The MD's musings

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5th February

There's no business like snow business...

I used to have a love-love relationship with snow. Now it's more love-stress. As an organisation, we've always offered lifts to our staff in our 4x4 in adverse weather, but with constantly increasing staffing numbers and the company's 7-seater 4x4 in the middle of a repair job last week, the snow presented a particular logistical challenge this time.

With around 50 staff on duty over 24 hours and nearly 10 different shift changes across the various departments, it meant driving for the best part of 18 hours on Friday. Throw a couple of fallen trees into the mix, which blocked our drive, and it was probably a 20-hour shift for our stoic maintenance team.

Short of giving them an actual medal and thanking them on bended knee, I'm not quite sure how we can recognise such a valiant effort. Overtime rate and a box of biscuits doesn't seem enough for the role they played in keeping everyone safe and sound.

Perhaps listening to them about how we can improve things for next time, and putting a more robust strategy in place that doesn't rely so heavily on one or two vehicles and people is the kindest thing to do.

During my last driving shift on Saturday evening I was contemplating what takeaway I was going to pick up on my way home only to find our local village had turned into a ghost town. The takeaways and even the off-licence had closed early. And then the responsibility of our situation really struck me.

We can never simply shut our doors and close for the day. A nurse half an hour late for their shift could delay a time-specific medication for someone with Parkinson's disease. And being short of care staff could put someone recovering from a stroke at risk of a pressure sore and infection.

By Sunday morning, everyone managed to make it to and from work under their own steam, for which I was extremely grateful, and remember thinking that I'll never take people simply turning up for work for granted again! Times like these really highlight what an amazing team we have, and how fortunate we are to have people working for us who put other people before themselves.

So, all that was left to do was spread some salt one last time before tentatively checking the weather forecast to make sure the temperature was indeed due to stay above zero for the foreseeable. Long may it last.

All the best,

Charlie

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28th November

The WayBack: challenging dementia with virtual reality

A few years ago, a group of friends decided to team up on a Kickstarter project after seeing their loved ones face Alzheimer’s. They came up with the idea to use virtual reality to trigger happy memories, helping those living with this cruel disease as well as their family members and friends. They called it The WayBack, as sometimes the best way forward is to go WayBack!

Did you know that Alzheimer’s disease is the biggest health challenge this country faces, costing more than cancer or heart disease?

Alzheimer’s affects our ability to remember, understand and communicate and often leads to severe memory loss and the inability to recognise friends or family members, which is heartbreaking to see.

At some point, this disease will inevitably affect everyone’s lives. We see this first-hand every day at the Huntington & Langham Estate and although we provide support and reassurance to the people who live here and their loved ones where we can, people often feel vulnerable and helpless.

Virtual reality offers a way to go further, which is why we were delighted when we were asked to be involved in this pioneering project, putting new technology to good use and helping to improve the lives of those living with Alzheimer’s.

The initial stage of the Kickstarter project saw the team ask for help to get the concept off the ground, and incredibly, 230 backers pledged £35,040 to help bring this project to life.

The next step was to make the first in a series of VR films a reality, realistically recreating iconic moments from history – complete with costumes and props – tapping into the viewer’s long-term memory and temporarily immersing them in a familiar time.

The first project the group decided to focus on was the Queen’s Coronation in 1953, chosen to spark vivid memories and precious conversation; and although the video is in the past, it can trigger connections with loved ones and carers in the present. Here at the Huntington & Langham Estate, the people who live here were lucky enough to be some of the first to try out this wonderful technology, and now you can too. Lasting for just a few minutes, this film is free to view through any smartphone – all you need is a pair of cardboard VR goggles, and these are widely available for around £3.

This is what our MD, Charlie, had to say about the project: “Dementia can leave you feeling unsure about every situation you find yourself in but being immersed in familiar moments when the dementia didn’t exist, such as watching the Coronation on a black and white TV, seemed to instil a feeling of certainty and security in our residents.”

This first film went live in November 2017, but there are more in the pipeline. And better yet…

We are delighted to say that today, The WayBack was announced as the winner of Challenge Dementia, a national prize seeking to improve the lives of people living with dementia.

What an amazing achievement! Congratulations to all those involved.

It really was incredible to be involved in such a pioneering project and we can’t wait to see the impact The WayBack will inevitably have on dementia care, both here at the Huntington & Langham Estate and in homes across the country and further afield.

Here’s to the next chapter of this incredible idea that’s sure to change lives, for the better. With the Queen’s Coronation in 1953 already covered, plus England’s World Cup victory in 1966 and the 1969 Apollo landings in the pipeline, what significant event in modern history will we be watching through our virtual reality headsets next? Whatever it is, we hope we can help by testing it out here in our home.

Visit thewaybackvr.com to find out more and to download the free WayBack app.

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20th November

Another award recognising Langham’s exceptional care

Remember, remember the 8th November…as that’s the night when the high-profile Gala night for the National Dementia Care Awards was held at the Hilton Brighton Metropole, hosted by Labour politician, Hazel Blears.

Over 450 guests were in attendance, and we’re proud to say that one of our own was in attendance as she had been nominated for an award – Maggie Cain. For those of you who know Maggie, this will come as no surprise! And for those of you who don’t, you’re more than welcome to visit us at Langham Court anytime and see the positive impact Maggie has on our residents’ lives.

We’re delighted to say that on the night, Maggie was presented with the award for Dementia Care Inspiring Leader 2018, which is an absolutely incredible achievement! This is what the two judges had to say: “Maggie has such a big heart and huge compassion. She inspires the staff by simply being herself – she is a lovely human being. Maggie’s greatest joy is seeing others blossom in a culture of kindness, love and respect…family.”

A bit about the awards

Once a year, the National Dementia Care Awards are held, organised by the Journal of Dementia Care, which is a multidisciplinary journal for all professional staff working with people who are living with dementia. This includes those working in hospitals, nursing and residential care homes, day units and the community.

Created to recognise the very best individuals working within the dementia care sector, the awards are highly coveted, identifying those people whose exceptional work and contributions make better, person-centred care a reality. This year, there were 16 categories, with four or five finalists within each of those categories, and two independent judges carefully choosing the winners.

Maggie’s great achievement

Maggie was nominated for the Dementia Care Inspiring Leader 2018 award by Julie Drake, who is the manager here at Langham Court, and notably the 2017/8 National Dementia Manager of the Year.

In Julie’s words, “Maggie is an inspiration to the whole Langham Court care team. She has the gift of befriending everyone she meets and is a cornerstone of the success of Langham Court. Maggie has been one of the team for over five years and continually works to enrich of the lives of the people living at Langham Court and those of their families.”

As her name was announced at the Gala as the winner, Maggie was completely overwhelmed, mentioning in her acceptance speech how she felt extremely humbled, thanking her wonderful team for their backing. Maggie admitted that she is not very good at self-promotion, preferring to spend her time quietly working behind the scenes and making sure that everyone who lives and works at Langham Court always feel like they are ‘at home’. Maggie’s commitment, energy and passion truly reflect the home’s ethos and we couldn’t be prouder of what she has achieved.

To experience Langham Court for yourself, please do get in touch – we would love to hear from you and are always happy to help.