As Staff & Audit Co-ordinator, Laura Griffin, celebrates 20 years of working at Richardson Care, she gives us an insight into her role.
“Although no two days are the same at Richardson Care, they tend to start off the same way. My office is located in the back garden of 144 Boughton Green Road, one of our specialist care homes for adults with acquired brain injury. It’s home to 14 men who are long-term residents.
“When I arrive at the home, Ed*, who has lived here for more than 25 years, greets me at the door. He battles with me to help take my bags then carries them to my office for me. He’ll make us a cup of coffee each and we’ll have a chat for 10 – 15 minutes while I turn on my computer and get ready for the day ahead.
“Ed can present with very challenging behaviour, but he is generally very settled here and stable. I know what signs to look out for, and if I think he is about to get distressed, I distract him or remind him that he is making the coffee so he gets back on track and we talk about our plans for that day. I have never felt threatened. This is Ed’s home and I’m in his garden, so he can come and go as he pleases.
“All staff at Richardson Care receive Safety Intervention training with a refresher course every year. This means that we’re empowered to diffuse any potentially difficult situations to protect both the service users and ourselves. Of course, getting to know the individual service users is also important. I also chat with the other guys when I go into the home. It’s a relaxed, homely atmosphere and sometimes it’s the small things that make a big difference. For instance, Ed knows which mugs are kept in my office, so if he’s used one, he makes sure that it’s always washed properly and ready to return the next day. Just having a chat and a coffee with him every morning is really important to him.”
From Care Support Worker to Administrator
“I started at Richardson Care as a full-time Senior Care Support Worker at the home in Clarence Avenue, Northampton. After my daughter was born, I worked part-time. Then I had a son, and when he was just a year old, my partner at the time was diagnosed with cancer. The business owners, Laura & Greg were brilliant at the time: they offered me a part-time office role that I could fit around childcare and my partner’s medical appointments. I think that they created the role for me, so it’s just evolved over time and may seem a random collection of responsibilities.
“Sadly, my partner died. I increased my hours, later returning to full-time work. I’m very grateful for all the support I’ve been given. I feel valued and looked-after so I’m very loyal to Laura & Greg and it makes me want to work harder.
“In my role as staff co-ordinator, I deal with staff queries – anything from holiday requests to changing tax codes. I plan the staffing rotas, ensuring that our homes are fully staffed at all times. Because we provide specialist residential care for adults with learning disabilities and for those with acquired brain injury, many of our service users have complex needs. We therefore require a high staff to service user ratio, and service users often require one to one staffing, especially if they have recently been admitted to one of our homes.
“We try to have as many employed staff as possible, and some of our staff have been here for many years. However, we do need to call on bank (or agency) staff. One of my responsibilities is recruitment. As well as recruiting staff who are reliable, caring and compassionate, we also look for people who are keen to do lots of different activities. Ordinarily, the service users go out and about on day trips, to the cinema, theatre, swimming or trampolining, for instance. So we need staff who enjoy more variety in their role.
“Recruitment in the whole of the care sector is really tough at the moment. I don’t think that society values care workers enough.”
Care Home Auditing
“Another one of my responsibilities is auditing the homes. We audit each of our homes once a month. We have six individual care homes but some of them are under joint CQC registrations. The Richardson Mews/The Coach House and 144 Boughton Green Road are specialist homes for adults with acquired brain injury and numbers 2 & 8 Kingsthorpe Grove and 23 Duston Road are specialist homes for adults with learning disabilities and complex needs.
“Working with Operational & Clinical Officer, Jane Payne, we complete a full internal audit of a home each week. We check whatever an inspector would look for to ensure that each home provides a safe and caring environment for its residents.
“We select a case file for a service user then track all of the paperwork to make sure that everything is correct, including that medications, therapies and activities are all properly recorded. We also check the home environment, making sure that everything is clean and compliant from a health and safety point of view, but also that it is up to the quality that we demand. The homes are subject to a lot of wear and tear, so there is a continual programme of maintenance and redecoration. In addition furniture and soft furnishings need to be cleaned or replaced on a regular basis.
“If anything has been flagged up on a previous inspection, then we’ll make sure that it’s been followed up and dealt with. We offer a fresh pair of eyes and objective inspection of the home, often noticing things that you wouldn’t see if you’re in the home every day.
“Jane and I report our findings to the Homes Manager, highlighting where improvements need to be made and also where staff should be praised. Our internal auditing role is to support the staff to deliver the quality of service that we demand. This process is also designed to ensure that any unannounced CQC inspection runs smoothly and with as little disruption as possible for the residents in the home.
“I’m always made to feel welcome by both the staff and the service users in each home. The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly, and I’ve never felt intimidated in any of the homes. I’d feel comfortable entering any home and working a shift as a care support worker again.
“As well as having long-term residents, some of the care staff have been at Richardson Care for many years so I’ve got to know them well. Unfortunately, because of all the lockdown restrictions I haven’t even met some of the newer members of staff but I hope that will change soon.”
Growth of Richardson Care
“Obviously, a lot has changed at Richardson Care in the last 20 years. It’s a much bigger organisation, so there is more delineation of responsibility – rather than everyone ‘pitching in’ when required, as we did back at the beginning. The reputation of Richardson Care has grown too. Northampton has become a centre of excellence in care for people with brain injury and complex needs and we’re definitely up there with the other major specialist care providers. The MDT is exceptional and our service users achieve some very positive outcomes.
“Although the organisation has grown, it’s still an independent family business and the homes still have a real family feel to them.
“I was also very fortunate to meet my husband, Dexter, at work. He’s the Maintenance Manager at Richardson Care and has now been here for over 15 years. He’s a perfectionist and needs to make sure that all maintenance work in the homes is strong and robust. Everything in our home is done to the same standard too, so it’s built to stand the test of time!
“I really enjoy my role at Richardson Care. It’s evolved a lot over the years, as has the organisation. We continue to grow and innovate to provide the best possible care for all the service users. That’s why we’re here.”
*We have changed the name of the service user to protect his identity