A Tale of Change: A New Outlook In A Sutton Coldfield Care Home

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A Tale of Change: A New Outlook In A Sutton Coldfield Care Home

24 Nov 2023 | Category: Blog
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Shirley Bassey’s “Hey Big Spender” strains drift out from the kitchen.  Sitting at the kitchen table Janet is reaching her big crescendo, and Gillian is dancing behind her. Janet had moved into her new home that week and was being welcomed with a party that afternoon. The pair descend into laughter as the song ends. Manager Mikey can’t help but join in.

It wasn’t always like this at the care home in a leafy street in the Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield. Lisieux Trust supports adults with autism and learning disabilities. In July 2022, Lisieux Trust took the care home on as part of its portfolio; if the trust hadn’t taken the care home on, it would have been forced to close as it had just failed its inspection from the regulator of adult social care, the Care Quality Commission (CQC). CQC had issued a closure notice on the previous provider at the care home because the eight individuals living there were receiving inadequate care.

The CQC Report at the time stated that the service was not safe and that residents were at risk, including that “The provider could not demonstrate how the service met the principles of right support, right care, right culture.”

Fast forward a year and it’s a very different story.

Now that they are supported by Lisieux Trust, each of the residents in the home has a tale of positivity to share, whether they were there in the past or, like Janet, are recent arrivals -. Ellie, who now identifies as a female, sees her radiant smile light up the room as she talks about her newfound freedom. “I get to do what I like, wear the clothes I like, and be myself, I’ve been vegetarian and vegan, and the staff help with that. My workers don’t shout at me all the time for nothing,” she exclaims. “I’ve even been to loads of concerts!” Ellie dreams of having Taylor Swift as her carer, she laughs.

Perhaps the resident to feel the most change, though, is John, a man in his late 60s. When Lisieux Trust took over the home he was restricted to a pound a day as his money was controlled by the previous provider. . He now manages his own money with the help of staff; Lisieux Trust have restored John’s right to make decisions about his own money. Ironically, he’s the last resident we are able to speak to on our visit, as he’s out in town shopping. When he returns, he proudly shows his haul for the morning – a Spider-Man figure: “I love superheroes and the staff are helping me decorate my room with Marvel Characters” he smiles. John, who is asthmatic was in a bedroom on the top floor – a situation that immediately changed when Lisieux Trust took over because it was causing John anxiety: “It’s great here now”, he affirms. “Everyone treats me so much better, and I can breathe without worrying. And in an echo of what Ellie had told us, he reflects on the calmer atmosphere. “No one shouts at me anymore, they used to hold me down and I didn’t like it,” he says. This has improved his mental health.

Both of these situations contrast wildly with the CQC report, dated 3rd August 2022, which said: “The service did not support people to have the maximum possible choice, independence or have control over their own lives.”

Debbie, who has been at the care home for four years, reflects on the positive changes. “It’s better now,” she nods, content. “I like my new room.” Her eyes sparkle as she mentions the disco she attends weekly with her boyfriend, fellow resident, Ben. “I love my new room and my carpet,” she adds with a hint of pride.

For Ben himself, it’s about increased independence, he enjoys his Wednesday trips to Sutton Coldfield Town Centre, and has found a sense of belonging in the care home. “The atmosphere here is really nice now, a lot nicer than before,” he says, smiling. “Denise [Denise Barrett, the Registered Manager] and Mikey [who manages the day-to-day] are lovely, and the food is really nice too.” He chuckles as he adds that he always buys a paper and a soaps magazine during his outings. “I love all the soaps,” he confirms. I watch them all.”

And what of the two singing ladies? Well, Gillian can’t hide her delight as she talks about her recent upgrades. “I’ve got a new telly, a dressing table, and I love watching Matilda,” she says with a gleeful twinkle in her eye. “Oh, and Mrs. Brown’s Boys! I can’t get enough of it.” Janet, immersed in her iPad, from where that Shirley Bassey tune had blared from YouTube an hour or so before, shares her perspective as a recent arrival. “Everyone is nice,” she says, her fingers gliding across the screen. It’s clear that technology has become a vital part of her life, and the care home has embraced this, providing Janet with a space where she feels comfortable and valued.

A member of Trust staff who worked for the previous provider was a mixture of scathing and incredulous as they attempted to explain what it was like to work for them. “It was a terrible environment for most of the staff,” they recall, “But it was worse for the residents, of course.” They recall the restrictions that the previous provider put in place which limited the resident’s freedom and affected their quality of life.  Put simply, they say, ‘It wasn’t right.”

Neither, according to the Support Worker, was the attitude to repairs in the home. “All the rooms were en-suite, but any repairs just weren’t done. One of the residents had a broken shower, nothing ever happened to fix it. In the end, she couldn’t shower properly.”

The decor of the building came under fire too: “It was so old! It had all been brought at auctions and so on, everything was Victorian. Nothing was modern. Nothing felt like it was brought with the residents in mind.”

Although the Care Home was clean: “Me and the other support workers I was with made sure it was, even if no one else cared” the former staffer had said,

CQC had observed in their report that the “Service did not have enough appropriately skilled staff to meet people’s needs and keep them safe. One member of staff worked at the care home for the previous provider and now works there under Lisieux Trust; spanning the old and new era. As such she is in a unique position to reflect on the transformation. “There’s been so much positive change,” she observes. “Before, we were often left to ourselves.” Now, she, like the residents she supports, enjoys a better environment, one that respects her individuality and provides the support and training she needs.

Speaking with Manager Mikey Gavin, who has been part of the team that led the change in both culture and living standards, it’s evident how determined he was to turn things around. “None of the bedrooms were person-centred when we started,” he shares. “We replaced filing cabinets with cupboards, fixed broken beds, and introduced more comfortable beds for the residents here.”

Lisieux Trust’s transformation of the failing home did not happen by magic. Rather it was a lot of hard work underpinned by their guiding principle: “We believe our people should live life as they choose, full of things they love to do. We are on a journey together and we are dedicated to supporting our people to thrive.” And slowly but surely the residents in this care home are finding out there is another, better, way.

Indeed, no one is better placed to reflect on that than the former member of staff who has worked for the previous provider. Disillusioned, they resigned, left care for a spell before taking a job with Lisieux Trust. Now they say things are different: “When I think back to how it was when I was there, and when I’ve been back there now, it’s like night and day.”

Decent living standards and compassionate care are the very least anyone should expect of course, but for the residents in one care home, as they get ready for the afternoon party they have planned, it feels like a different world.

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