Seeing the world of care through new eyes

Blindfolded role play. Perhaps not the first thing you’d associate with a care home. But it’s something that happens quite regularly here at the Huntington & Langham Estate.

A lot of our training for staff focuses on empathy, and when asked what empathy means to them, the answer is often “putting yourself in someone else’s shoes”.

This is great in principle, but not so easy in practice given that our team members have never lived in a care home, permanently lost their independence or been at the end of their life.

Role play can temporarily immerse you into a life unknown. It can create unexpected feelings and highlight aspects of life we didn’t realise we took for granted.

I once went to a ‘Dining in the Dark’ restaurant and spat out a perfectly edible salad leaf covered in dressing as it felt like I’d put a slug in my mouth. I felt an unexpected vulnerability – my mind went into a state of panic with each mouthful after that salad leaf.

The main benefit of role play is that it takes you out of your comfort zone and into a place where it’s so easy to feel as though you’re no longer in control. Whether it’s being assisted to eat, walk, dress, wash, or whatever, being the other side of the care helps staff to realise how fine the line is between enabling and disabling.

Is there too much food on the fork? Am I giving the next mouthful too soon? Have I explained what it is? If you’re helping someone to eat and not asking yourself these questions then I’d suggest it’s time to don the blindfold.

Charlie

A manicure with real meaning

This is Mrs Malcolm, or Lesley, as she insists on being called, in preference to her given name; Patricia. Like her name, there is more than meets the eye when it comes to Lesley.

She is a model. She would say “was a model” but you only have to chat to her for a minute, as I did while she was having her nails done today, to realise she still is a model.

She may not be wearing the latest Yves Saint Laurent creation or jetting off to Paris for a photo shoot, but looking fabulous and paying meticulous attention to the detail of her nails is still as important to her as it ever was.

I must admit, I felt a little sorry for Kelly, being put through her manicure paces and having to ensure Lesley’s nails were identical in length, but she was loving it. After all, Kelly had offered to help Lesley with it, recognising how important it was to her, and quite frankly, how often do you get to converse with someone who moved in those circles?

Sure, you might be thinking ‘what’s the big deal, people have their nails done all the time’, and you’re right, I haven’t chosen this as an example of something that wouldn’t happen in other care homes. I just wonder how many carers would see it as an opportunity to transport that person to a time in their life when they had their biggest sense of purpose, and make them realise that they are still that same person?

Lesley is still a model in our eyes, and in that moment she was in her own eyes too.

We provide this kind of meaningful occupation not to prevent people from being bored or lonely (a game of Scrabble might have achieved that), but to empower people to feel like themselves again.

Charlie Hoare – Managing Director, family member and capturer of photos and moments

An alternative style of care home living

Before Langham Court opened in 2013, we spent a lot of time researching which model of care to follow, and one approach stood out above the rest. This was the ‘Butterfly’ model, which we saw as the most intuitive approach. It reflected our family ethos here at the Huntington & Langham Estate too, so we decided to follow it from day one.

A Butterfly Home

At the time, there were only a handful of ‘Butterfly’ homes, but now with more homes on board and to positive impact of this model of care so clear to see, we’re so pleased we made the decision back in 2013 – the impact it has on our residents’ lives is evident. We’re proud to be part of the top 1% of UK care homes, with a CQC rating of ‘Outstanding’, but things are about to get even better.

We’re delighted to announce that here at the Huntington & Langham Estate, we’re pioneering a brand-new model of care in both our homes on behalf of Dementia Care Matters, who developed the ‘Butterfly’ model. We’re piloting this new, ground-breaking project to challenge the traditional nursing home model that exists in most care homes across the UK by breaking down barriers that often exist between staff and residents and doing away with service-led routines and language.

Where did the model come from?

For over 20 years, the team at Dementia Care Matters have been paving the way for modern dementia care with their ‘Feelings Matter Most’ approach. Dr David Sheard, who founded it all, said: “We applaud Huntington House for being pioneers. Implementing the best ideas from Butterfly Homes across the whole care sector is the next transformation needed in the UK. All Care Matters.”

This unique model is a huge success in Canada already, and has appeared on front pages of newspapers and on national TV. What emerged from the success of the Butterfly Model was how obvious it was that its core values aren’t just relevant to dementia care, but all care. That’s why, with a potentially revolutionary impact on the care industry, Dr Sheard is adapting the original Butterfly Model to do just that.

Dr Sheard commented, “Feelings Matter Most in life whether you have dementia or not. Emotional care should be at the heart of all care. Butterfly Homes have proven quality of life in dementia care is a basic human right. The mission of Dementia Care Matters is to be a disruptor of all poor care. The essence of great dementia care can now be a model of care for everyone. Culture change across a whole care home enables everyone to flourish.”

Dementia Care Matters at the Huntington & Langham Estate

We have seen first-hand on our Estate how the Dementia Care Matters model works, and we have even won awards for it. Julie Drake, our dedicated Home Manager, won the Best Manager Award at the National Dementia Care Awards 2018 for all that she has done here.

We are also finalists at the 2018 National Dementia Care Awards for Best Activities. And it’s all thanks to how we have changed our approach by following Dr Sheard’s advice. You really can see the difference in our residents’ lives, and that’s what it’s all about. We’re so pleased that this approach can now be adopted in Huntington as well as Langham.

A bit more about the ‘Meaningful Care Matters’ model

The ‘Meaningful Care Matters’ model essentially aims to truly put the ‘home’ into nursing homes and give the people who live in them a voice.

When the residents were consulted about their feelings towards taking part in this pioneering project, one person said: “You’re not going to change the marmalade, are you?” Charlie replied, “You will be able to have whatever marmalade you would like.”

While the topic of marmalade may seem trivial to some, the ‘Meaningful Care Matters’ model appreciates that the little things in life are important and are a huge factor in making a place feel like home. While one person might have thick-cut marmalade, another might have thin, and someone else might choose to make their own. There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’, and in the extreme, each person might have a completely personalised menu for each meal that reminds them of their cherished childhood memories.

What we hope to achieve

Much of the stigma attached to nursing homes is fear of losing that all-important independence and having decisions made for you. As a minimum, the ‘All Care Matters’ model will enable residents to be more independent again by re-engaging people in their own decision-making. As a maximum, it could mean an even more fulfilling life for those living in a nursing home than living in their own homes!

To find out more, please do come and see us here at the Huntington & Langham Estate, where we can show you around and answer any questions you may have about the Butterfly approach and how it has the power to transform residents’ lives.