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'There's no need for care homes to feel isolated'

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After reaping the benefits of the Teaching Care Home pilot, Karen Davies challenges other care home managers to reflect on how they can share and disseminate best practice within the care home sector

karen davies

karen davies

I chose to work as a care home manager following a busy NHS career latterly in district nursing. Frustrated by the lack of time to do all I had to do, I choose to make a difference in the care home world. I have been in this sector since 1999 and appreciate the challenges and opportunities in equal measure.

The care home world is vast and yet many homes and managers feel isolated. Few have local networks and partnerships with their neighbours, and anxieties about sensitive commercial boundaries often mean people are reluctant to share. Yet, we are one profession and share one objective: to make the lives of those we care for the best they can be.

The need to share is critical and isolation for smaller providers must be daunting. With changes in regulation, registration of nurses and policy, it has never been more crucial to make those links and come together with a strong sector voice.

“Some of the myths and paranoia around sharing practice can be quickly dismissed”

Linking across communities can help with learning, particularly arround the changes we have to make, and some of the myths and paranoia around sharing practice can be quickly dismissed.

My home was selected to be one of the Teaching Care Home pilots and we have spent the last nine months as part of a development set with four other homes from across the country. We have challenged each other, supported each other, learned from each other and, I think I can speak for us all, in saying we have all felt included. Not one of us has held back in our opinions, sharing of values, approaches and developments. Why would we? We all want what’s best for those in our care.

“We all want what’s best for those in our care”

If we can do this across five counties, why can’t we achieve this across our five neighbouring homes?

Being a good neighbour, sharing our challenges and ideas, using each other for revalidation, creating a community of professional sharing: it’s not difficult. Isn’t that what integration is supposed to be about? Not only is integration across health and social care, but also across our providers locally. Surely, this would be better for all.

We need to stop looking through the window into the world and instead invite the world into our home. I think if we did that then we would have a greater profile locally allowing us to create better relationships with our NHS colleagues, share training and learning opportunities, and to challenge each other’s thinking and ideas.

“The Teaching Care Home pilot has opened my eyes and mind to new possibilities and ideas”

If we don’t invite people in we are perpetuating the myths of the care home sector as being from a different world, who lack independent thinking and wait to be led rather than seek to lead. Not just managers having a coffee club, but at all levels, shadowing and reflecting together on what we do. A good idea can be adapted to fit your home and circumstance.

Sitting in Greater Manchester the Devo Man ambition of integration of health and social care could be the test bed for building local partnerships amongst homes. The Teaching Care Home pilot has opened my eyes and mind to new possibilities and ideas about how we invite people in and disseminate our learning. I needed to put my money where my mouth is and we are hosting a roundtable discussion locally to look at the need for more support to care home development and ideas about Teaching Care Homes as a start of that engagement.

I challenge you to think and reflect about how you and your home could engage locally. It’s amazing what happens through the looking glass and how much you can learn from what you see.

Karen Davies Manager Rose Court Care Home Bury

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