We’ve recently had the privilege of discussing the challenges of the past year with Andrew Wrensch of Carlton Court Care Home in Bells Hill. It’s obviously been momentous and draining, but a virtual visit on Zoom and several chats on the phone have demonstrated what an inspiration this team is and how they have kept their spirits up during such a difficult time.
I was offered a fascinating insight into the home, “met” several members of staff and residents including a lady staying temporarily while recovering from the effects of Covid. Carlton Court had developed a rehabilitation plan for her specific needs to allow her to regain strength and return home to live independently.
It was also inspiring seeing the broad range of facilities in the home such as cinema, hair salon, café and other dining areas, lounges and landscaped gardens. I haven’t visited a care home for many years, so it was interesting to see how things have moved on.
As well as organising my “visit” Andrew has written this account, sharing his reflections of the past year. He has also supplied some pictures offering a glimpse of life at Carlton Court (he’s on the drums).
The care industry has had its ups and downs over the last year. We have really experienced such a mix of emotions and experienced so much that it has often seemed unreal, almost like a scene from a poorly scripted movie. With that said, we have managed to overcome so much and this has all been make possible with a few secret ingredients.
1. Working together
The health and social care sector, the NHS, medical and clinical professionals and the private care sector have all been working very closely together all for the benefit of the elderly residents in the community. Supporting with blockbeds (beds in care homes reserved for hospitals) has allowed a bit of relief in the hospitals and supported a faster discharge from hospital. Furthermore, organisations such as the Clinical Commissioning Group who continue to support, guide and refer to care homes have ensured that care homes are able to meet the needs of the people that need it most and that people find the care homes that are most appropriate for them.
Team members in the care sector have gone above and beyond, they have pushed through exhaustion, pushed through their own fears and pushed through their own doubts; simply put, carers have been there, no matter what. Even when times were the toughest. For this we are extremely grateful to the carers-
To quote Sijal, Senior Carer at Carlton Court, “Through a difficult year, what has helped me show up and step up was the thought of our residents and all the people I work with”.
Carers have worked extra shifts, taken on additional responsibilities, had to undergo much more additional training and competencies, and where the community were reluctant to take up care jobs, care home management have still been able to deliver care, agency free in many cases. This, in itself, shows the determination and planning by the management within the care homes.
3. Patience and faith of friends and relatives
Families have tried to keep their loved ones at home for as long as possible, but where this isn’t always possible and the hard decision is made to place their loved one in care, especially where dementia or higher nursing needs come in to play, the amount of faith and trust we have seen is unbelievable. This is especially as face-to-face visits were not possible for so long and how a quarantine period has been required for anyone going into care. Carers and wellbeing team have been working together to make connection possible, ensuring that visits take place through a glass screen with a speaker system, making sure that there are scheduled phone calls and video calls and going the extra mile to facilitate connection in as many ways as possible.
Useful links and advice
For those caring for the elderly in their own homes, there is a lot of support available through organisations such as Age UK and Dementia Club UK (specifically in Barnet and the surrounding area).
Dementia Club UK has a home carers support group that meets every Wednesday at 7pm offering talks on a range of topics such as supporting healthy sleeping patterns, wellbeing and activities, understanding distress and nutrition and hydration (which has become a particular issue during lockdown as social routines have been lost – especially sharing cups of tea and coffee with friends and family).