EXCLUSIVE: Home manager works turnaround magic  

Maggie Coleman

OSJCT Registered Manager Maggie Coleman tells CHP how she has gone about turning around the recently rated Requires Improvement Chilterns Court Care Centre in Henley.

OSCJT Registered Manager Maggie Coleman is no stranger to troubled homes. She recently transformed OSCJT’s Townsend House residential home in Oxfordshire from Inadequate to Good in six months.

So when Chilterns Court Care Centre in Henley was rated Requires Improvement in March last year, Maggie was the obvious person to bring in to turn it around.

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Maggie has been in the care sector for 30 years, including four years with OSJCT and previous managerial roles in learning disability and domiciliary care.

Chilterns Court, which opened in November 2016, is a 64 bed home providing a wide range of nursing, dementia and residential care.

The home works closely with a neighbouring hospital to provide intermediate and rapid access care.

It received its last CQC inspection just five weeks after residents had been moved in from another OSJCT home.

“It was very challenging for the staff to be inspected so soon after moving the residents in,” Maggie told me.

“Their focus was on making sure that everyone was transferred safely.”

While inspectors rated the service Good for Caring, it was rated Requires Improvement in all other categories with the inspectors highlighting issues with staff shortages, heavy agency reliance, poor staff morale and a lack of effective leadership.

Chilterns Court

Chilterns Court

Maggie was brought in soon after the inspection along with Head of Care, Joanna Wojcicka, as part of OSJCT’s action plan to improve the service.

Touring the home with Maggie it was immediately obvious to see the transformation that she had brought about.

It was clear she had a good rapport with staff and residents as we toured the home’s three floors.

The first resident we met told me: “She’s a good woman; be nice to her!”

Team Leader Debbie Cholwill said: “Maggie is exceptional. We have a really good manager. Morale is so much better. We feel more relaxed and she is very supportive.”

Chilterns Court’s rural location has meant the service has had an unusually high reliance on agency staff.

Agency use was 80% when Maggie took on the role.

Through an active recruitment programme, Maggie has managed to reduce this to a still relatively high 40%.

“There are lots of care homes in this area which makes attracting staff challenging,” Maggie said.

“The train service here does not match our shift pattern so it is very difficult for people to come here.”

To ensure continuity of care, Maggie has established a core group of agency staff that residents have come to know.

“They are committed to the home,” Maggie said.

“People like working here.”

Chilterns Court manages to remain competitive with the other two care homes in the area by offering additional incentives for weekend working.

Maggie has also worked to restore staff morale through being supportive and attentive to their concerns.

“My door is always open,” she said.

“Sickness absences were horrendous before I came here,” Maggie added.

“People felt they couldn’t cope. There was no consistency of care. I am a very calm manager. I make sure we are not overstretched. I will help out if needed whenever there is a shortage.”

Chilterns Court's themed music room

Chilterns Court’s themed music room

Maggie has established eight week advance rotas to make sure each shift is adequately covered.

She has set up weekly meetings with staff to listen to their concerns or simply have a chat.

As part of the home’s action plan following its CQC inspection, Maggie and her team have rewritten the service’s 48 care plans and ensured they are reviewed on a monthly basis.

“We are confident that the care plans are of a standard that we would expect,” Maggie told me.

She has also provided training on how to write better care plans. Close to 100% of the staff have now been trained in the Mental Capacity Act.

Maggie has also built a good relationship with the regional CQC inspector since taking on her role.

She kept the CQC up to date with the home’s action plan on the issues raised by inspectors. With the action plan having been completed, Maggie said the team is ready for the return of the CQC this year.

“Everyone here is 100% committed,” Maggie said. “Everyone is aware of what we expect of them.”

Looking ahead, Maggie plans to build on the ‘feel good’ factor she has restored to the home by investing in iPads for the residents so that they can keep in touch with their relatives.

Children from the local school will be coming to read to residents each week from this month and OSJCT’s Admiral Nurses will be holding monthly Dementia Café meetings with the local community in the home’s cafe.

Speaking to Carole Reardon whose husband John is a resident at the home as I left it was clear that Maggie’s recipe for success was working.

“They’re the most incredible set of carers here,” Carole told me.

“I don’t think they can be faulted. Maggie is the driving force. She is at the helm. She’s doing a wonderful job.”

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