Care homes champion winter wellbeing as companionship role takes off
A south coast care home provider has launched a dedicated team role to enable residents at its 20 homes enjoy each day as fully as possible.
Family-owned Colten Care has brought the functions of social carers and activity organisers together under one job description, Colten Companions.
The move is backed by training and development opportunities including plans for a bespoke vocational qualification.
For residents, families and colleagues, the new role offers the reassurance of a structured team of 80 Companions totally focused on creating daily plans that help residents foster friendships and fulfil their own interests and ambitions.
Companions work alongside Home Managers, nurses and other colleagues with everyone recognising that companionship can mean different things to different people. Shared interests, trips out, taking in events at the home, or simply having a calming conversation from a welcome face are all potential elements. Companions also co-ordinate the input of volunteers across the homes who bring in their own skills, passion and interests on behalf of residents.
The role of Companions has been specifically praised in a new report by industry regulator the CQC on Colten Care’s Linden House dementia care home in Lymington, Hampshire. Rating the home as ‘Outstanding’, the CQC wrote: “The home recognised and responded to people’s changing needs, including needs for social interaction and stimulation. People had access to a range of activities which they could choose to attend. People’s views about the home were listened to.”
Companionship Director Tim Wookey said: “We are putting companionship at the very heart of life in our homes. We now have a team whose sole responsibility is the breadth of companionship enjoyed by our residents, from one-to-one conversations to active trips out in groups. There is an element of making wishes come true based on what residents and families tell us. It could involve creating a once-in-a-lifetime experience such as a balloon ride, chance to play in an orchestra or visit to a favourite football club, all of which we’ve achieved for residents recently. Or a return to hobbies and pastimes that for whatever reason the resident has given up before they move to one of our homes. This could be gardening, cooking, exercise, arts and crafts – the range is endless, showing there is tremendous vibrancy and energy in a care home if you want it, not at all like being alone in a family home and feeling lonely.”
Given the season, one of the team’s first priorities is winter wellbeing and companionship over Christmas, with a series of home events, entertainment, lunches and pamper days involving community friends and contacts.
During 2018, Colten Companions estimate they will provide around 6,500 trips out for residents from Colten Care’s homes in Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire and Sussex. Most of these will be supported by the provider’s fleet of five, wheelchair-friendly minibuses whose drivers are all trained in first aid.
Discussions with Colten Care’s training partner Yeovil College are paving the way for the introduction of two levels of NVQs recognising the breadth of the Companionship role and scope for career development. The training package is expected to be finalised in March 2018.