RMBI home’s new sensory bathroom
RMBI care home Prince Michael of Kent Court in Watford has unveiled a new sensory bathroom in its dementia support house. An integrated Bluetooth sound system enables music to be played while bathing, with the aim of promoting well-being and contributing to the reduction of tension and anxiety. The bath also features a whirlpool to aid muscular relaxation. The decor includes a tiled mural of Brighton’s Palace Pier, incorporating yachts, lighthouses and a beach hut to help people connect with their past.
New perspectives on training
A pioneering technique in the way carers are trained has been revealed to journalists during a special session at RMBI care home Prince Michael of Kent Court in Watford
On 18 June, journalists from BBC Breakfast, Reuters and Radio 4 joined care home manager Elizabeth Corbett and her team to take part in the RMBI’s innovative training programme, Experiential Learning. The initiative puts carers in the shoes of their residents, helping them to understand what it might be like to live in a care home.
During the session, journalists were given the opportunity to experience some of the daily challenges faced by some 400,000 older people who live in care homes across the UK. Scenarios included being pushed in a wheelchair while blindfolded, receiving supported feeding to eat a meal, being hoisted from a seated position and wearing a wet incontinence pad.
An individual approach
The RMBI has practiced ‘person-centred’ care in its homes for a number of years. Adopting a person-centred perspective is a way of providing tailored care and support based on the resident’s point of view – ‘standing in their place’ and appreciating how they might be feeling. This is a very different approach from treating everybody in the same way and makes the care that RMBI provides individual to each resident.
Louise Bateman, Director of HR at the RMBI, explained how the need for specific training in this area was identified: ‘In 2014 we reviewed our recruitment and induction programmes for new care staff. We wanted to ensure that we were recruiting individuals not solely upon their technical skills or abilities, but on the basis of their values and attitudes to care.’
Bateman said that the RMBI realised it was important for its carers to have an empathic approach and to be able to step into the shoes of residents under their care. ‘We talked to recently joined carers as well as managers to develop our thinking.
From this we redesigned the induction programme to include the Experiential Learning initiative so that we could improve the quality of our service and provide residents with a deeper level of person-centred care,’ she continued.
The initiative has been in place for all new care staff in RMBI care homes since October 2014 – from nurses and activity coordinators through to carers and shift leaders. Plans to expand the training are also well underway, with additional scenarios to be included, such as brushing someone’s teeth.
Senior Care Trainer Nina Stephens, who led the Experiential Learning session, said: ‘This new way of training carers has already improved the lives of the people in our homes. It allows RMBI care staff to have a greater insight into some of the challenges faced by our residents. We feel that experiential learning should be adopted by the whole care sector, as part of the drive to raise care standards to the highest level.’
Easy as pie
RMBI residents across the UK took part in a variety of activities to mark British Pie Week, with tasting, baking and recipe-sharing sessions among the events. The RMBI places great importance on providing its residents with food that they grew up with and enjoy – as well as new dishes they have come to love – and its balanced, nutritious menus include classic pie dishes.
Recipes and Reminiscences, the RMBI cookbook, contains 50 favourite recipes from residents and staff. Many in the book were national staples in their era, including Woolton Pie, named after one of Churchill’s Cabinet.
A classic wartime dish, it encouraged people to use whatever vegetables were available to them during the rationing period to create family meals.
Debra Keeling, RMBI Deputy Director of Care Operations, said: ‘We strive to deliver a high quality of life for our residents, and providing enjoyable food and drink is essential to this. Our residents are encouraged to put their menu ideas forward to ensure we cater to their individual tastes. British Pie Week is a great way of bringing residents together through their mutual love of food.’
Investing in the future
RMBI care homes Queen Elizabeth Court in Llandudno and Prince Michael of Kent Court in Watford have been recognised with a prestigious award for their care of people living with dementia
The Butterfly Service status is a nationally recognised ‘kitemark’ awarded by Dementia Care Matters to identify care homes that are committed to delivering excellent dementia care and providing residents with a high quality of life.
Only a handful of care homes in the UK have been awarded the status, and Queen Elizabeth Court and Prince Michael of Kent Court now join four other RMBI care homes around the country to have received the award.
RMBI care homes Devonshire Court in Leicester, Shannon Court in Surrey, Barford Court in Hove and Prince Edward Duke of Kent Court in Essex have also received the Butterfly Service status.
Debra Keeling, RMBI Deputy Director of Care Operations, said, ‘To have been awarded the Butterfly Service status is testament to the dedication of our care home staff providing exceptional care. We have made a substantial investment in dementia care training for staff and hold regular events and initiatives for our residents as part of our drive to support their welfare and wellbeing.’
Debra believes that the award demonstrates the RMBI’s commitment to delivering innovative care techniques to maintain the highest quality of life for its residents, as well as putting solid foundations in place to continue to provide excellent care as the number of those with dementia increases over the next few years.
‘As a charity we have been working closely with Dementia Care Matters since 2009, and with a number of other specialist dementia providers to deliver our dementia care strategy,’ said Debra. ‘Dementia Care Matters works with care providers with the aim of improving the quality of life for residents of care homes – not only for those with dementia, but also for the other residents living in the same home.’
Connecting with cafe culture
A pioneering initiative by the RMBI is showing how reminiscence can play an integral part in dementia care
Previously underused space at Prince Michael of Kent Court in Watford has been developed into a café with a 1950s theme. It provides a relaxed and homely environment and has shown that people living with dementia, when given the right setting, are more able to participate in daily life activities.
The café aims to create familiarity. The decor and memorabilia help residents to recall memories, while also boosting interaction with other café users. The residents, staff and visitors contribute to its success by baking and holding events, to which all residents are invited. This has helped to break down the barriers between those living in the dementia support unit and those living in other parts of the home.
The idea for the café initially came from the home’s management team and an application was then made for a grant from the government’s dementia care pilot project. The project group consisted of residents, staff, visitors and a local contractor, and everyone had a part to play in its development, from choosing the wallpaper and furnishings, through to plumbing and decorating. Residents enjoyed helping out with key decisions and designing the new space.
Since opening the café in April 2014, the impact has been remarkable. Alan Russell, whose aunt is a resident at the home, said, ‘The new café is wonderful. It provides a peaceful area for visitors and residents to relax in a homely environment.’
As the Universities Scheme recruits younger members, Caitlin Davies reports on how older Freemasons are staying involved in the Craft
Three years ago, Steward Philip Hadlow heard some interesting news. Plans were afoot for a new lodge in Bedfordshire, one that would be geared towards keeping elderly Freemasons involved in the Craft.
‘The Provincial Grand Master, Michael Sawyer, and the provincial team realised we were not doing enough for our more elderly brethren,’ he explains. ‘Many have mobility problems, which means it’s difficult getting to meetings. We were looking after them when they were ill, supporting their family, but there was a need for something more proactive.’
In recent years Freemasonry has been keen to recruit younger members, but that doesn’t mean elders should be forgotten. And so Bedfordshire’s youngest lodge, the Michael Sawyer Lodge of Reunion No 9848, was born. Philip became involved because he thought it a ‘fantastic idea’.
The lodge began in 2009 and meets twice a year on a Saturday lunchtime, as some people are not keen to eat late or to go out at night at all. Philip doesn’t know of any similar scheme, and there’s been interest in the project from other Provinces.
While some members were already being picked up and taken to meetings by younger members, the lodge wanted to do more. So people were identified, sent invitations and offered travel arrangements – in some cases for a fifty-mile round trip.
‘When they come out with a smile on their face and say, “Thank you so much, I’ve had a wonderful time”, that’s what it’s all about’ Philip Hadlow
The lodge doesn’t do masonic work – meetings open with a welcome, then a lecture and the Festive Board. One of the annual meetings is held in Luton, the other in another Bedfordshire centre.
John Cathrine, Provincial Information Officer, is a founder member of the Michael Sawyer Lodge and last year’s Worshipful Master. ‘It’s such a great idea. It’s something that was missing from our Province. People get to the stage where they can’t drive to meetings and they drift away from masonry.’
Not forgotten, never sidelined
John cites a past Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Vic Lawrence, who lives at Prince Michael of Kent Court, a Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution care home. ‘He came to the previous meeting and he wanted to make a speech at the Festive Board. He said it was really great to be invited and see old friends, all of whom he said looked older than him!’
Freemasonry in Bedfordshire traces its history back to at least 1841, when the Bedfordshire Lodge of St John the Baptist was consecrated in Luton. By the time the Province celebrated its centenary, there were forty-five lodges; there are now fifty-five.
At the last meeting of the Lodge of Re there were sixty people, including twenty honoured guests. ‘It takes time to get something like this off the ground,’ says Philip, who was Chief Steward for two years, ‘but it’s getting bigger every meeting.’
Lodge members pay annual dues to cover being a member and having two guests. ‘It’s funded until the honoured guests outnumber us two to one. It means we can treat them well. You see them sitting there opposite their friends, and they’re having a whale of a time. When they come out with a smile on their face and say, “Thank you so much, I’ve had a wonderful time”, that’s what it’s all about.’
John is delighted by the letters of thanks that the lodge receives. ‘One brother is ninety-five and not able to get out much. We’ll invite him to the next meeting for a nice day out. The letters we get say the principles and ethos of the lodge are exactly in line with what we should be doing – taking care of those who could be sidelined and forgotten.’