The Covid-19 pandemic is presenting many challenges for care homes worldwide. Here we look at how L&M Healthcare is riding the storm and keeping life in our homes as normal as possible for our residents.
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 >
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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
Staff did manicures
Staff became hairdressers
Staff became musical entertainers
Staff taught residents dance moves
Staff even created the idea for online musical sessions
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.
For events like Easter, Mothering Sunday and VE day, staff dressed up, baked cakes, decorated our homes and much more.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’
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
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.
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, as the days of the pandemic lengthen and the R number decreases, we intend to still remain vigilant, our homes and gardens will still be closed to visitors and our staff will carry on. 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.
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.
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.
Yes, the place is absolutely gorgeous, absolutely fabulous and very tastefully done.
It’s good really, like a first class hotel for me, that’s my thoughts.
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.
I’d be happy to put either of my parents in here.
There’s space for people to sit around and have their own time. Absolutely stunning.
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.
Well. It’s just beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. Whoever’s built it has done a damn good job!
Lovely, just like a five star hotel.
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.
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.
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 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.
It’s very impressive, obviously finished to a very high standard, very roomy, yes am mightily impressed.
Must be one of the nicest places I’ve ever seen!