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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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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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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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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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As our service is expanding, we need to recruit more care support workers so we decided to create a video to show that working in care can be truly rewarding.

The video shows care support workers and managers talking candidly about why they love working for Richardson Care, and the satisfaction that they get from supporting the service users. For example, Tracey, an Activity Support Worker says: “I’ve worked in care for over 20 years and this [home] is just perfect!”

Other staff talk about the support they are given by managers and team leaders and that they are empowered to provide the best care to meet each individual’s needs. They give plenty of examples of the variety in their role and the activities they take part in with the service users.

We’re very proud of our team and are fortunate to have a relatively low turnover of staff. Not only do we offer a range of employment benefits, but we strive to create a happy working and living environment. We know that the demand for care workers is high so we thought we’d try a different approach of creating a video to encourage more people to come and join us.

Please watch and share our video.

 


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The Coach House is our newest specialist residential care home and our third dedicated to adults with acquired brain injury. It is adjacent to The Richardson Mews and under a joint CQC Registration. It is a self-contained home and run by Registered Homes Manager, Jo Wilkins.

We launched The Coach House on 24th January 2019 and the CQC registration process was completed last summer. The first service users arrived in August and after just six months, we’re pleased to report that one of them was able to be discharged earlier this month.

Goal setting and care plan

Andrew* had sustained an hypoxic brain injury following a cardiac arrest 14 months prior to his arrival at Richardson Care, and came to us from a hospital neurological rehab setting. Members of our multi-disciplinary team (MDT) assessed Andrew and prepared a care plan for him. Goals were set for Andrew at the point of admission, with the aim of enabling him to move to a location closer to his family.

Andrew’s goals included:

  • Increasing his independence with personal care
  • Maximising his engagement in community access
  • Reducing his frustration in relation to his limitations
  • Reducing his wandering at night
  • Participation in elements of meal preparation

A small consistent care team supported Andrew on a daily basis, reinforcing the therapies implemented by the MDT. He built a good rapport with some of the members of the team, which was instrumental in his support and rehabilitation.

Gains achieved

Andrew made good gains in personal care and in mobility. He has been receptive to daily walking practice and he has been supported to access the community every day, which he does using a wheelchair due to stability and fatigue issues. He can also transfer more independently. Although The Coach House is located in private grounds, it has a wide range of shops, cafes, etc. in the immediate vicinity. Richardson Care has a good relationship with local businesses, which enhances the experience of service users when accessing the local community.

Although Andrew still presents with challenging behaviour, he has been able to reduce his frustrations and manage his behaviour more effectively. He engaged well with his care team, who found that distraction and diversion techniques were effective in reducing Andrew’s agitation due to his cognitive deficits.

Regarding elements of meal preparation, Andrew now actively participates in selecting menu choices every day with the support of staff. He will also initiate helping himself to a drink left on the table beside him without prompts from staff. These make important contributions to his overall well-being.

Positive outcome

Within six months, Andrew had made sufficient gains in all of his goals to enable him to be discharged to a residential setting closer to his family. It is hoped that with continued close supervision and increased family contact, he will be able to continue his rehabilitation from his brain injury.

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


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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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