in the communities we serve.


By Virginia Perkins

Head of Human Resources




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