In 2012 the NHS launched Compassion in Practice, which was a new vision and strategy that set out 6 Cs of compassionate care.
These are all clearly vital features of good care, however I believe that in order to provide the ultimate person-centred care . . . which is what we should all be striving for . . . there are a few more Cs we could add.
As an Activity Co-ordinator for care homes in Boston UK, I enjoy a truly varied and exciting working day. It’s my job to make sure the individuals that live with us have plenty of opportunities to join in with a number of meaningful activities and enjoy an active lifestyle. To the outside world, my role might not really sound like traditional “care”, but I get to know our service users really well and activities really do have such a positive impact on their daily lives.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the NHS’s 6 Cs, because each day I see how meaningful activities really do make a massive difference to the people who live in our care home, and with that in mind I had a few thoughts on what else could make care truly person-centred.
Working in a person-centred care home one of the most important ingredients that positively impacts care, especially from the point of view of an Activity Co-ordinator, is creativity. The passion and originality to step outside the conventional box of compassionate care and make new and exciting experiences possible.
For example, with just a little expense, my team created an imaginary voyage on a cruise ship! It was a fantastic environment, fun, but extremely realistic. Service users stepped onto the cruise liner where they were welcomed by the Captain and a silver service of sparkling wine and fresh fruit platters. We had an outside deck area in the sun decorated with nautical tableware, wooden benches and big umbrellas. The sound of the ocean, sea gulls and an occasional ship sounding their horn all added to the experience. We created a “stateroom” where service users sat next to the fireplace and sipped on fine wine. Above the fireplace was a world map, postcards and other holiday memorabilia which helped spark many a memory of past holidays. We created a sea view cabin, and a dance floor area complimented by a variety of music.
As well as having a great time, all the care staff learnt so much more about our service users through this imaginative experience day. People who we felt we already knew pretty really well shared new memories of past holidays they had with friends and family and others found themselves recalling trips they hadn’t talked about for a very long time. These special details can help positively influence future activities.
Confidence is somewhat similar to the NHS’s criteria of Courage, but for me, courage is about entering into something without fully knowing what the outcome will be. Confidence is about having belief in yourself and the others around you that the ideas you have, the experience the service users will have and what you are doing will be a success and have a hugely positive impact on the lives of the people you care for. This belief allows you to really let go of inhibition and explore great things when working in a care home.
Our day on a cruise ship was a fabulous idea but making it a reality took hard work and belief that it would be successful. Our main objective was to encourage and support interaction and conversations between our colleagues, our service users, their friends, and relatives, and that’s exactly what happened with our first voyage. We really did take a trip down memory lane and the effort was definitely worth it.
Being supported by your colleagues is an absolute must for any idea to become a real care experience. It’s not only about having the support of the care assistants work on the floor in the care home all day; it’s about each and every member of staff jumping on board (literally) and having enthusiasm for an event or activity. It’s also about being encouraged by the home management to do what you believe will be successful.
Our events and activity planning doesn’t always run flawlessly, but it’s all about what happens on the day. And I am really proud to say that when it matters, all the team at our home really do come together as one to make sure our service users have the experience they deserve. Our first voyage saw everyone at the home – from the Home Manager to the Administrator, stepping into the shoes of cruise ship staff, and helping to make for a really great day. We are a team.
I believe we are doing things in our care homes that are forward thinking and really rewarding for our service users. We are living and working the 9 Cs of person-centred care.