Godswell Park in Bloxham, Oxfordshire recently became one of a handful of care homes to be rated Outstanding in all five CQC criteria. CHP asked leadership team, Chairman Michael Bone and Registered Manager Dina Lee Rodriguez, how they did it.
Godswell Park was launched by business partners Michael Bone and Bob Lari in 2010. Michael started up his own care home after finding there was nowhere that he was happy to have his mother stay in.
“I spoke to Bob about the problems of finding a suitable home and we thought: ‘why not do it ourselves?’” Michael told me.
Having found the site in 2008, the partners set out on a significant extension of the existing period building into the current service that provides nursing care and support for up to 48 people as well as a further 10 assisted living apartments.
Having set up the home and hired 40 staff with the help of Dina, the team had to wait a further two months before obtaining registration with CQC. The home welcomed its first residents in January 2011.
Dina said: “Having our staff in the home for a period of time before our residents, we were able to develop our ethos and training, reflecting our way of thinking and working, so that they knew our expectations from day one.”
Godswell Park was rated Good by the CQC in 2014 but the team was disappointed to be given Requires Improvement for the Safe category largely because of the shortcomings of its then paper based medication system.
“We took that report very much on board,” Michael told us.
“We learned an awful lot from that inspection. That’s really what spurred us on.”
Following the CQC findings, Michael and Dina were quick to act and introduce Omnicell’s eMARx system, now known as eMAR.
Dina said: “Within two weeks of introduction we had adopted it throughout the building. Staff took to it quite easily. It’s so accurate. You can actually see how many tablets you have left. It makes it much easier to ensure accuracy.
“The other thing that we have learnt in the past 18 months was to encourage staff to take pride in their achievements. It’s natural not to want to show off, so we explained to staff that they should share their experiences with the inspectors and show they were confident in what they were doing.
“The CQC are looking for examples of good practice. They’re not looking to find fault. Our staff were proud to tell them what they were doing and why they thought they were Outstanding.”
Having a settled team with a caring ethos was a further crucial factor in securing Outstanding.
In order to achieve the highest levels of personalised care, Dina operates a strict ‘no agency’ policy.
“I am adamant about not having agency workers because they are not able to give the continuity of care we require,” Dina said. “Our staffing levels allow us to cover sickness and unforeseen events.”
Staff undergo a rigorous training programme and are incentivised to take ownership of the care they provide by being given extra responsibility and recognition.
“You can have the loveliest environment but if the people within it don’t have that vision and that drive and caring values the building will do nothing,” Dina said.
“We recently had a hog roast for the staff to celebrate Outstanding. We throw a party every year. We give staff tokens. It’s not always the financial thing. If they feel cared for and appreciated they pass that onto the residents.”
Michael added: “If they have a specialism they want to develop, whether it be palliative care or diabetes care or nutrition and hydration, they are strongly encouraged and supported to do that.”
Staff are trained not to be task orientated and to adopt a fluid approach with their days planned around residents.
“Dependent upon their previous experience we may have to ‘deskill’ them, especially when they have been very task orientated or clock watching,” Michael said.
“That’s the antipathy of what we want. We want our staff to spend time with the residents and not look at it as a task but as a pleasure.”
Godswell Park’s innovative approach to personalised care was another key aspect in its spectacular CQC result.
The ‘can do’ attitude of Michael and Dina led to the introduction of a number of unique care innovations, including a flock of sheep, which residents help to care for.
Their drive to always do better has led Michael and Dina to look far and wide for innovations and best practice.
Godswell Park was the first care home in the UK to introduce a therapeutic sun room for the use of residents and staff.
Michael came upon the Swedish invention following a visit with Dina to Gothenburg to see these in action in a variety of Swedish care homes.
“We do a lot of research,” Michael told me. “The UK isn’t the leader in elderly care by any means. One of the advantages we have in being a one off entity is we take a decision there and then. We have a can do attitude. We have to be inventive and innovative.”
The sun room works by simulating daylight and temperatures during different parts of the day. Residents and carers are able to talk and relax together in the room’s tropical beach setting for periods of around 30 minutes.
“It’s very good for palliative care, for osteoporosis and Vitamin D deficiency,” Michael said.
Dina added: “It’s amazing how our residents are able share memories about their holidays and their experience of being abroad, inspired by being in the sun room. They find links with each other. It is a good opportunity for us to get to know them a bit better also. It’s a brilliant way to relax during the darker winter months.”
Michael and Dina also went the extra mile in providing better care by purchasing a German designed Ageing Suit which simulates elderly immobility and sight and hearing impairment symptoms.
Staff are asked to don the suit in order to experience how difficult it is for residents to perform simple daily tasks such as eating, getting up and going to the toilet.
“It is amazing for understanding even more what people’s lives are like,” Dina said.
Michael said: “My philosophy has always been to create an environment and a level of service that I would be proud to provide for my own mother. This underpins everything that Godswell Park does.”