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




Observations of an Admiral Nurse - by Jakki Whitehead

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 from day one.

February 2017 -Effects of change

Just recently I have had occasion to be aware of the effects of change within my own life: change of hours, change of job role and what impact this has had on my home life.

It hasn’t been comfortable, and few big changes are. Yet I frequently see residents with dementia who have left their family and home to be admitted into hospital, then moved to a residential home and then to us at Riversway Nursing Home, without ever returning to their own home. All within a relatively short time.

Those residents have had to cope with three changes of abode in addition to other changes, such as;

  • Absence of family and recognised supports;
  • Changes in physical health or mental health such as confusional states resulting from infections;
  • Changes in medication and a complete change of their known routine.

All of this at a time when the fact that they have dementia makes it more difficult to understand and adjust to what is happening to them.

My manager Jan and I, often tell relatives that it can take three months for us to start to know the resident, their likes and dislikes and for them to get to know us and which carers they like to work with.

Within that time we try to find out about the resident from themselves and from their family. About their past life history, relationships that are important to them and coping techniques that the resident and their relatives have used.

These often highlight recent changes in the routine of the resident, for example a changed night and day sleep pattern is quite common. One of our residents had a very steady 72 hour pattern of sleeping and then 72 hours of waking, she could even enjoy her meals whilst in that sleepy state!

What is important, is to understand that any change, such as those above or maybe a well-loved carer leaving the home, can have massive effects on our residents, sometimes manifesting in changes of behaviour.

It is up to us, as carers, to work out what that behaviour is trying to tell us; this takes time and understanding of the resident to work out how to help them to feel safe, cared for and familiar with their new environment and circumstances and also to support the family through these times.

This doesn’t mean that all change is bad, managed change can be useful and life enhancing. Small changes can mean the world.

Our new activity coordinator Marilisa, was trying different activities with a resident who has been paralysed from the neck down for 20 years. She brought in a tube of bubbles and asked the resident to blow. A stream of bubbles flew across the room followed by tremendous laughter from the resident and Marilisa.

As we reflected later upon the activity we realised what a sense of ability that she must have had. That small change in Marilisa’s thinking had allowed the resident’s actions to have an effect on something, maybe for one of the very few times in 20 years.

Blog by Jakki Whitehead

Admiral Nurse, Riversway Nursing Home.


Click HERE to read my 1st blog (May 2016) - My Journey to become an Admiral Nurse

Click HERE to read my 2nd blog (June 2016)- My Admiral Nursing Journey

Click HERE to read my 3rd blog (July 2016) - My Admiral Nursing Journey

Click HERE to read my 4th blog (August 2016) - My Admiral Nursing Journey

Click HERE to read my 5th blog (November 2016) - My Admiral Nursing Journey





Investing in our Workforce by Virginia Perkins

Virginia Perkins, Head of Human ResourcesThe last 12 months has been a great journey for the Human Resources function which I lead.


One of the main priorities for the workforce has been to increase health and wellbeing awareness across the Springhill Care Group, as it is proven to have a positive impact on productivity, morale and engagement.


I feel that we are now in a stronger position to continue to raise awareness of the importance of keeping fit and healthy, through the various initiatives we are running. These include:


  • Educating the workforce on eating nutritious meals
  • Encouraging staff to attend Health Check days
  • Advising the workforce on being appropriately hydrated
  • Providing the workforce with access to 24-hour free external counselling services
  • Implementation of an attendance bonus
  • Issuing pedometers
  • Ensuring availability of fresh fruit in every staff room
  • Allowing staff to express their suggestions through the Employee Voice.


As a result of these initiatives we have seen a huge increase in employee engagement which has reached 100 per cent in some of our homes together with increased employee attendance in work. This all contributes to Springhill Care achieving one of its corporative objectives of being recognised as an Employer of Excellence in the communities we serve.


Achieving the revised ‘sixth generation’ Investors in People Standard has also been a great achievement for the organisation particularly as it outperformed the health care sector on every level when assessed against the rigorous new version 6 criteria, but it doesn’t stop there.


Continuous improvement is core to the organisation’s continued success and the IiP Steering Group will reconvene to embark on a new journey to achieving the IiP Platinum standard within the next year or so. The IiP Steering Group will also be identifying ways in which it can assist and offer advice to other health care services within the sector by aiming to be a champion organisation in this field.


An ambitious agenda has been set for organisational development in conjunction with Donna Briggs, our Managing Director, to introduce a new competency behavioural stretching framework which will be aligned to the business objectives of the organisation.


We will also be introducing mental health workshops and ambassadors to each of our homes and services to support people who are experiencing mental health problems as well as to improve mental wellbeing in our workforce. Work will also continue on staff retention, employee engagement and investing in our workforce by offering further opportunities for learning and development.


These are just a few examples of what we will be offering staff over coming months, so do check back to find out more as we can announce it.


By Virginia Perkins

Head of Human Resources

Springhill Care Group



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