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The rewards of mental health care

At PrimeLife we always try to go above and beyond what is expected within the care industry, but this is particularly true of our practices in mental health care.

Although mental illness is common there is still a strong social stigma attached to it, and people’s conditions are often made worse by the discrimination they receive. In our experience we understand that there can be positive outcomes both long-term and permanent, providing that the proper support is given.

In fact, mental health care across all of our seventeen specialist homes is nothing but rewarding for everyone involved.
For starters, our mental health care homes feel homely. Many visitors are often shocked at how ‘normal’ the homes are when they arrive. As well as comfortable living and outdoor areas, a lot of the homes offer residents the ability to live in their own private flat, such as is the case at Island Place, Leicester.

Whilst for many in homes their mental health problems are often linked to violence and an inability to sustain relationships, we experience and promote strong sense of friendship and community within our homes. Residents will meet regularly, either once a week or every month, to catch up with each other and make social plans such as where they would all like to go on holiday for that year. These meetings help to enhance the group dynamic, and whilst staff members are involved it is the residents that are happy to lead these discussions.

Activities outside of the home are extremely important too. One of our care home managers, at Old Station Close in Leicestershire, Bernie Moscrop, has set up several initiatives around community involvement. The ‘Old Station Rambling Club’ allows residents to ‘get together and go for a nice walk, whether it be near or far’. Meanwhile, the ‘Diners Club’ offers residents the chance to choose where they would like to eat and make reservations at local restaurants.

Activities like these help to give residents many benefits, such as raised self-esteem. One resident of the home would struggle to bath or shave himself when he first arrived at Old Station Close, but Diners Club has changed this; he now thoroughly enjoys getting ready for the evening ahead and often wears a suit! What’s more, we’ve learned that residents will actually sleep better as a result. The natural tiredness from these activities has even helped to reduce the levels of extra medication that some would previously need in order to relax.

Helping residents to build their own independence is another huge part of the supported living that our care homes provide. Claire Hopkins, manager of Stoneygate Road Care Home and Island Place Care Centre, stresses the importance of keeping restrictions to a minimum; ‘we don’t want to pressure residents with negative rules’. Similarly, Carol Jones at Old Station Close has set up a positive recognition scheme whereby residents can carry out some of the support worker duties if they want to, such as tidying their own room or folding their clothes. The number of tasks carried out by each resident is recorded on a monthly basis and we find that this helps them work towards achieving new goals.

Initiatives like this greatly improve residents’ quality of life but they also encourage residents to learn new skills. At Old Station Close, residents are given the opportunity to join in on some courses and training that staff members themselves receive. For example, one resident, Melvin, has just completed a fire safety training course that he can use in job applications should he wish to complete them in the future. Likewise, 50 year-old Jenny was helped at Stoneygate Road to complete her level 5 NVQ in health and social childcare. Ashlands Care Home also provided Jenny with a work placement that helped her to complete this qualification, and it was a really positive achievement for her after a long background of severe violence.

Above all, staff members are experienced, dedicated and most importantly positive in all aspects of their duties. Claire ‘loves to see her residents’ achievements’ and Bernie comments that it is ‘so rewarding to watch them grow within themselves and take on more responsibility’.