I have not had much experience of care homes previously so I wasn’t sure what to expect when Gil Ramsden, Care Sector Lead for NHS England (North) and one of the Transforming Perceptions of Nursing and Midwifery Ambassadors, invited us to join her on a visit to WCS Castlebrook care home in Kenilworth.

My Horizons colleague Rosie Redstone and I were there to learn more about how we can engage nurses from the care sector to become ambassadors and to join in with the 30 Day Challenges. We were also here to support Gil to run the first Breaking the Rules session, which is the August challenge, with care sector leads, nurses, and care home directors. The group was the first to trial the ‘Break the Rules' session: the feedback was extremely positive and the group felt like they had gained a lot from taking part and had fun. 

The ‘Break the Rules’ session was all about coming together and discussing if the group had the chance to break, challenge or change any rules in service of a better experience or outcome for patients and staff, what would it be? We discussed what "Permissions" do we want to grant to enable us to offer a better experience or outcome for patients and staff?

The group had some great debates and came up with some excellent ideas on the rules they would like to break. The energy was really positive and remained so throughout the session. Bureaucracy was a definite challenge that the group wanted to change and overcome! Action plans were made with ways to overcome and 'Break the Rules'. Please do look out for Gil’s blog which captures the session further.

We were also fortunate to get a tour of the home from Ed and Jo, their heads of marketing. It has shops, a cinema, spa, recreation areas, dining facilities, outdoor spaces, and an Innovation Hub which showcases the home's latest technology. The ethos of Castlebrook care home as explained by Ed Russell, director of innovation and delivery, is to give residents the ‘feeling of freedom’.

Many of the residents have dementia; the home has so many innovative ideas to help those with dementia, for example they have recently invested in circadian lighting systems. The lights have helped to reset sleeping patterns for residents. This has deceased levels of frustration for residents with dementia. There is also a monitoring system within each resident’s room which can track sleep and also keep track on residents' health statistics e.g. pulse rate. It’s also helping to improving the amount of sleep for poorly residents as they can be monitored without being disturbed. 

The resident areas are decorated with movie pictures from the 50’s and photos of TV stars from the 50’s and 60’s. Two residents where watching Judy Garland music videos whilst enjoying their elevenses. All these prompts are wonderful ways for people with to dementia to stir up memories and express feelings.

My Nan had dementia; she passed away in 2013. It really struck a chord with me how much more we can help dementia patients. Dementia is such a cruel disease: the care, respect, compassion and innovation to help residents suffering with the illness was outstanding. I would have felt very confident if my Nan had gone into to care at such a home at WCS that she would have been cared for brilliantly.

The monitoring system is also helping prevent falls, because it alerts a member of staff when a resident is attempting to get out of bed at night time, so they can be safely assisted.

The home also encourages carers to help to assist residents to spend more time outdoors. Castlebrook have a variety of outdoor amenities including walking trails, a garden area, water features and a two person bike which had we had more time I would have definitely asked to go for a spin on!

The home runs using a back stage and onstage concept. “Backstage” the staff are ensuring the home functions as a care home, e.g. cleaning and admin duties. And “onstage” the residents are presented with a lay out that reminded me of a holiday village: the store room is set out like a shop, the washing room is presented like a launderette ‘Super Suds’ complete with a coin operated machine for the authentic experience. The hairdressing room is set up as a well-established salon complete with a spinning barber shop sign. I was so impressed with the Spa area with its aromatherapy bath, soothing lights and music.

It was a really enjoyable day: the care home is very innovative in its approach to delivering care. It is ‘breaking the rules’ of the stereotype of care homes. I would love for other teams to follow in the footsteps of the group at WCS by challenging the status quo, being brave and creating a better future by ‘Breaking the Rules’. Find out more about how to get involved in Bev's post.