Jean-Woods_crop-1200x1354.jpg

We’re very happy and relieved that Jean Woods, Laura’s Grandma is now able to move on to specialist elderly and dementia care. She is so much better than she was when she was admitted to The Richardson Mews at Christmas. We are hugely grateful to Registered Manager, Helen Petrie, and the whole team.

We know that it’s a big responsibility caring for anyone’s loved one who is vulnerable and can present with challenging behaviour. Add to that being at the height of a pandemic and the fact that it’s the bosses’ 87-year-old grandmother, and the stress levels are even higher.

After Jean broke her hip, she spent six weeks in hospital. As there were no rehab places available and she needed specialist care, we decided to admit her to The Richardson Mews. She arrived at Christmas 2020 after she had finished her isolation period. She does not fit our usual demographic, who have sustained a brain injury and are often younger adults. However, the multi-disciplinary team and the care team used their skills and experience to focus on Jean’s personal needs – as they do with any service user.

When Jean arrived, she couldn’t weight-bear and was in a very confused state. There was also a confirmed case of Covid-19 in the home. Protocols were followed and most of the service users, Jean included, managed to avoid catching Covid.

Jean is now able to walk with a frame and is cognitively much better, despite her advancing dementia. The input of the multi-disciplinary team delivering physiotherapy, and psychological therapy as well as changing her medication, had a marked improvement in her well-being. She is now well, strong and fit.

What we have noticed most of all, has been the benefit that all of the staff interactions have had on her well-being. Where she was previously left for long periods of time on her own, the constant care and attention of staff has paid huge dividends. Despite the restrictions of lockdown, it appears that none of the service users have suffered from isolation.

Jean’s care has brought home to us how other families must feel when their loved one is cared for by others. This positive outcome is a credit to Helen, the multi-disciplinary team and the whole staff team at The Richardson Mews.

Many thanks from Laura & Greg Richardson-Cheater and the whole family.


IMG_8133_crop_FAVOURITE-1200x920.jpg

Martin Reeves (or Martin the Music Man), our Music Enrichment Leader, returned to Richardson Care homes again in March after the Coronavirus lockdown, performing in the gardens of the homes. Martin sings and plays the guitar and ukulele. He also has a collection of fun percussion instruments (one is shaped like a banana, for instance) and he tailors his activities to the preferences and personalities to the residents in each care home.

His weekly music sessions certainly enrich the lives of the service users (as well as the staff) within the homes, in various different ways.

Martin says: “I have been humbled by the response of service users and staff since I came back. In many cases, it’s as though I’d never been away. It struck me how everyone got straight back into the music. They started requesting songs and singing along immediately. It was incredible.”

Martin’s return was an emotional and uplifting experience for all, and, as you’d expect, people responded in different ways.

Martin continues: “Some of the guys who have learning disabilities just asked for the same songs as usual (Happiness/Michael Row the Boat Ashore/This OId Man etc). They hadn’t forgotten any of the words. The guys at 8 Kingsthorpe Grove are probably the most engaged and the best for sheer enthusiasm. They can sing really loudly and be really joyous.

“Music embeds itself into your psyche. Singing is a different cognitive process to talking, and sometimes, people who sing don’t always talk. This is particularly important for people who have an acquired brain injury and may struggle with memory issues or speech. The words and melodies are entrenched. It’s as though the brain has a separate shelf that it keeps all the music on.”

Music enrichment for adults with learning disabilities and complex needs

At our home in Duston, two young ladies in particular get really involved and are very enthusiastic. Martin says: “Whatever the song, one gives it the full operatic treatment. Another was given a guitar for her birthday, which she plays left handed even though she’s right-handed! One of the reasons is that she can mirror what I’m playing….in her own unique way. She’s also been taking videos and sending them to her Mum. You can see the joy in her and it’s clear the music really brings that out.”

Music enrichment for adults with acquired brain injury

Martin adds: “Playing for the guys at 144 Boughton Green Road is more like playing for a bunch of blokes down the pub. We have a joke and a laugh and there’s a fair bit of heckling and banter. I have worked out what sort of music stimulates them, so I can play more obscure music, such as the Bluetones/Jack Johnson/Divine Comedy/Squeeze…anything that comes into my mind and they really get something out of it. The music takes them out of themselves and gives them a sense of normality. They can relax, have a laugh and be entertained.”

Individual responses to the music

“There are different levels of interest and activity among the service users and if I’m playing outside some of the guys will just listen to the music in their room through the window. It can have a calming and relaxing effect, as well as enhancing their mood.

“I’m very aware of how people respond. Some people respond well to some gentle encouragement and join in, while others need more time. I’m even pleased when people sleep through some of the music sessions as this means that they are completely relaxed.”

Martin concludes: “When I first started coming to Richardson Care over 10 years ago it struck me then how the organisation thinks outside the box to enhance and enrich the lives of people in their care. It’s wonderful to be back. Returning to doing some meaningful activity after lockdown and seeing everyone’s response gave me a real boost. It’s massively rewarding and enriches my life too, giving me a sense of purpose and value. I feel part of the team, but I never forget that I’m a guest in someone else’s home. It’s about creating the right atmosphere, so I’m not pushy at all.”

Music Enrichment logo


Wendy_Coleman_156_crop-1200x1062.jpg

These are the reflections of Wendy Coleman, Registered Manager at 23 Duston Road, who retires in June after 10 years at Richardson Care. We’d like to thank her for the way that she has led her team and brought stability to the home. Wendy’s passion, commitment and support has enabled her and her team to enhance the lives of the residents at 23 Duston Road. Here she shares her reflections on her experience at Richardson Care.

“It has been a pleasure to work for Richardson Care. The care they provide is excellent and I am proud I have been part of the Management team and the relationship we have built. I am proud of the staff at 23 Duston Road; their hard work and achievements. I could not have achieved what I have without them. I am proud of the relationships I have built with service users’ families and other professionals.

Bringing leadership to the team

“When I first came to 23 Duston Road, there had been frequent changes of management, so the staff had been left without consistent management. They lacked guidance, leadership and direction. I found out later that they didn’t expect me to last more than three months!

“I worked with the staff to give them stability of direction and to ensure that everyone understood their responsibilities, increasing motivation and the overall effectiveness of the team. With more focus on consistently implementing policies and procedures, staff were better able to deliver good standards, thus providing better outcomes for the residents.

“Every day is different and often brings new challenges. It has been wonderful to see the home transform and staff develop into a cohesive team. We are all responsible for the wellbeing and safety of the residents, fulfilment of their needs and positive outcomes.

Management qualities

“I feel as a Manager you must be caring and have large amounts of patience and resilience. You need to have good communication skills and always be ready to listen. As Managers, we play a key role in ensuring that the service users’ needs are met and they live happy fulfilled lives.

“I see my achievements as enhancing the lives of the service users. It’s also when staff lay on events, parties, outings, etc and I see how much the residents enjoy them. Seeing staff development and confidence in promoting high standards of care are also very rewarding.

“It’s a demanding environment as many of our service users have complex needs and can present with behaviour that challenges. As a Manager, you also have to deal with staff performance issues. I have learnt from every experience, and I know that I’m not alone. I am supported in my role by the Multi-disciplinary team of neuro specialists and the other Managers.

“I have learnt that it is important to ask for help: My peers, the Managers and Directors have always been there for guidance and support.

“I feel I have developed myself in the role. As well as keeping up to date with training, I have taken the opportunity to advance my skills. I have enjoyed working with my peers and the Management team, to develop skills in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), where you reflect on your own practice and those of others.

It’s more than a job

“Being the Manager at 23 Duston Road has been more than a job: It has been a big part of my life and I will take many happy memories with me. I have made many good friends and I find the feedback from everyone quite overwhelming. Everyone should be proud of what they have achieved: I am sure that they and the company will continue to grow and achieve.”

Managing complex placements

“Wendy’s experience and calm and level character was just what we needed at 23 Duston Road”, adds Greg Richardson-Cheater, Director. “We have some service users with very complex and challenging behaviours who need a stable and consistent environment. Without someone like Wendy, some of those placements may have failed.

“She is also genuinely caring and always up for the challenge, because she wants to give people a chance. For instance, she has been prepared to accept some very difficult respite placements because she want to give them and their family a break.

“Wendy has demonstrated true commitment to the job, the service users and her colleagues. She had originally planned to retire before the Covid crisis, but decided to stay on through a very difficult time. We are hugely grateful to her for the support that she has given us over the last 10 years. We’d like to wish her all the very best for her retirement.”


Man-with-Brain_crop.jpg

12th May 2021 Uncategorised0

A traumatic brain injury is caused by trauma to the head. This may be in a road traffic accident or the result of a fall. It can be sudden and dramatic and can change someone’s life, and that of their family, in an instant.

The extent to which someone recovers from a traumatic brain injury will depend on a number of factors. These include: the severity of the injury, the age of the person, their general health and fitness and the part of the brain that has been damaged.

Because a traumatic brain injury can have an impact on so many aspects of someone’s mental and physical abilities, treatment for traumatic brain injury can be a long and complex process. Individual cases are all very different but this article seeks to explain the different stages in treatment and recovery from traumatic brain injury and the different services involved. Having some information about brain injury and the hospital systems can help you to cope and maintain a sense of control if a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury.

Emergency treatment after traumatic brain injury

When someone experiences a brain injury they need to get medical attention as soon as possible. The priority of emergency responders and paramedics will be to stabilise and manage the person’s condition. They will be taken to the nearest emergency department and may have other serious injuries so all of their injuries will be fully assessed. Immediate treatment will be prioritised based on the most urgent clinical need.

If someone is unconscious, they will need to have a tube inserted into their windpipe and connected to a ventilator to help them breathe. This allows oxygen to enter the bloodstream so that it can continue to reach the brain. They may have CT scans or MRI scans of their head to check for additional complications such as blood clots or bleeding on the brain.

Specialist neurosurgical unit

When their condition is stable they may be taken to a specialist neurosurgical unit. These are usually located in bigger hospitals in major cities, so the patient may be taken some distance by ambulance or helicopter.

Neurosurgery is a delicate and lengthy procedure carried out by skilled surgical teams. Operations are performed for many different types of traumatic brain injury and often require cutting through the skull. This can be a very frightening prospect for the family of someone who has suffered a traumatic brain injury, but operations on the head can be quite straightforward and the skull heals quickly.

The main factor affecting someone’s recovery from brain injury is the severity of the initial injury rather than the surgery.

After surgery, the person will spend some time in a high dependency unit/intensive care. They may take some time to regain consciousness due to a combination of their brain injury and the anaesthetic that they had for their operation.

The person will be moved to a general hospital ward after the emergency stage, when they require less intensive nursing.

Brain injury rehabilitation unit

The person may need several months, or even longer, of intensive inpatient treatment and rehabilitation. It is likely that they will be moved to a specialist brain injury rehabilitation unit. Here they will receive treatment for all aspects of their brain injury. This treatment includes medication, physiotherapy, building strength for mobility and balance, speech and language therapy and psychological support.

They will receive assessments on a regular basis to monitor developments in their cognitive and physical abilities.

When they no longer require nursing care, some people may be able to continue with their rehabilitation at home, while others will need specialist residential care.

Specialist residential care

Specialist residential care for people with traumatic brain injury may not be available locally. There are some centres of expertise in brain injury in the country (such as Northampton) and other specialist homes are available nearer larger populations. This means that the person may have to travel some distance to find the right residential care home in which to continue their rehabilitation.

Person-centred rehabilitation

At Richardson Care, we take a holistic and person-centred approach to rehabilitation following traumatic brain injury. We will assess the person’s needs and devise a care plan to support them and help them achieve their personal goals.

A combination of many factors provides the therapy and support that enable the individual to continue along their rehabilitation journey. These include the following:

  1. A multi-disciplinary team of neuro specialists
  2. Experienced Homes Managers and Clinical & Operational Officer
  3. Care staff/activity support workers with compassion and experience in supporting people with complex cognitive and physical needs
  4. A warm, welcoming and spacious environment where service users can feel ‘at home’
  5. A wide range of enjoyable and meaningful activities to support their well-being and help them to develop skills of daily living
  6. Supported home visits to help maintain family relationships as well as supporting the family of the service user

Someone who has sustained a traumatic brain injury is likely to require life-long rehabilitation. The exact nature of this will vary according to their brain injury and any degenerative conditions they may have.

Some people may be able to return home or move into supported living after a period of residential care. Others may need a ‘home for life.’ At Richardson Care we provide short-term, long-term residential care and rehabilitation as well as a home for life, supporting people along their rehabilitation journey.


Jabs-montage_2-1200x394.jpg

11th March 2021 Specialist Support0

One of our important roles is advocating for our service users who have acquired brain injury or learning disabilities. Putting someone at the centre of their care means working with them and supporting them to express their needs and preferences. This can be on a day-to-day basis regarding activities or meal choices, or in matters relating to their care and therapy.

In the case of the coronavirus vaccination, we had tried as many different routes as possible to secure vaccinations for our service users. The picture was varied and depended on the policies of the specific GP surgeries. All of our service users are vulnerable but many didn’t have underlying health conditions that qualified them for the jab. However, living in a care home put them at additional risk, simply because of the number of people within the home. People in care homes, other than elderly care, seemed to have been forgotten. It made no sense to provide vaccinations for care staff, while the people we need to protect were not allowed to have a vaccination.

We contacted our local MP, Michael Ellis, and the Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock, to bring this to their attention, but unfortunately without success. It wasn’t until Radio 2 DJ, Jo Whiley, raised this issue on behalf of her sister Frances, who has learning disabilities, that anything changed. We are hugely grateful to her. We’re now pleased to report that all of our service users who have chosen to have the vaccine have now had their first jabs.

We are, of course, continuing to follow strict hygiene protocols and wearing the appropriate PPE. As it will take three weeks for the vaccinations to have an effect on immunity, we have not yet permitted any visitors. We are grateful for the patience and understanding shown by the families of the service users in our care. We’re now looking to the future with hope and optimism.

The image above shows members of staff receiving their vaccinations.


Coach-House-Montage-1200x382.jpg

Three new rooms are now available at The Coach House – our newest home for adults offering brain injury care and rehabilitation. This is following the completion of a second staircase, bringing the number of rooms to 11. Further rooms are likely to be released later in the year.

“Despite the difficulties that the pandemic is causing, we are still receiving a lot of referrals for our specialist brain injury care”, says Gill Ayris, Admissions & Referrals Manager, “so we’re very pleased that our residential capacity is increasing.”

The Coach House is situated in the grounds of The Richardson Mews in Kingsthorpe, Northampton. Both are listed buildings, full of character with large social spaces as well as generous ensuite bedrooms. The Coach House was significantly refurbished and extended, enabling a bespoke residential care home to be created. This meant that the home could meet the specific needs of people with acquired brain injury, while retaining the character of a listed building.

Richardson Care design philosophy

We have a clear design philosophy at Richardson Care: We believe that every home should feel like ‘home’, and that providing the right environment helps our service users to engage in their therapy and rehabilitation, and improves their quality of life.

We spoke to architect Chris Cheater, Design Director at McLaughlin & Harvey Limited, who has been an important part of the design team at Richardson Care for over 15 years:

“Working with Richardson Care has been a sharing of ideas and experience. The Directors, Laura and Greg, have always been clear in their desire to develop an architectural expression that seeks to draw out the unique character of each care setting. This gives a distinct sense of place and identity that service users can call ‘home’.

The essence of home

“Central to my role in the process of creating wonderful and supportive spaces is weaving the essence of ‘home’ throughout a scheme. This has had to be undertaken whilst ensuring the internal environment is supportive to people with very specific, varied and complex needs. By combining my professional training and sharing knowledge, we have evolved a clear design language for Richardson Care over time. Central to this ethos is spaces which are uplifting, naturally lit and allow all occupants to move freely in and around the home.

“In The Coach House we have had the opportunity to provide these elements within a new bespoke building, unrestricted by pre-existing constraints. This building is specifically designed knowing the need for space, circulation and light is central to the successful function of the home.  Designed around a central ‘meeting place’ and connected via ‘The Street’, we have created a care setting placing service users at the heart of the home. We believe naturally lit communal spaces are foremost in the assistance of rehabilitation. Our wide movement spaces allow for contemplation, and the extensive use of glazing allows connection to the outside, which assists in a feeling of convalescing.

“The interior design is an intrinsic part of the design philosophy and has been developed with Laura to ensure it remains as non-institutional as possible whilst ensuring its functionality. All of the support functions of the home have been incorporated within the building fabric to provide robust but discrete safe and secure environment befitting the vulnerability of the occupants.

“The design of The Coach House doesn’t for me signal the conclusion of a design philosophy, but rather an expression of an ongoing evolution of care provision, of which I’m proud to be a part as it progresses into the future.”


Tally_4281_crop-1200x1229.jpg

Natalia Thumwood, known to everyone as Tally, has been promoted to Registered Homes Manager at 2 & 8 Kingsthorpe Grove – homes for adults with learning disabilities. She had big boots to fill as she took over from Jackie Mann, who first joined Richardson Care in 1990 and was very popular with service users and their families.

Tally is a warm-hearted and dedicated Manager. She loves working in the care sector and joined Richardson Care nine years ago as an Activity Support Worker. She progressed to Senior Support Worker then Manager at Kingsthorpe Grove so has built up a good rapport with staff, service users and their families over the years.

Read Tally’s profile


Christmas-montage-1200x422.jpg

21st December 2020 Life in Our Homes0

After the most challenging year that many of us can remember, we look forward to 2021 with hope. We will be ready to offer our service users the Covid-19 vaccine as soon as it’s available to them. In the meantime, Christmas preparations are well underway.

Christmas in our care homes is usually a lively time with much excitement. This year is no exception. We have adapted to staying at home and finding ways to keep our service users active, engaged, safe and happy. They are supported to take decisions on what happens within the home, and we have a wide range of festive activities going on, including:

  • The summerhouse at 8 Kingsthorpe Grove has been converted into a beautiful grotto ready for Santa to visit
  • The team at The Richardson Mews had a fun, Australian-themed Christmas barbecue with a visit from ‘Kenny the Kangaroo’ to distribute presents!
  • Saturday nights in December are Christmas movie nights at 144 Boughton Green Road
  • Christmas karaoke is always popular at 23 Duston Road
  • There’s also mince pie making, cookie decorating, making cards, decorations and Christmas wreaths, carol singing, Christmas bingo and much more…

We would like to thank the staff teams in each home, who have come together and supported each other to ensure that we provide the best possible care for our service users. It’s been incredibly tough and we’re very proud them.

With best wishes for Christmas and the New Year,

Laura & Greg Richardson-Cheater
Directors


Managers-montage-1200x599.jpg

The importance of communication is the subject of the fourth blog post in our series about what we’ve learnt so far during the pandemic. It may sound obvious, but it’s easy to get it wrong. The situation was changing on a daily basis and the pressure and expectation on the management team was extraordinary. Never had the responsibility of being a Registered Homes Manager been so great. Here we share some of their thoughts and experiences.

Open communication channels

We learnt the importance of honesty, with ourselves, with our staff, with our service users, with our families and with each other as a management team. Had it not been for the openness that we have adopted in all our communications then this period would have been more challenging. It brought a sense of togetherness, a shared experience and an opportunity to change the way in which we build our relationships both professionally and personally.

None of us had ever experienced anything like this before so we were all learning together. We didn’t pretend to know all the answers, but we listened to WHO advice and took decisions swiftly in the interests of our service users. We reduced risks as much as possible to make our homes as safe as we could – both for our service users and our staff. We didn’t have all the answers but we did what we thought was best with the information that we had available at the time. We didn’t want to look back and wish we’d acted sooner.

We had to be honest about our fears and anxieties so we could support each other in finding ways to overcome them. It was important to maintain a positive attitude as we knew our response would affect the atmosphere within each home and impact our service users. They need to feel safe and secure within their home.

Our management meetings moved online. Although we couldn’t meet in person, we all took part in weekly management meetings, which were crucial in ensuring the smooth running of the homes. Facing the crisis together and being open and honest with each other has given all of us a better understanding of each other’s role and greater respect for each other. Together we worked out solutions to difficulties that arose, assessed risks, made contingency plans and boosted morale. It was vital to keep all communication channels open.

We managed staff teams so that there was no movement of staff between the homes. This had the positive effect of more continuity for service users. They had more 1:1 time with support workers so bonded more with staff. In some cases this has improved their communication skills, and some have demonstrated more empathy towards each other.

We’ve realised the importance of open communication, showing how we value, support and appreciate each other, talk more, respect and, most importantly, listen to each other. We’ve learning that praising and valuing people is so important in these difficult times.

We’re hugely grateful for the support of service users’ families, who have been unable to see their loved for long periods of time. We explained the difficult decision to close our doors to them and they understood that we had the service users’ interests at heart. We kept in touch as much as we could, getting to grips with new technologies, until they were able to meet in person again. They showed a lot a love and appreciation for all the staff, working under very difficult circumstances.

As the pandemic continues for longer than many of us expected, reflecting on how far we’ve come helps us to remain positive. We have protected our service users, kept them engaged and happy, and supported their families. We know we have the strength and resilience to continue.


montage_2-1200x492.jpg

7th December 2020 Life in Our Homes0

As we’re always supporting our service users with acquired brain injury or learning disabilities to move forward, we rarely reflect on how far we’ve come. Our short series of blog posts looks at the views and experiences of our management team during the pandemic: what we’ve learnt so far about ourselves and how we manage our specialist residential care services. Although we have never experienced anything like this in our 30-year history, we have always focussed on the needs of the individual service users in our care. Every individual, whether they have a brain injury or learning disabilities is different. Therefore in order to deliver person-centred care, we often have to be creative in our approach.

Finding innovative solutions

For many service users, routine is a major part of their life. When their usual activities are no longer possible – no home visits, day services, community activities – we need to support and reassure them, creating new routines and structure in their lives. We have promoted health and exercise as well as bringing joy and laughter.

Although the service users have missed going out, we have had plenty of scope and opportunity to develop in-house activities. Our large gardens and outdoor spaces have been used for gardening: we’ve grown our own vegetables for the first time. We’ve had al fresco lunches and barbecues with a disco, played sports and games, done trampolining and completed treasure hunts. The in-house ‘coffee shops’ have been a great success, giving service users an opportunity to relax and build relationships between each other – often finding that spending more time together enables a greater understanding and appreciation of each other.

Restricting family visits was really tough, but we’ve maintained family contact through Skype, WhatsApp, Facetime and Zoom, as well as phone calls and letters. We even managed to track down a service users’ mother who had lost contact with her son several years ago. We were able to reunite them virtually using Skype, and this lead to seeing other family members too. This was a very positive and emotional experience for all.

At The Richardson Mews (inspired by Joe Wicks) the day now starts with ‘Morning Motivation’ – exercising to music every day to improve fitness, flexibility and well-being. We’re also making more use of our in-house gym equipment. One service user who has a brain injury thrived during lockdown: he was in a wheelchair in February and now he can walk 70 lengths of the parallel bars.

Staff have stepped into new roles – organising craft activities, baking sessions, quizzes or film nights. Some service users have also found new roles within the home too – one of the guys has become the house DJ!

We’ve celebrated birthdays with gifts, parties and barbecues. We’ve maintained structure when needed, providing mental stimulation, social interaction and fun, while supporting well-being and skills development.

We have always strived to create a relaxed family environment within each home. Facing the challenge of coronavirus together has brought everyone closer. The whole team and service users have felt and behaved even more like a family – there are good friendships and strong bonds. As we approach Christmas we maintain our focus on keeping everyone happy, safe, healthy and secure.


Footer Logos

Headway – Approved Care Provider

Richardson Care, The Richardson Mews, Kingsland Gardens, Northampton NN2 7PW

T: 01604 791266.
E: welcome@richardsoncares.co.uk.

Policies | Resources

© Richardson Care Holdings Limited, registered in England & Wales: 12432902 | Registered office: Peterbridge House, 3 The Lakes, Northampton NN4 7HB