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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.


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As we approach the winter, coronavirus cases rising again and another lockdown, it’s important to acknowledge how far we’ve come and what we’ve learnt. Our experience in supporting people who are rebuilding their lives after brain injury or living with learning disabilities means that we are problem solvers. We support people to overcome challenges every day. Never has this been more important and we’re proud of the way that our management team and staff have responded.

We asked our Homes Managers for their personal views and experiences of the pandemic – from their initial reactions to plans for the future. In a series of blog posts, we highlight what we’ve learnt and how some of the changes we’ve made will continue past the pandemic.

We’re more resilient that we thought

Resilience is defined as: “The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness” and it’s been demonstrated by our team throughout the pandemic.

We had to deal with something that no one had ever experienced before: a real virus, in real time with real people. Government guidance was changing almost on a daily basis and everyone reacted differently. The initial fear demonstrated by some staff left others having to broaden their shoulders, taking on extra activities within their daily routines. The responsibilities of the management teams have never been greater, we needed to be clear, decisive and robust in our response. We didn’t know all the answers, but we were learning together.

Jane Payne, Operational & Clinical Officer (pictured above), takes us back to earlier this year: “On February 18th 2020 we informed staff that there was a new virus, and preventative measures were put into place including hourly touch point cleaning, increase in hand washing and an increase in awareness. Ahead of government guidance on March 12th 2020, we took the very tough, necessary decision to close our doors to family and friends to protect service users. We made sure that all staff worked only in one home, so in the event of an infection, it would not be transferred from one home to another by our staff.”

“The Management team have become incredibly solid; working as one in supporting each other, as and when each has needed, as we live and work through the rollercoaster that is Covid-19. I am proud to lead; and be part of such a strong group of individuals displaying a sole purpose of ensuring the care, welfare, safety and security of our service users and staff.  Richardson Care has shown we are more than resilient, we have become stronger through experience. Care: it’s in our DNA.”


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The CQC Emergency Support Framework (ESF) was launched on 1st May, running until 30th September. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, routine inspections of residential care homes and other providers were suspended, so the ESF offered a structured framework for regular conversations between the CQC and care providers. Although they were not inspections, the ESF provided a source of intelligence the CQC could use to monitor risk and identify where providers needed extra support to respond to emerging issues, and to ensure they delivered safe care which protects people’s human rights. It was also designed to aid understanding of the impact of coronavirus on staff and people using care services.

The ESF covered the following four areas:

  • Safe care and treatment
  • Staffing arrangements
  • Protection from abuse
  • Assurance processes, monitoring, and risk management

During this period the CQC contacted our specialist residential care homes for adults with acquired brain injury at The Richardson Mews, The Coach House and 144 Boughton Green Road and our specialist residential care homes for adults with learning disabilities at 2 & 8 Kingsthorpe Grove.

For all of the homes contacted, the CQC concluded:

  • Infection risks to people using the services are being thoroughly assessed and managed.
  • The services have reliable access to the right personal protective equipment and C-19 testing for both staff and people who use the services.
  • The locations’ environments support the preventing and containing the transmission of infection.
  • Working arrangements and procedures are clear and accessible to staff, people who use the services, their supporters, and visitors to the services.
  • Medicines are being managed safely and effectively.
  • Risks to the health of people using the services are being properly assessed, monitored and managed.
  • There were enough suitable staff to provide people with safe care in a respectful and dignified way.
  • There were realistic and workable plans for managing any staffing shortfalls and emergencies.
  • People were being protected from abuse, neglect, discrimination, and loss of their human rights.
  • Safeguarding and other policies and practice, together with local systems, are properly managing any concerns about abuse and protecting people’s human rights.
  • The provider is monitoring and protecting the health, safety and wellbeing of staff.
  • The provider’s systems and methods for monitoring the overall quality of the service and for responding to business risks and issues as they arise are effective.
  • Staff are supported to raise concerns and give feedback about the service.
  • Care and treatment provided to people is being properly recorded.
  • The provider is able to work effectively with system partners when care and treatment is being commissioned, shared or transferred.

In addition, the summary from 2 & 8 Kingsthorpe Grove reported:

You had encouraged anyone with symptoms to self-isolate in their rooms. Staff engage all people with activities and help them make video calls to family and friends. You are supporting people to understand the risks associated with COVID 19 and to wear appropriate PPE as required. You are kept updated regarding COVID 19 through newsletters and government updates. You are sharing good practice, offering and gaining support from other care homes.

With regard to The Richardson Mews and The Coach House, the ESF summary reported:

From our discussion and other information about this location, we assess that you are managing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. You have systems in place which have ensured you have remained up to date with all relevant guidance. Management plans are in place to manage the assessed risk around COVID 19. To date there have been no confirmed cases of COVID 19 in either home.

With regard to 144 Boughton Green Road, the ESF summary reported:

You have enough staff on duty and have a contingency plan in place if staffing becomes a concern. You support staff by completing risk assessments, team meetings, providing specialised PPE and through supervisions.

As we are moving into the next phase of this pandemic, we want to thank our dedicated teams of managers and staff as well as our service users. They have all demonstrated strength, reliance, creativity and patience during this very challenging time.



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.



Adults with acquired brain injuries, learning disabilities and complex needs In addition to surveying the families of service users in our care on an annual basis, we also complete a questionnaire with the individuals themselves, which asks specific questions about different aspects of their lives within the care home. They are asked to respond using […]



Headway Approved Providers Two of our residential care homes for adults with acquired brain injuries – The Mews and 144 Boughton Green Road – have been recently re-assessed by Headway, the brain injury charity. The assessment process requires the home to demonstrate the provision of appropriate specialist care for people with complex, physical and/or cognitive […]



Online applications are transforming the way that we live and work, and at The Richardson Partnership for Care we are using them to help service users and their families keep in touch, and for the families to participate in the review process. Our service users with learning disabilities have an external review every 12 months […]



The Care Quality Commission, Public Health England and NHS Improving Quality have recently published reports commissioned by NHS England into the prescribing of psychotic drugs to people with learning disabilities. The research found that there is an alarming rate of over-prescribing of these drugs to people with learning difficulties: the report authored by Public Health […]



Jane Payne, Service Manager at The Richardson Partnership for Care is a finalist in the National Learning Disability and Autism Awards 2015. She was nominated for the Employer Award for her commitment to providing top quality care to people with learning disabilities by heading a group of specialist residential care homes in Northampton. Jane has […]



At The Richardson Partnership for Care, service users with learning disabilities are offered psychological support as well as learning opportunities and health and social care. The level and nature of the psychological therapy depends on the service user’s individual needs and is determined following an initial assessment or regular ongoing assessments. For example, intensive psychological […]


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