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As the New Care Models Programme marks its first anniversary, the manager of Hemsworth Park Care Home in Pontefract, explains how being a vanguard has helped improve the health and wellbeing of residents.
Connecting Care – Wakefield District vanguard is one of six national new care model vanguards that are focused on enhancing health in care homes by offering better and joined up health, care and rehabilitation services.
The model being developed with 11 care homes in West Yorkshire, is designed to ‘break the mould’ for older people in care homes, tackling social isolation and shifting from fragmented to connected care.
My first introduction to the vanguard was in August 2015 and I couldn’t wait to get started. The programme has introduced a great move forward in care and I feel privileged to be part of something so exciting – our residents have been really excited too.
One of the main differences has been the introduction of a dedicated multi-disciplinary team drawing together different specialists – we have a lot more visitors now!
In the past, physiotherapists and chiropodists only visited as needed, and it could be anyone who came. Now we have a dedicated team who visit on an as needed basis. This helps our team to build a better relationship with them.
The new team gets to know our residents and identifies those who need extra support, arranging referrals to the best person, whether that’s a dietician, geriatrician, neurologist and so on.
We are also receiving a great deal of social and wellbeing support from local voluntary groups and other organisations. Age UK visit weekly and work with staff and residents through reminiscence therapy and South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Trust has helped our staff access training in developing a portrait of an individual’s life. This work helps us connect with our residents and find out more about their personal likes and dislikes and it also helps residents bond with each other, as they find things they have in common.
Before the vanguard, care homes felt quite isolated – most in the area are privately owned and didn’t really speak to each other. But we now have monthly meetings where we discuss the issues we have in common, exchange ideas, and share best practice and learning.
We also hope to offer residents more contact with the local community and more tailored activities, especially for younger residents who are at risk of feeling isolated.
Years ago the typical care home resident was more independent than they are now; our service users have a much higher level of need. The vanguard is looking at ways for our staff to access some of the same training that hospital-based nurses receive, and we’re discussing how our staff might link up with NHS clinical skills training in areas including catheter care and venepuncture.
The new care model is definitely making life better for staff and residents, and I’m seeing a big difference. This is about nursing a person, not just their illnesses.