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Each service user at our specialist residential care homes has their own individual care plan, which is designed to provide therapies and activities to meet their needs and help them to reach their personal goals. These therapies may include psychological support, psychiatry, speech & language therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy as well as exercise and activities of daily living. Our aim is for these activities to be enjoyable and stimulating; not to necessarily feel like ‘therapy’ but to be part of the individual’s weekly routine.

One of the psychological therapies we provide is Cognitive Stimulation Therapy. It’s a weekly group activity and each session has a different focus, for example current affairs or creativity. Cognitive Stimulation Therapy aims to promote and reinforce growth in areas such as memory, concentration and communication. It also stimulates social interaction, increases confidence and well-being. The Cognitive Stimulation Therapy sessions are designed to be fun, and are person-centred, tailored to meet each individual’s needs and preferences.

In this blog post, we take a look at a recent Cognitive Stimulation Therapy session for some of our service users who have an acquired brain injury; what the session involves and how it benefits the individuals taking part. The session starts with orientation: reinforcing the time, date, place, season, etc. Then moves on to the activity of the week.

This time it’s creativity: making personal globes.

Each service user started by making their own personal paper mâché ‘globe’. This involved lots of PVA glue and tissue paper, stuck onto an inflated balloon. The service users chose the colours they wanted and got stuck in with the creative mess. This particular session was attended by several residents who don’t often engage in group activity, so this was amazing progress.

Once the paper mâché was dry, we popped the balloons and asked the guys to illustrate the globe with pictures that represented them as people. The results were quite amazing! On this occasion, Assistant Psychologist, Olivia, ran the session and was supported by Admissions Co-ordinator, Ebony. They had spent some time sourcing lots of images that may resonate with the service users, such as images to convey emotion, relationships, hobbies, family, careers and their brain injuries.

They jumbled all of the images around and, without much direction, the individuals started to pick out the images that spoke to them. This was such a great activity: it enabled the service users to express elements of their lives before their injuries and who they are as a person. As you’d expect, there were huge variations – one resident looked for an image of a diamond ring to represent his engagement, while another illustrated his many years as a taxi driver and love of chicken!

Ebony worked on a 1:1 basis with Andy*. He picked out the images and Ebony prompted him to think about why he chose them and how they resonate with him as an individual. This is what he said.

Smiling face: “I like this because he’s laughing. He represents my humour”

Water: “Because I love to swim.”

Glasses: “I wear glasses: they represent me physically.”

Watering can and growing plants: “Because I really like gardening – it could represent personal growth too”.

Couple in love: “This one represents my need to love and be loved. I would really like to get married one day.”

Hard hat: “This represents my former job as a labourer and how I really want to get back to work. I’d like to be a plumber or a bricklayer.”

Dog: “This represents my family dog and my love for animals.

Two men hugging: “This reminds me of my Dad. I have a very close relationship with him and it’s important to include this – he has grey hair too!”

Knife and fork: “I’m a typical man, always thinking about food!”

Yin and Yang: “I associate this with Thai Chi martial arts – my Dad teaches Thai Chi.” After a bit of research Andy decided to include it in his project as he felt it represented ‘life’.

A hospital: “This is a big part of my identity, I spent a lot of time in hospital, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.”

Ebony expressed how proud she was of Andy, as this was the first activity that he had fully engaged in enough to complete. He said he thought it was because it had really got him thinking and had been fun to do.

No two brain injuries are the same and person-centred care is all about treating the person, not the injury. Individuals are shaped by the lives that they had before their injury and we respect that person, aiming to restore as much of them as we can.

*We have changed the name of the service user to protect his identity

 


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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.


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

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

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