EXCLUSIVE: Country Court Care activities lead shares recipe for success

CHP meets with Country Court Care Regional Activities Manager Jade Curtis to find out how she provides a varied and busy wellness programme to stimulate the bodies and minds of residents.

The first thing that strikes me when arriving at Country Court Care’s Ferrars Hall care home in Huntingdon is its central location. Slap bang in the town centre it’s easy for the home’s residents to still feel part of the community. Residents in one of the lounges watch people shopping at the local Aldi or just look at the cars going by.  Many of the care homes I have seen have been in secluded out of town areas which can, while being calming and often picturesque, accentuate feelings of isolation and separation from the community.

I’m here to meet Jade Curtis, Regional Activities Manager, who co-ordinates and shares best practice across Country Court Care’s 27 homes.

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“We want people to be able to continue with their normal lives and do the things they have always done,” Jade tells me.

“Things don’t stop when they come here.”

Residents take regular trips out into the town to shop or go to pubs and restaurants.

“Moving here is just the beginning of a new part of our residents’ lives,” Jade says.

“We want to provide them with a new lease of life and show them that we can actually improve their lives.”

Maintaining links with the community is big part of this process for Jade.

The home is a hive of activity with constant comings and goings from and to the local community. Ferrars Hall hosts a Film Club where local people and residents can socialise. It also plans to hire out his facilities to the local jazz club.

Strong links are maintained with the local church, with residents regularly attending services. Local school children come into the home to join in a wide range of events, including animal petting sessions.

On a memorable day for the residents this year, local US servicemen came to help celebrate a 1940s nostalgia day.

The community library bus is a regular visitor allowing residents to carry on with their passion for reading.

Social media is used by Country Court Care to keep in touch with the local community. Each of Country Court Care’s homes has its own facebook site where news of events and pictures can be shared.

A welcoming family room with toys for the kids to play with at Ferrars Hall ensures residents’ families can feel comfortable when they come to visit their loved ones.

Jade and her team ensure that residents are getting the activities they want by asking for their comments and suggestions.

The team makes sure every resident is offered a wide range of activities and stimulation by incorporating the Country Court Care Wellness Wheel into care plans.

The Wheel covers eight activity categories designed to meet residents’ vocational, social, intellectual, physical and mental well-being needs.

A packed, constantly changing array of in-house activities, includes cup cake making and exercise classes, which are a firm favourite.

Male residents, meanwhile, are catered for through a weekly gentleman’s club featuring dominoes and snacks.

“We want people to carry on having new experiences and learning new things,” Jade said.

Another highlight is the private dining evenings laid on once a month at Ferrars where four or five residents get to dine with the managing director or another member of the senior management team over a special menu.

“It’s something really special for them,” Jade said.

“It provides a great opportunity to get their opinions across.”

One on one time is available for those who prefer their own company and who want to stay in their rooms.

A Wish Tree, meanwhile, has been set up in the home’s reception to grant people’s wishes.

Jade and her team also a take a big role in ensuring the wellbeing of residents living with dementia.

Jade tells me that Doll Therapy had been highly effective in improving the mood of dementia residents.

“It’s really working,” Jade said.

“They have a real calming effect on people who can get agitated. They give them a focus.

“It’s a way of dealing with things before they escalate.”

An extra bed has been prepared for one resident who likes to sleep with her doll.

“They see the dolls as their children,” Jade said.

“This lady was a lot calmer when she knew her doll was with her during the night.”

The dolls have also helped encourage residents to eat and get on with their daily routines.

Jade and her team work tirelessly to ensure their residents’ wants are met, whatever their need.

Judging by the smiles on residents’ faces and the caring interaction I saw between staff and residents, it’s an approach that’s really working.

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