Shahnaaz (pictured centre with her Dementia Care Award) describes the “great journey” she has been on with Sandown Park Centre since being part of the home’s original team 10 years ago.
How did you join Sandown Park Care Home?
I was here from day one: the home was commissioned 10 years ago and I was part of the original team. It’s been a great journey for me as I feel my vision has been built into the bricks and mortar here.
I’ve been very fortunate to be able to implement my view of what a dementia care home should be, having been influenced by the incredible work of Professor Thomas Kitwood and his theory of person-centred card, along with the work of Dr Gemma Jones and her positive vision of caregiving and communication in dementia. Their approaches to dementia care and nurturing ‘personhood’ have greatly inspired me.
What is special about Sandown Park?
Without a doubt the staff are what makes Sandown Park special. I recruited everyone personally – many of whom I had worked with previously – and with a few exceptions, many of the original team are still here almost a decade later.
We have a great combination of cultures, skills, experience and expertise; yet all with the same drive, commitment, vision and passion as me. We are like one big family. The success of the home is down to each and every one of us playing our part.
What do you find most rewarding about your job?
I would say the greatest reward is knowing we are all making a positive difference to the individual lives of our residents, which has a positive impact on their families too.
I am passionate about person-centred care and understanding the person ‘behind’ the dementia; by understanding their personal beliefs, abilities, life experiences and relationships, it teaches us how to respond to challenging behaviours.
What has been your proudest moment?
I truly love my job, and although I shy away from personal glory, winning the manager of the year award at the national Dementia Care Awards was an extremely proud moment for me personally, however, by far my proudest moment was when Sandown Park received its ‘outstanding’ rating from the CQC.
That achievement was a reflection of the team’s work and commitment, and knowing that despite the challenges that come with working in the care industry, together we are able to make a difference; that gives me a huge sense of pride.
What has been your greatest challenge and how did you overcome it?
Our biggest challenge is recruitment; finding the right people who are committed and share our vision and ethos is very important to me.
Tell us three things you need to provide great care?
As a person, you need compassion, understanding and empathy.
How do you relax?
I love my job and I occasionally worry that I’m attached to the bricks here at Sandown Park, but I do enjoy relaxing. I’m originally from South Africa, and I love travelling with my husband and children. We all enjoy being together, eating, cooking, and going back to South Africa, as well as travelling to other places. On holiday, I’m just ‘Mom’, and that’s special time for me.
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