In 2012 the NHS launched Compassion in Practice, a new vision and strategy setting out 6Cs of compassionate care. Care, Compassion, Competence, Communication, Courage and Commitment, are clearly all vital features of good care, however I believe that to provide the ultimate person-centred care, there are a few more Cs we could add on.

As the Activity Co-ordinator at Tolson Grange care home in Huddersfield I enjoy truly varied and exciting working days. It’s my job to ensure our residents have plenty of opportunities to take part in a range of meaningful activities and enjoy an active lifestyle. I guess, to the outside world, my role doesn’t really sound like traditional “care” but I get to know our residents all individually and know the positive impact activity has on their daily lives.

Our care home is currently very excited to be taking part in the Anchor Virtual Cruise, a unique initiative you may have read about in my colleague Debbie’s recent blog. Anchor care homes up and down the country are planning “trips” to destinations around the world and at Tolson Grange we boarded the Tolson Ocean Breeze cruise liner and set sail for our first destination, Port Andalucía in Spain just a couple of weeks ago.

While planning the Anchor Virtual Cruise I’ve been thinking a lot about the NHS’s 6Cs, because every day I see firsthand how meaningful activities really do make a huge difference to the people who live in our care home, and with that in mind I have a few thoughts on what else makes care at Tolson Grange truly person-centred.

Creativity

Working in a person-centred care home one of the key ingredients positively impacting care, especially from an Activity Co-ordinators point of view, is creativity.

The enthusiasm and creativity to step outside the traditional box of compassionate care and make possible experiences like our trip to Spain is crucial. If you can’t get to a cruise ship, we’ll bring the cruise ship to you! With just a little expense, the team at Tolson Grange created a fantastic environment that not only made our imaginary voyage fun but extremely realistic. Residents stepped onto the Tolson Ocean Breeze cruise liner where they were welcomed by the Captain and a silver service of sparkling wine and fresh fruit platters. We had an outside deck area in the sun kitted out with wooden benches, nautical tableware and brollies. Sounds of the ocean, sea gulls and an occasionally ships sounding their horn all added to the experience. We created a “stateroom” where residents sat next to the fireplace and sipped on fine wine. Above the fireplace was a map of the world, postcards and other holiday memorabilia which helped spark a gazillion memories of past holidays for our residents. We created a sea view cabin, and of course, a dance floor area complimented by an eclectic variety of music.

As well as having a fabulous time, all the care staff learnt so much more about our residents through this imaginative experience day. Residents who we felt we already knew pretty well shared new memories of past holidays they had with friends and family and others found themselves recalling trips they hadn’t talked about for years. These special details can help positively influence future activities; we made notes in care plans and can put this new knowledge to future use during reminiscence sessions.

Confidence

Confidence is a little similar to the NHS’s criteria of Courage, but for me personally courage represents entering into something without fully knowing what the result will be. Confidence is about having belief in both yourself and the others around you that the ideas you have, the experience the residents will have and what you are doing will in fact be a success and have a massively positive impact on the lives of your residents. This belief allows you to really let go of inhibition and explore great things with care home residents.

The Anchor Virtual Cruise is a fabulous idea but getting it off the ground took hard work and belief that it would work. Its core outcome is to encourage and support interaction and conversations between our colleagues, our residents, their friends, and relatives, and this is exactly what happened with our first voyage at Tolson Grange. We really did take a trip down memory lane and the effort was totally worth it.

Colleagues

Having the support of your colleagues is an absolute must for any idea to materialise into a real care experience. It’s not just about having the support of the care assistants who are on the floor in the care home all day long; it’s about every member of staff jumping on board (literally) with the enthusiasm for an event or activity. It’s about being encouraged by the home management to do what you believe will be a success.

Our events and activity planning does not always run flawlessly by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s all about what happens on the day. And I am really proud to say that when it counts, all the team at our home really do come together as one to make sure our residents have the experience they deserve. Our first voyage saw everyone at Tolson Grange, from Home Manager Paula to Administrator Emma, stepping into the shoes of cruise ship staff, and helping to make for a great day. We are a team.

I believe we are doing things in Anchor care homes that are forward thinking and really rewarding for our residents. We are living and working the 9Cs of person-centred care.

Craig Green is the Activity Co-ordinator at Tolson Grange care home in Huddersfield

You can follow the team at Tolson Grange on Twitter here - https://twitter.com/TolsonGrange

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