How L&M Healthcare approached the Covid-19 pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic is presented many challenges for care homes worldwide. Here we look at how L&M Healthcare rode the storm and kept life in our homes as normal as possible for our residents. 

The supply of PPE and other vital equipment

Well before the pandemic hit the UK, L&M Healthcare were already preparing for its arrival and even before government guidelines were issued to us, we were researching what we would need to do in order to protect our homes.

When lots of care homes struggled to get PPE, how did L&M Healthcare manage to find it in abundance?

From the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the supply and availability of PPE was a bone of contention and it has been a regular news item ever since. As panic set in and those care homes that weren’t adequately prepared made desperate pleas for help, L&M Healthcare were never short of supply.  Read More >

Closing our homes, gardens and carparks to visitors

Before any government guidelines were issued, we were the first in the region to close all our homes to visitors. As the entire country was put on lockdown and people were only allowed to go out once a day to exercise, we also closed our gardens and carparks to visitors with the aim of preventing gatherings forming on the premises. It was understandable that relatives wanted to catch a glimpse of their family member through the windows. But it was high risk to both our residents and those gathering in the gardens to allow this to continue.

Informing our resident’s families

At every step change we have been in communication with families and staff, each time receiving a letter detailing any changes or advice. Information has also been posted to our website and Facebook pages. Keeping people informed is an essential part of managing peoples expectations and helping to aid infection control. Everyone is missing their families, but everyone understands the importance of following the strict guidelines imposed.

A question and answer post were added to our website and Facebook pages, dealing with popular queries on how things such as toiletries and other special items could be arranged for residents.

We trained our staff extensively

With all our homes closed to external visitors, the head office senior management team also restricted their visits. Unless absolutely necessary, they did not visit and when they did, their visits were restricted to one area in the home reception only.  

We created an extensive COVID -19 checklist to ensure that all that needed to be done to conform to government guidelines was done, and as the guidelines changed this was also updated. It was very important to us to ensure that throughout the pandemic and the extreme emotional working environment that all care being delivered was and still is being delivered as required.

Staff had to be trained to fully understand how to protect both themselves and residents. Many new staff were joining, and induction training was in high demand. We ran all training sessions via Zoom, an internet based video conferencing facility. In doing this we were not only able to reduce the number of journeys undertaken we were also able to accommodate more sessions into a working day and complete the training schedule on track.

We created a new version of our logo to promote a ‘stay safe’ message

Stay safe. Stay well graphic

We incorporated the now increasingly popular ‘rainbow’ graphic into our logo along with a Stay Safe and Stay Well message, as a constant reminder to people, to be mindful of their actions and to follow the rules. This now appears on our website and at the foot of all email communications. It has also been posted on the glass of our front doors.

We enabled residents to communicate with their families in new ways

Phone and video calls

To enable our families to stay in touch, we quickly established a process to book Facetime or What’s app video and telephone calls. These became an invaluable and essential lifeline. We purchased more tablet devices to enable this and even had some gifted by kind benefactors.

We were soon asked for daily photographs of our residents and posted them on Facebook for families to enjoy.

Residents and families alike had to learn to use new technology and our Facebook followers started to grow significantly. It was soon apparent that Facebook had become a very important connection between resident’s families and our homes.

* see footnote at end of page regarding the wearing of masks. 

Talking Postcards

We also became inventive with our communications and created Talking Postcards, a video of residents sending a message to loved ones of their choice. These were hugely popular, not only a way of sending a message and a lovely memento to keep hold of forever too, but also as an activity to dress up for and take part in.

Message Boards

We recruited staff made redundant from the hospitality sector

As lockdown hit, and many people were furloughed or lost their jobs entirely we saw this as a good opportunity to help both those out of work, and to find support for staff in our homes. As we began to lose a number of staff due to having to self-isolate. (Remember, if a staff member has one other family member who show symptoms they had to self-isolate too, so we could be short staffed at a moment’s notice and at any time.)

LM Healthcare recruitment

There was understandably a shortage of carers looking for work. So, we set about recruiting those people with transferable skills to offer. This brought a wealth of talent into our homes; hairdressers, chefs, customer service executives, dancers and many more. All became invaluable in helping to deliver daily activities and a sense of normal life for our residents. We gained some wonderful new staff members, some real characters who residents took to straight away.

We kept our residents active and engaged

With no visitors allowed, this also meant no outside entertainers or other events such as artists workshops could take place. Our staff became carers, friends, instructors in social media and entertainers. While we made good use of online services, staff became the main source of entertainment.

Staff staged talent shows

* see footnote at end of page regarding the wearing of masks. 

Staff did manicures

Staff became hairdressers

* see footnote at end of page regarding the wearing of masks. 

Staff taught residents dance moves

* see footnote at end of page regarding the wearing of masks. 

Staff even created the idea for online musical sessions

* see footnote at end of page regarding the wearing of masks. 

We wrote a series of radio plays for residents to take part in.

We had a series of radio play specially written that starred residents aged between 83 and 99 all of whom had never done anything like this before. The plays were called The Haharcher’s a spoof of the Radio Four classic ‘The Archers’ but with an added comedic dimension. They were set in a care home and were based on fictitious residents’ views of the comings and goings – putting two and two together and making five. 

The plays captured the interest of local radio stations, and several stations even aired them as a weekly series. They also made it onto BBC Radio Lancashire’s breakfast show with presenter Graham Lyner saying, ‘Episode one had a better ending than Line of Duty!’ It also featured in a three-page article in the Care Home Environment Magazine.

We produced special request radio shows for all our homes

Following the local radio interest of The Haharchers, a radio programme called TDW – The Dementia Word approached us for an interview about how we managed to pull off the production of the plays during the pandemic. This led to an offer by one of the TDW team members to do a special request radio show and has eventually led to a special channel called Family Favourites Radio being set up who now produce special request radio shows for any care homes specialising in dementia care.

Our relatives’ families were contacted and asked to send in special requests, the show’s producer Paul Sparrey along with Mezzo soprano Flo Taylor created the shows especially for us, some lasting nearly three hours. We played them in our homes and sent families a link so that they could join in at the same time. We put on a special afternoon tea complete with Prosecco and fabulous home-baked cupcakes.

Residents read stories for their grandchildren, on video

Our ‘Jillanory ‘series of video stories were read by residents and launched to coincide with Grandparents Day in 2021. We commissioned bespoke illustrations and edited them to the audio recordings and created a video series so they could be played to residents’ grandchildren and be kept as a lasting memento. We also posted them on our social media channels as a way of sharing with our wider audience and for ease of access for their families.

Miss Moppet
Tale of two mice

We forget you not

Sadly, despite our very best efforts, we had to say goodbye to some of our residents and staff members due to the pandemic. We will never forget them, and in their memory, we are in the process of creating memorials in all our homes throughout the group. At Whittle Hall and Gainsborough House in Warrington we ran ceramic workshops in collaboration with local artists where residents and staff created these beautiful memorials. They were unveiled at memorial services held in the homes as restrictions started to lift. Whittle Hall’s memorial was a finalist in the Design in Mental Health Awards, Art Installation of the Year category.

Mayor unveils memorial plaque at Whittle Hall in Warrington
Mayor unveils memorial plaque at Whittle Hall in Warrington
Gainsborough House Unveil Memorial clock
Gainsborough House Unveil Memorial clock

Staff wearing PPE was a little scary for some residents at first

Wearing PPE made staff difficult to recognise,  and a little scary for some residents living with dementia, so staff pinned their photographs to their uniforms making it easier for residents to know who they were.

Staff made an extra special effort for events

For events like Easter, Mothering Sunday and VE day, staff dressed up, baked cakes, decorated our homes and much more.

* see footnote at end of page regarding the wearing of masks. 

For Mother’s Day, we bought a specially recorded message for all the mothers in our homes. They were sung to by popular singer and musician Dominic Halpin.

The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

What a joyous occasion for everyone. We marked 70 years of her majesty on the throne with some fabulous outdoor garden parties. With restrictions lifted this was the first time we had been able to do outdoor parties for over two years. It was an incredibly emotional event. Residents, their families, and our staff were so excited. Staff put everything into making this a huge celebration. Head office gave all homes a generous budget to make sure the parties went with a swing.

* see footnote at end of page regarding the wearing of masks. 

Valentine’s Day

Our homes were flooded with love on Valentine’s Day when we #sharedthelove for everyone living, working, and supporting all our homes. In 2022 we received lots of request which were all made into a Love Fest of a radio show with our friends Paul Sparrey and Flo Taylor at Family Favourites Radio and streamed through TV’s and handheld devices in all our homes with links posted on facebook so people could catch up later if they missed it. We shared over 200 posts across our facebook pages so everyone could see the messages we received. We also shared photos of all the activities that had been going on the week before, making and sending cards, positivity messages, salt dough decorations, cookies, photo booths, romantic films, chocolate, and sweet treats too.

Valentines day 2022 promotion
Valentines day 2022 Facebook post

Staff made full use of the outdoors

We were really lucky with the weather and staff made great use of our outdoor balconies and garden areas for impromptu parties, cocktails and other activities.

* see footnote at end of page regarding the wearing of masks. 

We played our part in the Nation’s efforts to thank the NHS

As the country began to clap for the NHS, our staff and residents did so too

We joined the nation in supporting ‘Captain TOM’

For International Nurses Day we thanked all our Nurses

We thanked each of our Nurses with a special Facebook post about them and the job they do for us on International Nurses day, and we even got some of them a Thank you on Granada Reports too. 

International nurses day

Our staff’s children became part of our family and played their part to entertain our residents

We involved the children of our staff to keep them busy and to entertain our residents. For Easter they created messages, artworks and videos that we then flooded our Facebook pages with and residents loved watching.

We sent letter of thanks to the children and gave them some treats

We did a series of interviews with them too

‘Ever wondered what your children think you do at work?’  A few secrets were revealed, and staff had the opportunity to discuss with them and help them to understand what they were doing at work and how important it was.

As the Nation started to include carers in their clapping, our children clapped for our staff too.

We recognised the tremendous efforts of our staff

As the weeks went by, and the pandemic peaked, the job got really tough, we saw some really amazing efforts from our staff, who were going above and beyond the call of duty.

To recognise those efforts, we created three awards schemes;

Employee of the month

Awarded to one person from each home, each month who has worked in an exemplary way.

GEM Awards

Awarded to those people the home manger feels are Going the Extra Mile above and beyond the call of duty

Hero of the Month Awards

Awarded to the one person who has truly shone out from the crowd, not only going the extra mile, but doing something extraordinary, our very own ‘Captain Tom’

We raised our pay rates above the National Living Wage for all our team members and in some roles increased them significantly above the going rate. We also gave team members their birthday off as an extra free holiday and had free pizza and takeaways delivered when times had been particularly tough, and they deserved a treat. We gave everyone a generous bonus at Christmas as well as small gift. For anyone struggling to come to terms with the effects of the pandemic we offered a counselling service. 

Throughout the pandemic we ensured all our staff kept up with the necessary training and that those who wanted to progress, still had the opportunity to do further training. We also set up and launched our own L&M Healthcare Academy which aims to train our future home managers.   

* see footnote at end of page regarding the wearing of masks. 

We nominated some of our team members for National awards.

We were so proud to have 31 finalists at the Great British Care Awards in 2021 and Madhu Reddy, Home Manager at Finney House in Preston, came home a winner in the Front-Line leader category. The ceremony, which was held at the Kimpton Clock Tower Hotel, Manchester, followed a three-course dinner to which all our finalists were treated. They had a fabulous night complete with luxury travel and fizz on ice.

A celebrity filled Father’s Day 

Three months into lockdown it was Father’s Day. Our homes, had been closed to visitors for over three months at this point, so lots of activities were planned by staff to help this day really special.  To put the icing on the cake, we put out feelers to see if we could get a couple of celebrities to send in video selfies to help make it that little bit more special and create an opportunity to reminisce. 

We were expecting perhaps one or two, but secretly hoping for five – one for each home.  But what happened was amazing, we received 25!!! Celebrities such as; 60’s pop sensation The Bachelors, actress and Loose Women star Denise Welch, former Emmerdale star John Middleton, Rugby Super League player and TV Commentator Robbie Paul, Professional Golfer Bernard Gallacher OBE, Robert Maxfield, Chief Executive of the PGA, Chairman of Warrington Wolves Stuart Middleton and West End star Joanna Ampil all sent in video selfies.

We posted the videos on our Facebook page and then streamed them into our homes via their TV sets so residents could enjoy them. They were thrilled. 

The Bachelors even invited us to a ZOOM session in the afternoon, with an opportunity to share stories from their life. They gave our residents a special mention at the start of the session and played the video they had made specially for us. To see all the videos check out our Facebook page @lmhealthcare

We got even more creative for Mother’s and Father’s Days 2021/2022

As the pandemic lengthened and visiting restrictions remained in place we stepped up a gear on very special event days like Mother’s Days and Father’s Days. We used a multi digital approach to producing special features that highlighted how special and well thought of our mothers and fathers were. We created themed events such a Miraculous Mother Figures and My Dad’s Life’s Work which gave families the opportunity to research and reminisce about the life of their parents and our friends at Family Favourites Radio show also produced special request radio shows to go along with them for us. My dad’s Life Work our Father’s Day initiative in 2021 won a care home awards for Best Multi Digital Channel Communication 2022.

Miraculous Mother Figures Day

We launched a singing competition for Residents and Staff to take part

As a spoof of the 90’s TV show, we launched our own ‘Stars in Our Eyes’ and posted video performances to our Facebook pages inviting followers to vote for who they want to win. To give the videos that extra bit of polish, we also created graphics and added crowd noises.

We even managed to open Kitwood House in Rudheath, Cheshire in August 2021

Despite the pandemic we still managed to build, fit out and open our 6th home, Kitwood House – a centre excellence in dementia care, without losing one day’s work and won a highly prestigious Knight Frank Award for its design. Our sister company DBS who design and build all our homes, also won a Care Sector Supplier Award for this feat. Kitwood House also featured in a three-page article in The Care Home Environment magazine for its advanced technology in infection control and opened its doors to residents in August 2021. 

Kitwood House entrance
Kitwood House is a multi award winning home

We became proud parents to the cutest ducklings

Residents at Whittle Hall in Warrington waited with bated breath for five little ducklings to be born. From hatching them in an incubator to making a home for them in the central courtyard these little ducklings lifted the spirits of the entire home and encouraged residents who had previously never been outside to go into the central courtyard to watch them. They had hours of fun watching them splash around on water mats and in their paddling pool and helping to feed and care for them.

One of our staff made it into The National Portrait Gallery

Jill Bowler, a member of staff from Hulton House in Preston, made it into the final 100 photos in HOLD STILL, a portrait of our nation 2020 photographic exhibition at the National Gallery. 31,000 entires were submitted so this really was quite an achievement. The exhibition, which is spearheaded by the Duchess of Cambridge, Patron of the National Portrait gallery is a community project which aims to capture the spirit, mood, hopes, fears and feelings of the Nation as it deals with the Covid 19 pandemic.

At L&M Healthcare we do not rest on our laurels, we intend to still remain vigilant throughout our homes. Our teams still doing the brilliant job they have been doing all along, with the full support of the senior management team, and together we will all be ok.

Please note: Some of the footage included on this page where team members are not wearing masks indoors was taken at the beginning of the pandemic and before this was made compulsory. Our team members are still required to wear masks indoors.

  • Its amazing, so much thought has gone into this.

  • There’s space for people to sit around and have their own time. Absolutely stunning.

  • Yes this home is like a 5* Hotel and the care is also 5*, my mum was in here for respite and the care she received was wonderful.

  • The care my father has received has been second to none. I cannot thank you enough for the work you do. You are a shining example of how a nursing home should be run.

  • He settled in quickly and everyone loved him.

  • The staff are lovely and the facilities are second to none.

  • I would recommend this care home to anybody. The facilities are great, the staff are excellent, efficient and very caring – deserves 1st prize in the awards.

  • Wow, this place is amazing.

  • Must be one of the nicest places I’ve ever seen!

  • Yes, the place is absolutely gorgeous, absolutely fabulous and very tastefully done.

  • I’m just blown away to be honest with you. I’ve never seen a place like it in my life. It looks good from the outside even. When you come inside it’s like walking in heaven and that’s where I’ll be when I come here.

  • Well. It’s just beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. Whoever’s built it has done a damn good job!

  • It’s very impressive, obviously finished to a very high standard, very roomy, yes am mightily impressed.

  • It’s good really, like a first class hotel for me, that’s my thoughts.

  • He loved the food. He had two lunches most days and a cooked breakfast!

  • Yes. I could live here quite happily. Yes. I’m 76 years old and my husband is 82. We don’t live very far away so it would be like a real home from home.

  • I’d be happy to put either of my parents in here.

  • This is the most beautiful home with the most caring staff, and excellent management. This should be the blue print for all care homes and I feel so lucky to have found it.

  • The facilities, food, activities, cleanliness etc are all as you would expect from a first class care home. We are really impressed and we would have no hesitation in recommending you.

  • My husband was in for respite, it was relief to leave him somewhere so safe.

  • This is an outstanding care home with friendly and approachable staff. On a first impression it reminds me of a five star hotel. My grandma settled in from day one!

  • I’ve never seen anything like it.

  • Lovely, just like a five star hotel.