Taking the decision to move yourself or a loved one into residential care is an important life moment – a big step, fraught with emotion and a fear of the unknown. Everyone wants and deserves to spend their later life in an environment that is familiar and feels like home, surrounded by people who are caring for their emotional and physical needs. And when the time comes to say goodbye, everyone wants their last moments on Earth to be peaceful and dignified.
While care homes across the UK are working wonders in the toughest conditions – an economic crisis and a pandemic are hitting care facilities harder than anyone else – this period of change has allowed one care home in particular to reassess the way that residents receive care in their facility and to make some significant changes to improve the lives and ultimately deaths of their residents.
Town Thorns Care Home is a purpose-built care facility based in Easenhall, near Coventry, and is owned and operated by the automotive industry charity, Ben. Town Thorns is home to 60 residents with a diverse range of needs, from residential through to nursing and dementia care. While this means that residents can stay with Town Thorns without having to relocate to a new facility when their condition deteriorates, the Town Thorns team has decided to tackle some of the bureaucratic challenges it was facing when offering through-life care.
Debbie Dale, Care Centre Manager at Town Thorns, said: “When a resident moves into Town Thorns, we want them to feel it’s their home. Their room is their own, we treat it as being an extension of their own family home, and we want all the people we care for to feel comfortable and secure. Naturally, as age-related conditions set in, our residents’ needs will change over time. A light-touch approach from our staff at the beginning may progress into more complex nursing support as a person’s health deteriorates, and dementia is also a very changeable and challenging condition.
“Previously, when a person’s needs changed, we had to move them into a different unit on our site to accommodate that – meaning they had to leave the room they know, the support staff they know, and start again in an unfamiliar setting. And if nursing or end of life care was needed but the resident wasn’t part of our own nursing care facility, we needed to call on the services of our district nurse – waiting until the next nurse became available and sometimes leaving our residents in distress or discomfort. This seemed ridiculous given that we had our own nurse on site, but our hands were tied. We had to follow the procedures. We knew we could find a better way – we want the best for our residents and we want them to receive the best possible care. So, we made some changes.”
Town Thorns has worked closely with its nursing and care team to develop a new way of working which they have titled ‘The Best Life model’. Under this new programme, residents are able to remain in their dedicated room for the duration of their life at Town Thorns, regardless of their medical needs, and have access to 24/7 nursing support. To make this possible, all carers have been trained and upskilled to take over some of the non-medical tasks from the in-house nurses, leaving them free to focus on clinical care for all residents, wherever they reside in the building.
Joanne Brine, Head of Care at Town Thorns, said: “We are currently in the final phase of a full refurbishment at Town Thorns, and we didn’t want to stop at refreshing our building. We wanted to give our care programme a full overhaul and focus on giving the best possible later life support to our residents. It’s been a huge undertaking, and I am so grateful for the passion and commitment from all our staff who have given up their own time to make this work and dedicated themselves to learning new skills and shaping the Best Life model with us.
“So far, it’s been a seamless process – the residents know they will always see the same faces and the same surroundings and the families are happy that their loved ones will be able to settle and also receive medical assistance right away. Our staff also benefit as they are learning new skills that will benefit their careers and they also know what a huge difference the Best Life Model will make to the residents that they have grown to know and love. We are excited about the future of Town Thorns – the best is yet to come.”
Following the successful introduction of Best Life in Town Thorns, Zara Ross, CEO of Ben, said: “We are delighted to be rolling out our Best Life Model at Town Thorns. We are continually looking at ways to improve the service we provide to our residents and this innovative approach will ensure our residents experience care that is really focused on their needs and wellbeing”
To find out more about Town Thorns or any of Ben’s care facilities, visit www.ben.org.uk/bencare
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