Last week Community Integrated Care won best care home at the National Dementia Awards for their specialist home, EachStep Blackburn.
We have been partners with EachStep since before it opened; both through our work integrating Community Circles, and with our Associate Gill Bailey spending a day each week there to coach and support staff to implement person-centred practices. You can learn more about the partnership in this short film clip.
This great news has given us an appropriate point to reflect on our journey, and I’d like to share three reasons why I think EachStep is a real winner.
1) Active partnership with community organisations
John Hughes and his colleagues at Community Integrated Care worked incredibly hard to build connections and partnerships with the local community, even before EachStep was built. These are connections that they have continued to develop. In doing this, the team has provided an invaluable foundation on which people who live at the home have been supported to connect with their community too. These connections have also been a springboard for Community Circles.
Cath, our Community Circles Connector who works at EachStep, has also benefited from these rich connections and built on relationships with the local partners that the Community Integrated Care team had already put in place. Cath has been able to:
- recruit facilitators from Ivy St Community Centre, Blackburn College and the Carers Service,
- work with Blackburn College to develop a bespoke qualification for Community Circles facilitators,
- create volunteering opportunities for someone who lives at the home with the help of Ivy Street Community Centre,
- and get someone involved in dancing again, also through Ivy Street Community Centre.
The community partnerships go further than the work that EachStep has been doing with Community Circles, too. They have made community engagement a reality in a range of different and innovative ways, from offering the use of their cinema room to local young carers, to connecting with schools to support the development of a dementia friendly community.
This type of bigger picture thinking is an integral part of looking after a person’s ‘whole life’ wellbeing. It is about supporting them to live well not just within the home itself, but as an active and contributing member of their local community as a whole.
2) Investment in building community connections with individuals
In addition to working on organisational partnerships, EachStep was keen to develop a way for individuals living at the home to stay personally connected to their community in a way that reflected what matters to them. As a result, Each Step is the first care home to have a full-time Community Circles Connector based there, who works alongside the home’s Activities Co-ordinator.
A Community Circle brings together a small group of people to help someone they know, giving them both the opportunity to find out what they can best do to help and the structure to make it happen. The Circle helps to share tasks, and keeps everyone in the loop about how things are going. Members meet every few weeks with the person being supported and their volunteer Circle facilitator, who keeps things on track and makes sure that conversations turn into actions.
If it sounds simple, that’s because it is – but Circles are a great way of helping people to do more of what matters to them. It is social activism around an individual that keeps people connected to family and friends, and can introduce new people into their life as well.
The aim for a full-time Connector like Cath is to develop 20 Circles in the first year, followed by 40 Circles in subsequent years. Seven months after opening Cath is on target with 11 Community Circles, with a further 8 facilitators completing their training.
An Activity Co-ordinator and a Community Circles Connector are two roles that complement each other perfectly. Depending on the home’s size, a part-time role for each could even work.
By their very nature, Circles are personalised and individual – the person is being supported by other people in their life to do more of what matters to them. To deliver this amount of individual time through paid staff would require an increase in costs, but by activating personal relationship networks and working with the community we are delivering both outcomes and value-for-money; as well as moving in line with the best practice community involvement talked about in the Care Act and the NHS Five Year Forward View.
An Activities Co-ordinator needs to look at the interests of the whole group, and whilst some individual time might be available – as it is at EachStep – this will mean that they need to take a broader view of the activities they plan in to make sure they bring the most benefit.
By employing both Circles Connector and an Activities Co-ordinator, the home is therefore able to:
- identify people’s individual interests really clearly through person-centred practices and Circle meetings;
- support the person to do more of what matters to them through their Circle and their personal relationship network; and
- through sharing what the Circle learns with the Activity Co-ordinator, they are better-placed to know what matters to all of their residents and potentially be able to bring together groups of people who share similar interests within the home.
You can read more about Community Circles in the new ‘Innovations in Dementia’ e-book, here.
3) Focus on embedding person-centred practices
At the beginning of our partnership with EachStep we agreed what ‘good’ looks like and how we could keep checking how well we are doing in relation to being person-centred.
We created a version of the ‘Progress for Providers’ self-assessment tool specifically for EachStep, so we could track where we were starting and move towards the maximum score of 5 in each area. Progress for Providers provides a format that can be adapted to reflect what is important to an individual organisation in terms of values, behaviours and actions. You can see EachStep’s version here, and explore the whole series here.
We also developed a framework for using person-centred practices with each person who lives at Each Step. This clarity meant that each and every person living at the home is able to share what really matters to them, that staff are fully aware of this, and that this is kept up-to-date as things change.
A graphic was developed to capture the detail of what this framework looked like. The graphic has been changed as we learned what worked and what did not work. Here is the most up-to-date version of the EachStep process. Staff have been trained and supported to follow this through e-learning, on-the-job coaching and sessions with our Associate Gill Bailey. Paperwork was co-developed to reflect this approach.
We’re incredibly proud to have been part of the EachStep journey. Of course, there are many other reasons they have received this award – from the quality of their built environment, their understanding and approach to diversity, and more. We think that they are also demonstrating a different way to think about community – at an organisation, and an individual level.
To learn more about person-centred approaches for people with dementia, visit our e-learning page or explore our training courses.
To see how Community Circles can help people to live happier, healthier and more connected lives with the support of those around them, visit their website.
To learn about self-assessing progress in providing person-centred practices, visit the Progress for Providers website.