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Activities of daily living require a huge range of cognitive skills, which we develop from childhood as we grow. However, someone who has an acquired brain injury has to re-learn many of these skills. At Richardson Care we take an holistic approach, where members of our clinical team work with each service user to develop the skills they have lost. These include communication and cognitive skills, physical abilities and mental well-being.

In addition to the therapeutic interventions from the clinical team, our service users take part in a wide range of daily activities, depending on their personal preferences. We aim for these activities to be fun and inclusive, catering for a wide range of skill levels and tastes so the service users enjoy the activities and engage in them. These activities support the work of the therapists, without actually feeling like therapy, and can have a positive and lasting effect.

During the coronavirus pandemic, we have had to be more resourceful and creative as our service users have not been able to access the local community for their usual range of activities. This has meant providing a varied schedule within the home, and these ‘science experiments’ were an imaginative way to support cognitive skills in a group setting.

Experiment 1: Travelling Rainbow Water
This simple experiment shows colours travelling through kitchen roll and mixing together to make new colours. We started with three cups of water, one red, one blue and one yellow. We separated the cups of coloured water with empty cups and connected them all with kitchen roll. It takes a bit of time for the magic to happen, but the group were very patient with the experiment and the results were definitely worth the wait.

Experiment 2: Storm in a Cup
With water, shaving foam and food colouring, we recreated the science of the rain clouds! We half-filled our cups with water and added a layer of shaving foam, ensuring it floated flat above the water. We then added coloured water, drop by drop to the shaving foam. When the water became too heavy for the foam, the sudden swirling clouds of colour sparked plenty of gasps and giggles.

Experiment 3: DIY Lava Lamps
We made our own lava lamp reactions using vegetable oil, water, food colouring and an Alka-Seltzer tablet – the contents of the cup bubble around together mimicking the reaction of a lava lamp.

This activity lasted for over an hour and all service users who took part were engaged for the entirety of the session and helped to clean up afterwards. This activity promoted cognitive skills such as reading and following instructions, patience, coordination, listening to direction, creativity and curiosity. Members of the group were also encouraged to think about how the reactions worked. A number of them commented on the difference weights of the materials in the Storm in a Cup activity, how the materials separated in the DIY Lava Lamps and how the tissue paper absorbed the colour to make the Travelling Rainbow Water.


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Gill Ayris talks about her role at Richardson Care and why she loves it so much.

“I moved to Richardson Care from the corporate world six years ago, swapping event management and promotions for the complex processes of Admissions & Referrals. I was made to feel really welcome: it’s a great team and there’s good support from the business owners and managers. In March 2019, I became Admissions & Referrals Manager.

“Along with Admissions & Referrals Co-ordinators, Sharon & Ebony, we are responsible for promoting our services to social workers, case managers, solicitors and other professionals. We attend events as well as keeping in touch by phone and email. As Richardson Care has been established for over 30 years and we accept service users from all over the country, we have a large network of contacts to manage. Thanks to our track record and the reputation of our services, many of our referrals come from word of mouth.

“I love my role. What gives me the most job satisfaction is receiving a referral and following it through to the end. That means securing a placement in one of our homes, knowing that we can support the person’s needs and knowing that they will fit in with the current population. I love seeing them settle in and watching them progress in their therapies and their behaviours, and improving their quality of life. And it’s really rewarding to see them move on – either back home or to supported living. Even if they stay with us over the longer term, it’s lovely to see them develop their daily living skills and be happy.

“That’s what it’s all about. If you’re working in care you have to have that passion to improve someone’s life. At the end of the day, we’re dealing with real people. If someone’s had a brain injury, they are still that person. They are still Joe Bloggs. They might have a diagnosis now, but they are still Joe.”

“When we receive a referral, we need to assess whether we can help that person and whether they will fit in with the current population in that home. This is crucial – we are very mindful of this being a person’s home, where they feel safe and happy. We don’t want to disrupt life for our existing service users by introducing someone who won’t fit in. Consequently, we require a lot of information at the point of referral. We need full disclosure of the individual’s current conditions, living skills, cognitive abilities, mental capacity, risk behaviours and medications, as well as their medical and forensic history.

“Then if we feel that they would indeed fit into our community, we arrange an assessment. Under normal circumstances, we travel all over the country to complete assessments. It’s usually the admissions team member who has been dealing with the case, along with the appropriate home manager, who will go. We consult with our clinical team and if we feel that we can support that person, we make an offer by letter. The offer letter details the level of specialist care provision and associated costs.

“At Richardson Care, although we have a strong clinical team, this is not a hospital setting: it’s much more like a home from home. For example, the staff don’t wear uniforms, so there’s more of a relaxed feeling, it’s more of a family environment. Whether you have a brain injury or whether you have a learning disability, when you’re coming to one of our homes, from that time on it’s your home. You wouldn’t wear a uniform at home. We want everyone to feel comfortable and relaxed, so I think the no uniform policy makes a big difference.

“We have six care homes and I always say to families, friends and professionals who come to visit our homes prior to a referral is that they must look at all of the homes. If you walk into a home and half the service users aren’t there – they’re out doing this activity or that activity – it’s completely different to seeing everyone sitting in the lounge not doing anything. By visiting the homes, you can feel the atmosphere. You have to walk out of that home feeling happy and comfortable with leaving your loved one or client there.

“Of course, life has changed for everyone during the Covid-19 crisis. For me and my team, this means that our focus has been more on supporting the service users in our homes. We’re based at The Richardson Mews, so we’ve been going shopping for the service users here or supporting them with activities within the home. Sharon has been providing admin support at 23 Duston Road as staff have not been going from one home to another. In general, the morale has been fantastic and everyone has pulled together to keep our service users safe and happy. When we go back to our normal roles full time, I’m sure we’re going to miss seeing so much of our service users!”

You can contact Gill Ayris and her team on 01604 791071 or email admissions@richardsoncares.co.uk

See Gill Ayris talking about her role in this video, recorded in January 2020.


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The Coronavirus lockdown is affecting people in many different ways, but it can be particularly difficult for people with learning disabilities, autism and complex needs. They often need routine and structure, which has been disrupted as we’re no longer able to go out and about, visiting the usual places, doing the usual things. People with learning disabilities may not fully understand why their life has changed, or may not be able to verbalise their frustrations. We are supporting them in various ways:

Enhancing understanding

Everyone is different so we are supporting all of our service users according to their own needs and abilities. This can involve using non-verbal communication techniques such as Makaton, TEACHH or the PECS picture exchange system to explain the situation and what we need to do to stay safe.

Well-being

We’re being creative and introducing new structures and routines to keep everyone calm, entertained, safe and happy. We’ve been able to welcome back Martin the Music Man, whose music sessions enrich the lives of the service users in many ways. He’s been singing and playing his guitar in the gardens of the homes, while maintaining a social distance.

We’ve also had several birthdays to celebrate recently so we’ve made them special with garden parties, pamper sessions or parties in the homes with balloons, cakes, treats and gifts.

Trusted relationships

Many of our service users with learning disabilities have been with us for years, so we have a deep understanding of their likes, dislikes, needs and preferences. They have developed trusted relationships with our care support workers, which means that we are better able to support them in difficult times.

Feedback from families

We are also keeping in touch with their loved ones and are very grateful for the feedback we have received from families. Here are some examples:

“We spoke on the telephone this morning and I am writing to you to reiterate what I said to you on the ‘phone…

“There was a feature on this morning’s TV News about the very difficult time many autistic people and their carers are having during the Covid-19 lockdown.  As I watched it, I was reflecting on how very fortunate we are that our son is in your care and that he is being so well looked after and even more importantly, kept safe.  We are truly thankful for your care and for the brilliant work your staff at all levels are doing at during these difficult times. Please circulate this letter to your staff or post it in a prominent position so that all can read it…

Dear Friends

I just wanted to write to you as a parent of one of your residents to say how very grateful I am for the care you are providing for my son and the other residents during these difficult times.  I know you are doing your very best not just to care for our loved ones but to provide them with as varied and stimulating a time as possible.  I know that, like all of us, you are concerned about your own safety and well-being of yourselves and your families and this makes us doubly grateful for the excellent work you are doing.

I hope that you and your families remain well and look forward to being able to resume my regular visits.”

 

“Dear Jane [Service Manager]

I’m writing to say how thankful I am for the care my son has received while having another chest infection. He’s fine now thanks to your great staff. It must be so hard to keep everything germ free.

What really prompted me to contact you is the great idea of the cafe/tuck shop in the garden. That must make all the difference for everyone to go outside in the sun with their little coupons and buy something. I’m sure there are many challenges with everyone inside. Anyway thanks to all of you for a great job.”

We would like to thank all of the families who have sent in messages of support or gifts, and of course, thank our wonderful team of managers and staff. They are being amazingly positive, creative and dedicated, working hard to support our service users with learning disabilities, complex needs and acquired brain injury in these difficult times.

 


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Many of us who are fortunate to have a garden are giving it much more attention since the Coronavirus restrictions started. The gardens in our specialist care homes are no exception. Not only are the gardens benefiting from extra TLC, so are our service users.

All of our homes have large gardens and/or outdoor space that is used for a variety of activities, depending on the needs and preferences of service users.

The Mews – home for adults with acquired brain injury

One of our service users had taken ownership of some raised flowerbeds, which had been neglected, and as we’re all confined to the home and garden, he had some helpers. He trusted Ebony and Paige (two of our Admissions & Referrals Co-ordinators) along with another service user to get involved. They revamped the whole patch: dug, weeded, replanted some of the existing plants and added new ones. They planted herbs and vegetables as well as sowing some seeds.

Everyone enjoyed it, and one of the guys who suffered low mood said he had a really great day. Research, as well as anecdotal evidence, has shown that gardening activity has many well-being benefits – it’s mindful and calming, reducing stress and the symptoms of anxiety. It’s a meaningful activity, providing focus and hope – seeing plants grow and develop gives us something to look forward to in these uncertain times. In addition, neurological injury can impact on the brain’s ability to control physical movements, so weeding and planting seeds, for example, can help to improve fine motor skills.

The large garden at The Mews was perfect for our Easter treasure hunt and is also used for a wide range of games and activities.

The Coach House – home for adults with acquired brain injury

Adjacent to The Mews, service users at The Coach House have access to all of the gardens. They also have their own outside space with patios next to some of the bedrooms and a lovely sunny terrace at the front of the home. The service users have been enjoying the sunshine – having lunch outside, playing giant noughts and crosses, listening to the birds and enjoying nature.

144 Boughton Green Road  – long-term home for men with acquired brain injury

The large rear garden has a big lawn, which is great for football, badminton, croquet and outdoor darts. Families have been very supportive and donated some outdoor games, including giant Snakes & Ladders and Jenga. The patio is perfect for sitting in the sun and chilling out – just being outside has benefits of engaging all the senses, Vitamin D absorption, improving sleep and general well-being. We also have some extra gazebos, so there is plenty of shade and the guys have been eating alfresco when the weather’s been good. We had a barbecue one Friday and everyone really enjoyed themselves. One of the service users was the DJ for the day, and has now nominated himself as the home’s DJ!

There’s also been plenty of gardening activity – we’ve started a vegetable and herb garden, sowing seeds, and potting up plants. We’re hoping to grow potatoes, carrots, sweetcorn, tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergines and chillies.

23 Duston Road – home for adults with learning disabilities and complex needs

The back garden at Duston Road has a summerhouse, trampoline, tables and chairs, so can be enjoyed for a variety of activities. There was great joy recently when Martin the Music Man came to visit. He usually comes to the home every week, but had stopped coming because of social distancing rules. However, an improvement in the weather meant that he could play his guitar and sing, while maintaining a social distance. The guys and girls were really pleased to see him and he spread some musical cheer to everyone at the home.

2 & 8 Kingsthorpe Grove – homes for adults with learning disabilities and complex needs

The garden and patio provide some lovely outside space for games and other activities. However, the service users’ favourite thing at the moment is our new shop! They are all missing their trips to the local shops and cafes so we’ve converted the summerhouse. Tables and chairs are set up in the garden and they are all loving it.

We are trying to provide a sense of normality and routine, as well as some fun, during these difficult times. Outdoor space (especially when the weather is good) gives us additional opportunities to do this. A whole range of activities contribute to well-being and rehabilitation in a number of ways from enhancing mood to improving physical skills.



In supporting service users with learning disabilities and acquired brain injury, we are used to helping people face challenges and finding ways to overcome them. This means that our brilliant management team and care staff are well-placed to meet the challenges that the Coronavirus is posing right now. They are finding solutions to reduce the risks in our homes while maintaining the quality of life and well-being that we strive to achieve for the people in our care.

We have always enabled our service users to lead happy, healthy lives and fulfil their potential by providing person-centred care. We recognise that each person has individual needs and adapts to situations in different ways. Some people are finding the current situation particularly difficult as they require routine and stability. We are supporting all of our service users with clear communication and reassurance so that they understand, and are not fearful of the changes we are making. We are doing what we can to maintain a sense of normality and structure within each home, while changing activities to keep everyone safe.

Reducing Risk

These are some of the steps we are taking to reduce risk:

  • Cleanliness within the homes is always important, and we have stepped up our cleaning and disinfecting protocols to increase safety.
  • Care staff are following clear handwashing and other hygiene procedures and we have clear procedures in place should we suspect that there is a case of Covid-19 within a home.
  • As many of our service users require frequent orientation due to short-term memory problems because of an acquired brain injury, we are supporting them to wash their hands on a regular basis.
  • All service users are staying within their own home and garden.
  • Care staff rotas are managed so that staff only work within one home and office staff are being redeployed to cover external providers or those self-isolating, so we can minimise the number of different people coming into each home.
  • All non-essential visits to the homes have been suspended.

Community

Creating a feeling of belonging and participation in the local community are among our key principles. Unfortunately, the wealth of community activities in which our service users took part is not possible at the moment. However, each home is a community in itself, with service users and staff creating a family environment. This has never been as important as it is now. We have been so impressed with the staff morale and the way our service users are embracing some of the changes.

Our care support staff, administrators and admissions team are all coming up with creative ideas to keep our service users active, engaged, calm and happy during these difficult times. Activities are wide and varied so that there is plenty to suit everyone. They include: ‘pub quizzes’, bingo, craft activity, yoga, relaxation and meditation, table tennis, football, PE with Joe Wicks, gardening and lunches in the garden. You can find more information about these activities on our social media channels and blog posts over the coming weeks.

Family Support

The families of our service users are naturally concerned, so we have been communicating with them in various ways to demonstrate that life in the homes goes on with minimal disruption. We’re using Whatsapp, Skype, Facetime, emails and letters, sending messages and photos to keep in touch and reassure them. This is some of the feedback we have received.

“Thank you so much for keeping in touch with us all and thank you to all the staff there who are doing a wonderful job keeping things going through this.”

“Thank you so much for passing on our note and for your reassurance.”

“We are living in a difficult time and we hope you and your staff are doing all you can to look after yourselves. My thoughts are with you all.’

We are hugely grateful to our staff and management for their hard work and commitment during this challenging time and we are very proud of them all.


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As the country is preparing to face the impact of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) we want to assure you that we are taking steps to keep our service users and staff safe and healthy.

The well-being of our service users is at the heart of what we do and we always follow strict hygiene protocols. These have been stepped up in line with the latest World Health Organisation Guidelines.

Many of our service users are vulnerable and have underlying health conditions so we are ensuring that our response to the virus is robust and proportionate, taking each individuals needs into account.

We have suspended visits to the homes unless essential. However, we recognise that family and social contact is very important so we are also using apps such as Facetime to enable service users to be in touch with their families.

Our offices are based at the same locations as the homes. However they are being accessed externally (ie not through the homes) for essential meetings and staff interviews.

In addition, our homes have plenty of indoor and outdoor space, so service users do not need to feel confined to their rooms. We are being creative and coming up with new ideas for entertainment within each home. All bedrooms have ensuite or private bathrooms and we are implementing additional cleaning procedures throughout the homes.

The situation is changing rapidly, so we are monitoring it carefully and reviewing our procedures on a daily basis to limit the risk as much as possible. We are fortunate that we have a high ratio of staff to service users so we can still operate safely if our staff numbers are reduced.

If you have any questions or concerns then please contact us.


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17th March 2020 Life in Our Homes0

We often receive lovely comments from both family members and professionals about the specialist residential care that we provide, especially after they have been to visit their loved one or client. Here is a small selection from last month:

“Thank you for managing so much. It’s hard not having him near us, but knowing he is improving is the main thing” – family member
“I cannot say how good getting him to shower has been, that in itself is a great achievement. Thank you for keeping in touch”– family member
“I had a lovely visit with [him] on Sunday.” – family member
“Thanks for the warm welcome from you and your team” – Clinical Co-ordinator
“We had a really good visit, lunch [at the home] was first class.” – Case Manager

These comments relate to service users with acquired brain injury, but we have the same focus on quality of care for everybody, whether they have learning disabilities, acquired brain injury, dual diagnosis and/or complex needs.

Person-centred care

One of the things that sets us apart from other specialist residential care providers is our ethos of putting the service user at the centre of everything we do. This combined with our emphasis on dignity, respect and community underpins all the decisions that we make.

Having six care homes means that we can provide specialist care and support for adults with acquired brain injury and separately for those with learning disabilities. This also gives us the flexibility to offer short-term rehabilitation as well as long term rehabilitation and a home for life. We always take into account the needs and personalities of the current residents when considering new admissions.

Quality of the home environment

The quality of physical environment is also crucial to service users’ well-being. Experience has shown us that the right environment helps people with acquired brain injuries to better engage with their rehabilitation. It can also reduce anxiety and stress.

Of course, our homes are clean and safe, and we also try to make them as homely as possible, without being cluttered. This includes encouraging service users to bring their own belongings and we can decorate their room to their taste. It also means being innovative in our choice of furniture and furnishings, so that they are practical but look like something that you would have at home or find in a hotel instead of in a residential care setting. A good example of this is the new purpose-built wet-rooms that we have in The Coach House. They are accessible, single-level, fully-tiled rooms and the showers have a grab rail incorporated into their design. The style is ‘sleek and modern’ rather than ‘institutional’.

In addition, our specialist care homes are designed with plenty of communal space: separate dining rooms, a couple of lounge areas, tables and chairs in the garden. This means that service users can feel at home with the benefits of social contact and community, along with the space and opportunity to have some quiet time without being confined to their room.

By providing the right physical environment, along with experienced, caring staff, we can support all of our service users to live happy and fulfilling lives.

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Congratulations to all the service users at Richardson Care who were awarded ASDAN certificates throughout 2018/19. ASDAN stands for the Awards Scheme Development Accreditation Network: it provides courses in a wide range of subjects at various skill levels to enable people to achieve accredited qualifications. ASDAN programmes are flexible and adapted to different needs, so they are ideal for our service users who have an acquired brain injury or learning difficulties. All qualifications are independently verified to ensure that the correct standards are met.

Service users were awarded with a total of 63 certificates in 2018/19 – some of the more in-depth courses took two years to complete, which meant others could be worked on at the same time. These courses included Independent Living (introduction and progression levels), Personal Care Routines (sensory), Baking (introduction), Engaging with the World Around Me (Events), and Myself & Others. The awards are graded according to level of support required to complete the course, with 38 people achieving certificates with ‘No Help’, 21 with ‘Spoken Help’ and 4 by having their experience recorded.

As well as supporting service users to gain daily living skills, the ASDAN courses enhance their confidence, self-esteem and well-being. The programme also provides important benchmarks in their progress and a sense of achievement, which can increase motivation and encourage further learning.

Sallie Maris is our ASDAN training co-ordinator at Richardson Care, as well as being our Arts & Crafts specialist. She works with service users on a one-one basis to develop skills which can improve memory, co-ordination, communication and self-confidence.


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Welcome to 2020! We are starting the year with a new brand identity and will now be known as Richardson Care.

We realised that over the years, ‘Richardson’ has become the name of our extended family and represents all the service users and staff within the organisation. It is also a brand encompassing the values that we stand for: high quality care, professionalism and placing the service user at the centre of everything we do. It made sense to become ‘Richardson Care’ to take us forward in the future.

Caring is in our DNA

Richardson Care is one of very few independent specialist care providers in the country and is now owned and run by the second generation of the family. So, truly caring about the people we look after really is in our DNA, and it’s at the core of what we do. We remain true to our founding principles and the belief that social inclusion, community participation, dignity and respect, combined with tailored therapeutic input are key to enabling service users to fulfil their potential.

We are proud of our reputation for providing excellent rehabilitation and residential care for adults with acquired brain injury and separately for those with learning disabilities. And we continue to innovate in our approach to supporting all of our service users, delivering positive outcomes for the people in our care.

Our contact details remain the same, although we do have new email addresses, which now end in richardsoncares.co.uk


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16th December 2019 Life in Our Homes0

As you can imagine, December is a busy month in our specialist residential care homes. Where possible, we support service users to stay with their families, or visit for the day, over the Christmas period. Alternatively, family members and friends are welcome to visit their loved ones in our homes. We always try to make the festive period as fun and enjoyable as possible, and this is what’s happening this year.

We’ve been making decorations and putting them up along with Christmas trees in all the homes – special thanks to our Arts & Crafts lady, Sallie Maris, for her creative skills! There’s also carol singing, Karaoke, disco evening and games planned.

Christmas is often about tradition, and we like to create our own traditions in our homes. At 144 Boughton Green Road, our home for long-term rehabilitation for men with acquired brain injury, one of our service users always dresses up as Father Christmas on Christmas Day. It’s great fun for all the guys and the staff!

We have lots of trips organised to see the pantomime “Cinderella” at The Royal & Derngate in Northampton, as well as a trip with Mencap to see Jack & The Beanstalk at the Deco in Northampton.

The service users from all six homes, along with the staff, come together for a big Christmas party. There’s good food, music, dancing, and a wonderful atmosphere for everyone to enjoy. In addition, we have:

  • Headway Christmas lunch
  • Rock Club Christmas lunch at the Marriott Hotel
  • Christmas lights switch-on in Northampton town centre
  • Christmas shopping
  • Festive afternoon at Headway with coffee and mince pies
  • Visits to Duston, Wellesbourne and Stoke Bruerne Christmas food and gift markets
  • Workbridge craft fair with crafts, music, tombola and festive fun
  • Christmas fair at Kings Park Tennis Centre
  • Christmas parties at Brookside, Mencap
  • Bowls continues at The Richardson Mews hall on Monday afternoons

 

New kitchen at The Richardson Mews

To celebrate the completion of the new kitchen at The Richardson Mews, we had a joint early Christmas lunch for service users at The Mews and The Coach House. Thank you to Caroline, Mandy and Teresa who cooked an amazing Christmas dinner (and to Dexter and his team for our lovely new kitchen). We were joined by the Admissions team, Maintenance guys and some of the MDT. During the meal Northampton Ukulele Band played and sang carols – we had a great time!

Christmas tree at Richardson Mews People at the early Christmas party at Richardson Mews Food cooking in the kitchen at Richardson Mews


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

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