I am absolutely delighted to announce that we have been awarded the National Best Nursing Team of 2020! I could think of a better way to recognise what the nurses at Valerie Manor have been doing keeping everyone safe. The awards had been delayed due to COVID and the decision was made to hold the awards online so that as many people as possible could watch. It was a lovely thing to do as we were able to invite all staff, residents and relatives who were so thrilled to be part of it.
Alan Dedicoat the Host was truly pleased for us having presented trophies to us from previous awards and the cheers that follow!
It is sad that we are not able to celebrate in our normal way however so proud of the Nursing Team – what an achievement!
Please do click on the link to view the 2020 Winners Book – we are on page 23!
Firstly, I hope all our friends and neighbours in the local community are keeping safe and well. It has been wonderful to see how everyone has pulled together during this time and I am so proud to be part of the local Community.
Life at Valerie Manor has been somewhat of a challenge, but I am pleased to say that throughout we have remained COVID free which is down to the award-winning team that we have.
I would like to take you on a journey to show that some care homes are ones to be proud of and do everything in their power to keep not only the residents safe but the staff and their families too.
From working as a teenager in a nursing home to qualifying as a nurse in 1996 and working my way up through the NHS as a staff nurse, ward sister, matron then General Manager to living my dream and purchasing Valerie Manor in 2008 I have never seen such challenging times for so many, especially in health and social care.
At the beginning of March, we started our COVID action plan when many care homes were still carrying on as normal. We embraced residents, relatives and staff on our journey in the decision making process as very often we didn’t have the answers due to this being such an unprecedented situation however every decision made was considered, reduced the risk as much as possible and I believe has played a huge part in keeping everyone safe.
We have tried to be one step ahead and plan for the ‘worst case’ scenario to be prepared for what may come. We started to purchase PPE prior to it becoming mandatory and over recruited in case we had staff who became unwell or were unable to care for our residents due to their own health.
In doing this we also helped some local companies and individuals to provide them with employment. This is my Theatre and Sussex Yacht Club – without these two local companies we may have been in a very different position, the staff became our friends and were much loved by the residents and everyone within the Valerie Manor family. Two staff from SYC have chosen to remain as permanent staff with us and Simon and Ethan (This is my Theatre) have already returned to perform for our residents.
Every step we have actioned recommendations both Nationally and Locally and been some of the first homes to have whole home testing and for some time now weekly testing of all staff and monthly testing of all residents.
Staff have been going at 100% throughout in difficult circumstances but have supported each other as well as the residents. We have regular Zoom meetings with staff and relatives to keep in touch and everyone is involved in writing our policies to make them suitable for everyone in our care.
We now have a ‘wellbeing coordinator’ and a very different way or working which has required us to utilise the individual skills that our staff have.
I must say a special mention to Debs and Lucy who became the Registered Manager and Deputy, respectively, in January this year…………..I could not have asked for better managers to lead the team.
There is so much to say and celebrate, we have had our work shared by the CQC, Care England and WSCC for our innovation – I won’t say we haven’t had challenges, tears and exhaustion but we have provided support to everyone both physically, emotionally and financially throughout through counselling and access to a staff BUPA Healthline through our Company.
I believe the team have shown and proved why they are ‘Outstanding’ and why they win so many awards.
I want to say a special thank you to all the staff at Valerie Manor and indeed all those working in Social care who have worked tirelessly to keep everyone safe.
Also, a thank you to our wonderful GP’s at Steyning Medical Practice, Mike, Lindsay and the team at Upper Beeding Pharmacy and the local community for their continued support to us here at Valerie Manor.
Below is some feedback that was sent directly to the CQC from a relative:
We are now facing further challenges as we move into Autumn and Winter and would like to seek help and sponsorship from the local community. As a small family run home we don’t have access to the grants and facilities that larger organisations have and would like to ask if there are any local Companies who would be able to design, build and sponsor a temporary unit to allow our residents to have a safe visit with their loved ones. As we are only small, we feel that a temporary external POD would be the way forward for our residents to continue to keep them safe and be able to see their loved ones.
If anyone would like to get involved and sponsor this much needed project then please do contact me on email@example.com or contact the home on 01903 812 105.
Valerie Manor provides safe and caring environment for all residents and staff do everything they can to sensitively yet efficiently look after all who live there. Staff take time to get to know each resident and their families, form enduring relationships with them and ensure everyone is treated professionally and empathically. The CQC Inspection of October 2017 recognised all of these qualities when Valerie Manor received a rating of Outstanding.
Let us remember this level of care can only be provided by careful and thoughtful planning and management and ensuring all staff have the right training and support to do their job competently. Zoe Fry, owner of Valerie Manor, has always been mindful of the need to support her staff on an emotional, as well as professional, level.
In 2014, in recognition of the emotional demands of the work, Zoe asked me to provide Reflective Practice group sessions for staff. These sessions have given staff the opportunity to come together and further support and understand each other. Valerie Manor is a small Care Home and staff frequently feel a real sense of grief and sadness at the loss of any resident. This can impact greatly and tap into personal losses staff may have experienced. The Reflective Practice sessions provide a safe space for feelings to be discussed.
Staff have also attended workshops to enhance and strengthen their interpersonal skills. Subjects have included Understanding Empathy, Building Emotional Resilience and Dealing with Dying and End of Life Care. All workshops are intended to support and care for staff emotionally, which will then enable them to deal with the inevitable challenges of their role.
In November 2019 Zoe approached me as she was keen to find further ways to support her staff and we agreed to plan sessions throughout 2020 which all staff would have the opportunity to attend. These sessions would focus on the importance of wellbeing and the need for us all to enhance our self care. People who work in the care sector are often very well equipped to look after others, but often not so good at looking after themselves!
Coincidentally in October 2019 The Care Workers Charity published a report entitled The Beating Heart of Care; supporting care workers better. Paying attention to the mental wellbeing of staff, creating a culture of wellbeing and building a supportive and appreciative workplace were all vital elements of the report, to which Valerie Manor is already attuned.
Our first Nurture Workshop took place on 2nd March and was attended by 6 staff and included both Nurses and Care Staff. We began with a visualisation to help everyone “arrive” and be fully present and went on to explore both the joys and demands of their roles. Staff were encouraged to think about their work/life balance and how to develop aspects of their own self care. They each completed a goal setting exercise to focus on one thing they could change to improve their self care, which could be physical, emotional or spiritual. We were served some delicious energising smoothies to finish the session. Staff responded very positively to the session and valued the time spent with colleagues as well as the time for self reflection.
Sadly, with Covid-19 further sessions now have to be put on hold for the moment, but hopefully we will be able to resume in the not too distant future. In the meantime, staff at Valerie Manor can access emotional support on an individual basis when needed.
If you need some ideas on how to increase your own self care have a look at the poster below.