Speaking as a manager of a care home in late January 2021, Margaret Atiror knows she could be tempting fate when she says that, so far, none of her residents has had COVID-19. That doesn’t mean that the last year hasn’t been extremely challenging for Margaret and her dedicated and skilful team at the 60-bed Cullum Welch Court in Greenwich.
The home is part of the 330-year-old charity to support older people in south-east London, Morden College, which also boasts more than 200 flats, for both independent and supported living. Early in the pandemic, to minimise the risk of infection, the decision was taken that Cullum Welch would accept no new residents, except from within its own community. To date, it’s proved a very wise decision.
Two members of the team have been seriously ill though, and a number of others have had to isolate. With strict social distancing and infection control measures in places, and limited access to external training, Margaret and her colleagues were feeling isolated and in need of support in the midst of the first wave.
In her previous role as a manager of a home in Southwark, Margaret was part of the borough’s Registered Managers’ Network and had meetings at and engaged with St Christopher’s. She then accepted an invitation to one of the St Christopher’s free webinars.
I thought [the HELP for Care Homes programme] sounded really good for us as it meant we could get more engaged with the hospice and other homes.
“It was on one of these webinars that I heard about the ECHO sessions and about the other benefits of being part of the HELP for Care Homes programme. I thought it sounded really good for us as it meant we could get more engaged with the hospice and other homes.
“I seek to improve whatever service I work in and wanted to access the training and resources to support my staff – especially with end of life care. Our nurses have a very good reputation for end of life care but for the sake of their continued professional development this seemed like a good opportunity.”
The fact that ECHO, the skills workshops and other virtual learning sessions weren’t limited to nursing staff, was another factor that appealed to Margaret.
“I was really pleased to see that there were programmes for carers too. Having resources available for the whole team is very important as we continue to try to deliver excellent end of life care for all the residents and their loved ones.
“The sessions for Activity Coordinators have been one of the real highlights. There are very few learning opportunities for them out there and so my three coordinators jumped on that and they found it very useful, rewarding and enriching and found lots of new ideas. In the current environment the residents need Activity Coordinators more than ever. My team is looking forward to the next session.”
Having resources available for the whole team is very important as we continue to try to deliver excellent end of life care for all the residents and their loved ones.
Margaret has endeavoured to engage as many of her staff as possible in the opportunities made available by being a HELP for Care Homes partner. She’s also been sure to maximise the impact by getting those who attend sessions to share the learnings with the whole team.
As well as the formal learning, the chance to ‘meet’ and speak to fellow managers encountering similar issues has been another benefit Margaret has appreciated as part of the Registered Managers Network, another offer of the HELP for Care Homes programme.
“It’s a platform to engage with other managers, share concerns and reassure each other,” she adds.
“If a fellow manager asked me about becoming a HELP for Care Homes partner, I would draw attention to the huge variety of resources and courses. I’d also say that it is empowering and enriching for staff and has helped keep them motivated and engaged at a time when there has been so little access to training. It is a great resource.”
Find out more about HELP for Care Homes