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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.


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Once again, Admissions & Referrals Co-ordinator Ebony has come up with a novel idea to engage our service users, who have acquired brain injuries, in a range of activities. With the usual activities restricted due to the Coronavirus safety measures, we have been finding new ways to keep service users active and engaged, supporting their mental well-being, physical health and cognitive skills. This time we present The Richardson Games!

We are fortunate to have a large hall at The Richardson Mews, which we use for a wide range of activities. On this occasion, we set up a range of activity stations where service users worked on a one-to-one basis with a staff member. Each pair then worked their way around the hall.

Having various games and activities happening at once boosts a variety of skills such as adapting to change (stopping the activity they are doing and moving on to something else) orientation (to the new task at hand) and, of course, provided some healthy competition, exercise and fun!

Each pair had to read the instructions of the game/activity upon arrival to the activity station. The activity stations were:

  1. Balloon Tennis

Balloon tennis is the same as table tennis, but we use a balloon instead of a ball. This allows us to slow down the game, ensuring all our service users have an equal opportunity to play and join in the fun. It’s a favourite amongst our service users and it’s sometimes difficult to encourage them to come away from the game to have a rest or do something else. So it was great to have this as part of The Games, making it easier to encourage service users to move on to another task.

  1. Pairs

A simple game of pairs, using colours: turning two cards over with the aim of making a colour pair. Everyone enjoyed this game, which works on short term memory skills by encouraging our service users to remember the placement of the cards in order to match and make pairs.

  1. Cups

With little instruction, our service users were given plastic cups and were asked to make a tower using all of the cups. This encouraged cognitive skills such as planning (the structure of the tower) along with other skills like coordination and balance. It was just as fun knocking down the towers at the end as it was to build them!

  1. Bowling

Who doesn’t love bowling? Our service users really enjoy this activity as it is inclusive of all presentations with minimal support. We were all very surprised when our service user John, got several strikes in a row with complete ease. He had kept his bowling talents a secret from us!

  1. Rest

This was the least popular station, but it was important to include the opportunity to have a rest alongside lots of games and exercise.

The Richardson Games were a great success, bringing everyone together in a fun activity, boosting morale and supporting skills development.


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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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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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The Mews, one of our homes providing residential care and rehabilitation for adults with acquired brain injuries in Northampton was once again rated ‘Good’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Following an unannounced inspection on 17 & 19 January 2018, The Mews was rated ‘Good’ by the CQC in all categories: Safe, effective, caring, responsive […]



Voice Ability is an advocacy service providing independent advocacy for people aged over 18. The organisation supports people who use adult mental health care services with issues about mental health and social care. Voice Ability also provides a quality checking service for a range of organisations including Northamptonshire County Council, the CQC and NHS Trusts. […]



Wild Science, a specialist animal education group, brought some inhabitants of their ‘mini zoo’ to The Mews recently, where service users from all of our homes could take part in an ‘animal therapy’ session. For service users who have mobility difficulties, or for people who would find visiting a real zoo an over-stimulating environment, the […]



We recently introduced a ‘News and Current Affairs Group’ to two of our care homes for adults with acquired brain injuries. They comprise twice weekly sessions of half an hour each. Originally run by psychologists, support workers have now been trained to run the sessions in which newspaper articles are read and discussed by the […]



Northamptonshire County Council employs Total Voice Northamptonshire to provide independent quality checking services. Total Voice is an advocacy service and part of VoiceAbility, which champions the rights and strengthens the voice of people who face disadvantage or discrimination. Total Voice recently carried out a review of The Mews, one of our homes providing residential care […]


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