Meadowlark Care Home Forres acting manager on meeting residents' needs
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A LOCAL carer believes listening his the key to her work's success.
Care nurse and acting home manager at Meadowlark Care Home, Casey Whittaker, has confirmed that, despite the difficulties it faced during the coronavirus pandemic, the residents and her team have come out closer than ever.
She said: "Before the pandemic, the staff and residents were already a tight knit team. We spend a lot of time making sure we know the residents personally so we can assess their care and personal needs, likes and dislikes to help us deliver the best quality care for each individual.
"When lockdown came in, our normal routines quickly changed and what was usually a very lively social life for the residents in the home was reduced to one-to-one visits by staff only - no family visits and no group socialising. This isolation was hard on the residents, but thankfully, our prior knowledge allowed us to react fast and implement activities and tasks for each person to spark interest or engage them."
The effects of boredom and loneliness in elderly people cannot be underestimated so Meadowlark organised socially distanced sing-a-longs, arts and crafts, and discussion.
Visits from loved ones is always a highlight for residents so residents were given iPads to maintain regular communication with the outside world.
Ms Whittaker said: "Technology has played a key role in keeping everyone safe and connected. It’s been fantastic to watch the residents take to modern technology and learn something new.
"We also have regular FaceTime sessions so they can "meet" family, as well as posting regular Facebook updates to our dedicated page which has really helped in letting loved ones know what we’re up to."
However, the qualified mental health nurse stresses the importance of an open ear.
She said: "The most important thing when giving personalised and holistic care is listening. We are taking the time to understand the individual, gauging the things they are not saying through their body language which is sometimes more telling than the words they speak.
"This also applies to the resident’s families who we often have personal relationships with too. They have great insight so listening to them helps us provide the best quality care and always improve."
Ms Whittaker's training as a mentor while working in the NHS equipped her with the skills to personalise the training she gives to her staff.
She said: "I love teaching and learning from the people I work with. Everyone’s opinion is valuable and helps us develop a stronger and highly skilled team.
"The past couple of months has been very testing, but the relationships built during this time has brought us together and prepared us for any challenge we may face in the future."
Renaissance Care operates 15 care homes across Scotland, with over 1000 staff and close to 700 beds. Meadowlark is on Mannachie Road.