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Help to Restore Confidence in Care Homes

1st September

Let’s try and build the confidence of everyone considering Residential Care.

I am sure you are all aware of the national data released giving details of how many people have lost their lives to coronavirus during the pandemic. There are also homes that have come out the other side without losing anyone. It is challenging for everyone, and this remains, due to guidelines in place as we are all still vigilant. What we provide is friendship, nutrition, and care and lots of fun!

It is important to maintain levels of activity within the home as we all know that we would recognise a rapid deterioration in the residents due to lack of engagement with the outside world. Individuals can experience fatigue, lethargy, and reduced mobility if we don’t keep the body engaged with daily activity. The team note the importance of providing care that promotes a sense of individual hope and positivity.

From the start of the Pandemic, we have followed Government advice and a clear process has been in place to prevent and contain infection from the onset of Covid-19 pandemic. Our Home Manager, Claire Allsopp decided to take an early lockdown based on the news about Covid 19 from the beginning of the pandemic. The decision made was to lock down the home 3 weeks earlier than recommended. This was no easy decision but the main reason for this was to keep residents and staff as safe as possible. We managed to source PPE when supplies were low from kind donations from family members, local businesses, and staff. Additional measures were put into place such as deeper cleaning to help kill off any germs, so thank you to our hard-working housekeeping team for their efforts. PPE was worn by all staff entering the home, residents were asked to remain in the home. We introduced a system of checking temperature/oxygen sats in case anyone was showing signs of infection. We continue to do this as a precaution. Regular LFTs and PCR tests are taken by all staff, residents are checked and anyone visiting the home must follow the same procedures. To date we have remained safe throughout the pandemic, we ho pe that our stringent routine keeps everyone protected from this awful virus moving forward.

Communication is an important factor in all our lives – so remember to talk to people to ensure you have those daily chats amongst each other, this way we can help resolve any concerns. We are all social creatures who thrive when interacting and connecting with others. As we age, many of us find ourselves more alone than we were in our younger years, often leading to loneliness. This can result in a state of vulnerability and social isolation. We are here to help resolve that feeling, we can certainly provide a sense of community and help your loved ones make friends.

Loneliness is not just a fleeting feeling, it can be crippling both mentally and physically, bringing with it the risk of depression, cognitive decline, and heart disease. The most common reasons for loneliness are the loss of a partner or spouse, separation from friends or family, lack of mobility and retirement. Hopefully this is where we can help, giving 24-hour care, activities to keep the mind stimulated, companionship, exercises, a balanced diet, and lots of fun which creates smiles. This leads to a healthy mind and spirit.

You can follow our activities through our social media pages and our website:

All staff are trained and can develop their skills with further NVQ qualifications as they progress with us. Residents are allocated a key worker; they are responsible for their health and well-being. Once they get to know the resident they will notice if there are any sudden changes and notify a key member of staff. Our values lie at the heart of our home: simplicity, peace, integrity, community, and equality.

You may notice sudden changes in the way your loved one or yourself is coping with life. If any of the following are obvious you should discuss with a friend or family member:

  •  Finding it difficult to manage at home
  •  Can no longer prepare nutritional meals
  •  Loneliness
  •  Health declining
  •  Mobility issues
As we have mentioned before it helps when you talk to others.

If you are unsure where to start when making enquiries for care, here are a few tips to help you start the process:
  •  Check reviews online. Visit the home, if possible.
  •  Explain the type of care required for example residential, respite or nursing
  •  Stages of care required – help with washing, dressing, feeding
  •  Outlining any medical conditions so we can establish if we can help
  •  Mobility status – use of wheelchair, hoist use or walking frame
  •  Recent lifestyle changes
  •  Likes and dislikes are very important
  •  How do you like to spend your day? Eg early or late riser, hobbies
  •  How will the fees be met – self funding or social funding
We have provided care for residents from the age of 65+, since 1946. We hope that we can provide a relaxed lifestyle and home for you or your loved ones when you feel the time is right. Read on to see what some of our residents and staff have to say about Swarthmore:

What do our residents have to say:

Everyone does what they can during these difficult times. The staff have made the right decision as we have been kept safe from the virus. None of it is easy, we are all in this together. We have each other to talk to and some days we just sit and laugh about things. Barbara F

The administration is honorable. I have a great deal of confidence in Swarthmore, and we are kept well informed of the situation as it changes. Diana L

My wife died in June 2020 and from that time I lived alone. I had domestic assistance from Eden Care who had been nursing my wife through the final stages of dementia with daily visits. I catered for myself with shopping and cooking, assisted by my son Ortho and his partner Kari. They were angels in their help, and Ortho suggested that I might benefit from a care home. He applied no pressure but set off to investigate as many homes as he could and was eventually converted to the benefits of Swarthmore and to apprising me of its superiority. I came here in the midst of lockdown and self-isolation for a fortnight. The friendship of the staff made me feel at home and the time did not drag. My room is ideal, and the ethos of the home is most amicable. I have been made to feel at home. Tom B

Staff comments

Max – “I feel that I have become closer with the residents and their families as I have built close relationships. As relatives could not come into the home, we have carried out so many Zoom and WhatsApp calls to help keep the communication link. I now feel like a grandson to the families and residents. I hope that they can look up to me to help with any request”!

Everyone says that Max has high spirits all day long and this makes everyone happy.

Dickson – “I feel the whole team has become one big family as we encourage each other on our down days. Max has so much energy which spurs us all on, the team in general know what to say whether it makes us laugh or cry, we get through it together. Management is always around to support our needs and that makes the team wholesome. At the beginning of the pandemic, I used to question myself - Do I need to purchase a pint of milk on the way home? At the back of mind, I was thinking I need to make sure I don’t come in to contact with anyone carrying the virus. Our main goal is to keep our residents and our colleagues safe.”

Whilst I was speaking with one of our residents, Renate came into the room to whisk someone off to lunch. She needed to assist her by wheelchair and always ensured to address this as her chariot and call her ‘madame’. It’s so lovely to hear the team go above and beyond to make someone’s day! She certainly did that as the resident had the biggest smile on her face.

Diana likes to have a chat about most things whilst assisting their needs. She feels it’s a privilege to get to know such lovely people.

Agatha My aim is to make the residents smile and feel good in themselves.

For further information about care please contact us on 01753 885663, Option 1.

Moving home is unsettling for everyone, we understand this is a big move for you and we will do our best to help you settle in. Introducing you to like-minded residents and joining in with activities will help you move in the right direction so you can become part of the Swarthmore family within no time at all. We celebrate lots of special occasions, musical entertainment is provided and there is plenty of art, craft, poetry, exercises and much more available by our energetic activities team. As life returns to some sense of normality for everyone, we are introducing days out such as our recent trip on a river boat in Henley.

Our chefs provide home cooked meals with lots of nutrition, afternoon teas, food from around the world to celebrate special occasions and much more. We will ensure you have a balanced diet to keep you healthy and bright. Drinks are served throughout the day, to keep you hydrated. Special requests can be made, and all dietary requirements are considered.

To make yourself feel at home, we suggest bringing some of your sentimental belongings, so you are surrounded by memories and items of comfort.

We have introduced technology to most of our residents during lockdown and it’s amazing to see how many residents have become accustomed to this. Whether it’s using WhatsApp or Zoom on iPads/phones or laptops. We have also invested in a visitor pod so you can sit in comfort in a warm and comfortable environment. During fine weather you can sit in our wonderful garden and enjoy the views. Some of you may choose to visit your relative in their rooms within the home too. There are lots of options to maintain contact if guidelines are adhered to, so we can ensure everyone’s safety.

Despite the overwhelming amount of work everyone had, the team found a way to help each other, and have become much closer as a team. Some have built life-long friendships whilst combining their efforts at work. Companionship is so important to any resident in care. Staff tried to spend more time talking to residents whilst carrying out care needs; under normal circumstances residents would be socialising with family, going out or enjoying outside entertainment. Reassurance was key for many residents and staff, we all worked together to help keep spirits high. As time went by conversations changed and we started to discuss other topics and put the world to right, lots of laughs and tears along the way.

Leaving the home after a day’s work was the worrying part for everyone, we all minimised contact with the outside world to ensure everyone’s safety. Staff regarded the safety of all residents and their fellow colleagues and their families. We have followed a strict set of guidelines to prevent against infection, again this is with great thanks to all our staff.

The general impression I am receiving from staff is that they have all stepped outside their comfort zone during these difficult times, which has made their roles diverse and more enjoyable. They have become a pro-active team and made life at Swarthmore an amazing place to be.

Life remains on guard for everyone since the pandemic, care homes are still taking many precautions and steps to ensure everyone’s safety. An isolation period is required to ensure you are not carrying the virus, which will hopefully eliminate the spread of a virus if contained. We understand this is difficult and we will ensure that our staff help you get through this period. Staff will spend time with you fulfilling activities on a one-to-one basis, hold conversations which will help you get to know everyone. It’s important to help each other get through this period. You will be able to maintain contact during this time with your family and friends via WhatsApp or Zoom calls which we will help organise. When it’s time to meet other Swarthmore residents, we will introduce you to everyone to help you settle in and make friends.

There will be times when we must assess our own loved one’s current situation. It may be that they are living alone, afraid to go out after the pandemic, they may still be shielding, or living too far away from their family. Our team can take a creative approach to engage with residents and help them challenge themselves with exercises and other activities to help stimulate the mind. A simple exercise such as throwing and catching an easy item such as a soft ball can help with strength and co-ordination development. Being amongst fellow residents enhances a sense of broader well-being and happier in person.

Care Homes provide specialist care to residents, we act as emotional and physical support to improve the quality of life. We help individual needs, functionality, and well-being. It can become difficult to care for someone as we become older ourselves. Staff are trained and experienced with care and passionate about their roles.

We hope to continue to provide care as we have done for many years, helping people live a happy life, maintaining their health by providing nutrition, hydration, and most of all – companionship and fun.

I hope this article helps anyone who may be reluctantly holding back from considering a care home. Care homes have been around for some time now, Covid has hit everyone worldwide. They are here to help everyone who may be struggling with age, daily chores and feeling alone.

A lesson learnt by all – I am sure I can speak for most people during this pandemic. We shouldn’t take things for granted! Enjoy life fulfilling your wishes, as no-one knows what is around the corner. Let people know that you care and cherish each day you spend with your friends and loved ones.

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