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If I woke up in a perfect care home – how would I know?


Asking residents, carers, friends and family this question helped the team at Millbrook Lodge focus on what’s really important in a care home.

robin willmott

robin willmott

Robin Willmott, general manager, Millbrook Lodge

Millbrook Lodge is proud to have been asked to become one of just five teaching care homes in the country as part of a pilot project being run jointly by the Department of Health, the Foundation of Nursing Studies and Care England.

The aim of the project is to highlight good practice within UK care homes. We’ll be identifying and celebrating the notion of personhood and person-centred practice that we know is happening in care homes all over the country every day.

To look at what this means for Millbrook Lodge I should probably start with identifying where we are at the start of the project as a baseline.

Millbrook Lodge is an 80 bedded care home with both nursing and residential households. In total we employ around 150 staff, the majority of whom work in care and nursing. The home is part of the Orders of St.John Care Trust which can proudly boast at being the oldest care trust in the world.

”So what is good care in the 21st century?”

So what is good care in the 21st century? How have expectations of care changed over time? What do our residents and their families expect today? How should we be preparing for the future?

Firstly, when a person moves into a care home, they should not expect to be placed in a lounge with little stimulation. That is not care.

Today, care homes walk the delicate balance of providing resident centred care and choice while meeting individual health needs. This challenges our nursing teams daily to co-ordinate care with the person, the community of health care professionals and each individual’s community of family, friends and significant others.

In essence, if you wish to see Nolan’s relationship centred care in action within the context of person centred care: visit a care home.

“If you wish to see Nolan’s relationship centred care in action within the context of person centred care: visit a care home”

Back in June we invited relatives, residents and staff to a meeting where we asked the question: “If I woke up in or a perfect care home, how would I know?”

This gave us a multitude of perspectives and helped us broaden our understanding of what is expected of care in the 21st century.

The exercise was well received and gave staff, residents and families a holistic view on the challenges and expectations of the service. Common responses included:

  • “Happy staff”
  • “Great communication with residents and each other”
  • “A bright and welcoming environment”

We followed this meeting up by looking at how we can meet the requirements of care as directed by these responses.

We are now in the month of September so to a point this has become business as usual for Millbrook Lodge. Now the schools are back we can resume our partnership with the local primary school who send a group of students to us each week. Sometimes this can be to play games with the residents or to sit and chat about their lives. Our residents pass on bakery tips to the students when they join them in baking cakes.

We also hope to continue hosting a local mums and toddlers group who meet here at the home and share their experience with each other and our residents who are able to advise and enjoy seeing the toddlers making their way in the world.

”Being a teaching care home will give us the opportunity to discuss what we do well and support other organisations to make positive changes”

It is important not to forget this generation of individuals who still have so much knowledge, compassion and love to teach us. For me, being a teaching care home is about listening to the experienced voices of residents and using that knowledge to teach a new generation. That could be a year six student from the local school, a new mum, or a new carer or nurse.

Being a teaching care home will give us the opportunity to discuss what we do well and support other organisations to make positive changes. It will enable us to show what autonomous nursing looks like in the community acknowledging the challenges and successes that we meet and achieve each week.

Yesterday was different… the staff here wanted to create a calendar to be sold for the resident amenity fund - a fund that pays for the residents’ day trips, entertainment, etc.

Yesterday we had a day of outrageous costumes, laughter and fun led by a care team who are focused on the needs of the residents and prepared to walk that extra mile to ensure individuals’ choices and needs are met.

That is 21st century care.

Robin Willmott is general manager at Millbrook Lodge


Readers' comments (2)

  • Until the owners of the home decided to cut costs and just serve minimal food for the elderly or worst use only 3 pads for 24 hours.....TO SAVE MONEY!
    I've seen and heard them all.
    When I lodge a grievance, because I'm a concerned Nurse, the management spread rumors that I was suspended by the Nursing home. Do you think these "managers and owners" care?
    Unfortunately they don't.
    It's only for the know.
    It's high time for CQC to hire a permanent "staff" on each nursing home throughout the country to find out who's telling lies to media, to residents & to their families.
    I'm not British by ethnicity and very concerned with what is really going on "INSIDE" Nursing homes.

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  • I'd say to 'anonymous' above, what else did you do other than raise a grievance? Staff who complain without offering any solution are not helping the whole care home issue. Sure, money is tight, and councils don't pay enough to cover the true cost of care, but it's the staff who make all the difference to a place.
    As to what's 'really going on inside care homes' I'd argue that the vast majority do a damn good job of caring for older people who often have very complex needs, and who continually have to deal with the very negative portrayal put forward not only by the media, but also other nurses in the nhs and tertiary care.

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