Care Homes by Derek Barron. Director of Care, Erskine.
After 32 years working in the NHS, latterly as Associate Nurse Director/Lead Nurse, I left last year and joined Erskine (aka Erskine Hospital).
So six/seven months into post what can I share, what have I learnt and what is next?
Firstly a little about Erskine, what made me want to go and work there – “it is Scotland’s foremost provider of care for veterans and their spouses, Erskine offers unrivaled nursing, residential, respite and dementia care in our four homes throughout Scotland for UK veterans”. OK, that’s the corporate lines, but what’s it really like?
Well, let me tell you – it’s a dynamic environment which focuses on rehabilitation; the maximising of our residents abilities.
Care is founded on relationships, with an underpinning human rights approach.
More corporate jargon? What does that really mean?
It means we strive to maximise the choices available to our residents – that’s my experience thus far, it not corporate speel, it’s what makes me proud to be the Director of Care (but that also brings me great responsibility to maintain and develop from a strong foundation).
So what is it like being a part of the Erskine team? I never worked somewhere that is perfect, and I still don’t, we know we can continue to develop and innovate. But, if I ever have to go into a care home I would have liked it to have been Erskine – unfortunately I don’t meet the admission criteria (service in the armed forces of spouse of service person – see website for full details). If you can say you would happy see your loved one, or be admitted yourself to your own ward, or be treated in your own department/area then you’ve a good foundation to build from – I wish I’d know about Erskine’s admission criteria years ago, my mum would have been happy there.
Erskine is somewhat unique in the range of care opportunities we have on offer, 18 different care roles – five of these roles are within the AHP family, there will be few places outwith the NHS that can offer the range of career opportunities.
Physiotherapy, where we support the physical well-being of our residents – whether that’s exercises to support fitness, stamina or strength or assessment related to mobility and safe seating our physiotherapists, physio assistants and physio volunteers provide critical input to the daily lives of our residents.
We are also fortunate in having a Speech and Language team (SALT) where swallowing and communication needs are assessed and interventions planned, by the SALT therapist, the SALT assistants and the SALT volunteers.
Our podiatrist is a key member of the team – keeping residents mobile and safe (e.g. falls prevention) is enhanced and supported by having well cared for feet. Being able to provide on-site care means greater responsiveness and personal attention than if we had to rely on a visiting service.
Two roles not yet included in the structure infograph (above) are our stand alone ‘podiatrists’ and our soon to be advertised Practice Development Nurse role.
A diverse and exciting range of career opportunities in care – perhaps many of which people outwith the care home setting may not have realised were available.
Other things that make Erskine unique:
We use electronic records throughout all four of our Homes – so whether a resident is in our Edinburgh Home or along the corridor from me in my office in Bishopton, I can access and input to their activity record, careplan, or falls prevention plans etc. I can review incidents and looked for shared learning. Our reports to the Care Inspectorate are done electronically, as are our self assessments, the results of investigations and of complaints.
Of significance, related to our care planning/recording tool is our ability to enter information via mobile devices. We use Samsung tablets (don’t get me started on Samsungs though!, nor on the limitations of our actual software system), but both are adequate for us to be mobile and not tied to office computers. This in turn means more time spent with residents and an eventual aim of data input along with residents.
Not content only with eCare records we also have an eMedication system in one of our Homes. We plan to look at a process of rolling out the system to our other three Homes this year after a successful implementation at The Erskine Home – well, when I say successful, it was successful on the second bite of that particular cherry. We were within a couple of weeks of binning the system, but with a lot of direct support from the software system designers we were able to identify set-up and unresolved training issues, (leading to a system initially showing 200+ errors when I first took up post to now showing zero errors for over three months). Staff are confident, it saves them time and supports us in ensuring the right medication is given by the right route, to the right residents at the right time.
Our digital ambitions don’t stop there – during 2017 and beyond we will continue to look at digital opportunities that support staff development, effectiveness and efficiency. But we’re also keen to find digital opportunities that enhance the health and well-being of our residents – some residents already use Facetime/Skype, email and Facebook – they remain at the forefront of our endeavours, they are the reason Erskine exists – and they are the reason that I can say we are ‘proud to care’.