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Orchard Care Homes offers progress report on restructuring programme

Hayden Knight

Having overseen a radical transformation programme at Orchard Care Homes over the last 18 months, former CEO Tom Brookes has passed on the baton to Hayden Knight (pictured). CHP spoke with Tom and Hayden about the care home provider’s progress and its future goals.

“Orchard Care Homes has been on a transformational journey over the past 12-18 months, and I am proud of the senior management team and the staff across the regions who have whole-heartedly embraced the new systems and made them work in their homes,” Tom told CHP.

“Our new Quality Governance Framework has resulted in 71% of our homes being rated Good by the CQC – up from 47% less than two years ago.”

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Orchard Care Homes’ transformation is now continuing under the leadership of Hayden, an experienced senior professional with over 23 years’ experience in the sector.

Hayden said: “It’s important to recognise how much has been achieved in a short period of time. My focus over the next 12 months is to continue the journey of innovation, becoming a partner of choice for local authorities and a strong local employer.

“Our staff are our biggest strength. Many have been with us for years, decades even.

“My aim is that our people share the passion and commitment to help Orchard become a provider of choice, and create a culture where staff are reassured that feedback is always welcomed, where they feel confident enough to raise concerns and have opportunities to take on more senior roles.

“I fully appreciate that the current restructuring of the homes – in fact, any change in the workplace – can be challenging.  I am committed to making the transition as smooth as possible for all of our staff, residents and local authority partners.”

One of Orchard’s key achievements has been embedding a new Quality Monitoring Framework, where any possible risks within the home are identified.  Action plans are then developed and reviewed corporately to give the senior management team a much greater overview of every home’s performance, as well as the ability to respond quickly if standards fall short and identify lessons learned, reducing the risk of the issue arising elsewhere.

Quality is monitored at every level and quality standards are also reviewed by the Integrated Governance Assurance Board.

”One of our priorities was that the home managers should be empowered by the tools we devised to improve their service,” Tom noted.

“We launched a manager’s Five Point Toolkit that provides a clear framework for assessing the home on a weekly basis. It includes structures for daily team meetings (FLASH), systematic walk-arounds, daily reviews of resident and employee files (resident of the day, employee of the day) to ensure that residents’ notes, staff training and performance reviews are up to date. Home managers also visit the home at night once a month, unannounced, to be assured that quality is delivered 24-hours a day.”

Former Orchard CEO Tom Brookes

Today, Orchard is at the cutting edge of using technology to drive standards and improve efficiency as well as resident and staff experiences.

“As a result of the new digital strategy within Orchard, we have published new policies and protocols, launched improved staff training, embedded root cause analysis and lessons learnt, and invested in enhanced competency frameworks for our staff,” Tom said.

Hayden added: “I have been impressed by the level of digital innovation in Orchard, which has been fully embraced by the teams. It has made note-recording quick and easy and has allowed care staff to spend more time with residents.

“I’m also very proud that the innovation has been recognised externally by both the Care Home Professional Innovation in Care Award and Care England’s Care Innovation Challenge. Further award nominations have also been secured for innovation in dementia care as well as the strength of Orchard’s leadership.”

Tom reflected: “The journey between the initial decision to embed technology into day-to-day delivery of care and its implementation has included a series of staff engagement and communication initiatives. This has ensured that all staff understand the reasons for the streamlined system, removed any barriers to change and ensured clarity about the staff’s roles and responsibilities in the appropriate use of technology.”

Unprecedented times face the care industry and society as a whole. With dementia diagnosis on the rise and local authority budgets under significant pressures to deliver more for less, Orchard continues to enhance its provision to maintain its position of being a preferred provider for local authorities.

In the summer, it launched a new, evidence-based model of care – Reconnect – that aims to improve quality of life for people living with dementia and strengthen their relationships with their loved ones. At the same time, the service delivers significant savings for local authorities.

When people living with dementia present with more complex needs or challenging behaviours, they usually move to higher intensity services, such as mental health units, putting increased budgetary pressures on local authorities. Reconnect is designed to avoid multiple moves for a person with dementia. With higher staffing ratios and meaningful, therapeutic activities, multiple moves and overdependence on medication are reduced and often avoided.

Tom added: “We have invested close to £1m in building a therapeutic environment that provides opportunities for reminiscence and allows residents, with our support, to engage in everyday activities such as making meals, taking charge of their own healthcare, shopping and other domestic chores where possible – whatever fits in with their needs, comfort and safety. Meaningful engagement is important to our residents and their families. We have also developed therapeutic and engaging activities programmes to encourage residents to try something new, rediscover lost passions or fulfil their wishes.”

Dementia still carries a lot of stigma, and Orchard’s mission is to educate society about what dementia feels like and improve the lives of people with the disorder in the long term. The company recently published a children’s activity book, ‘Making Sense of Dementia’ that helps children to feel less confused when someone close to them is diagnosed with the condition.

Tom concluded: “I am very proud of how far we have come over the past two years. Under Hayden’s leadership, Orchard Care Homes will continue to focus on quality, creating a platform for growth to make the organisation sustainable for the future. Above all, the company wants to remain at the heart of the community, delivering exemplary, truly local care that we would all wish for our loved ones. I wish Hayden and the Orchard team all the best for the future.”

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The author Lee Peart

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