An unprecedented year

Reflections on an unprecedented year in the life of a care home

Owner of Birchwood House and Care Services, Niral Patel, provides his personal reflections on the last 9 months of 2020, says thank you to staff, and shares how he continues to be optimistic in the run-up to Christmas.

As the daylight hours get shorter and the outside temperatures slowly lower, I thought it was a good time to reflect on the past 9 months at Birchwood and share with you how we continue to be positive for the future. As you will no doubt be aware, the care home and home care service industry has, arguably, been one of the most challenging sectors to work in since the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic. But by having an ‘ahead of the curve’ mentality and strategy, we’ve been successful in ensuring our residents and staff continue to live and work in a safe and secure environment. My staff deserve my heartfelt thanks and huge credit for delivering a first-class, personal service to all our residents and home care clients.

Staff have had to step up and make huge personal sacrifices

Where many disciplines have and could transfer to working from home, my staff have had to take on huge personal responsibility and sacrifices to adapt to new guidelines and safety procedures 24 hours a day, not just during their working hours, but in their home life too. Their round the clock vigilance and professionalism to stringent hygiene and safety practices have ensured our care delivery has not been compromised. I am very proud of their commitment to our residents’ and clients’ safety and well-being. With our decision to restrict outside visits from external service professionals, they have adapted and taken on new roles in the process. They’ve enhanced their own abilities, uncovered new skills and now can provide services some of us take for granted. For example, we now have a dedicated in-house hairdresser ensuring residents can maintain the hairstyles they have become accustomed to as well as feel a little pampered. So, I wanted to personally say a big thank you to all.

Safe and secure visiting area

I’m also proud to be able to say we’ve continued safe and secure family visits for our residents, with up to 3 visits scheduled every day in our secure meeting area. With alignment with all government and health guidelines, our residents have been able to stay in contact with their nearest and dearest for up to 20 mins per meeting. Very early on it occurred to me how integral it was for the residents’ well-being to maintain face to face contact, so we were able to instigate this in June.  It’s certainly helped to maintain high spirits for all and we hope to do everything we can to continue these in the weeks and months ahead. 

For any new residents arriving at Birchwood, we are providing an extra, dedicated member of the care team to support them as they settle in. With families unable to be present during their arrival for safety reasons, our extra support ensures the family receive added assurance they are in good hands. 

Keeping spirits high indoors

With both Halloween and a recent Guy Fawkes night celebrated, it’s always a special time of year now coming up to Christmas and we are planning to hold as many of the festivities for all our residents and clients. We’re also exploring ideas to maintain links with the local community and charities but more to come on those plans in December. 

I’m proud of everything we’ve achieved here at Birchwood this year, both within our Care Home in Speldhurst, Birchwood House, and from our care in the community, through Birchwood Care Services.  Every member of staff and all the partners we’ve worked with (and there are far too many to list) have gone beyond the call of duty and provided exceptional care during this extraordinary year. 

If you have any questions about Birchwood please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me and I’d be happy to talk to you. In the meantime, thank you again to my staff, thank you for reading and hope you are all staying safe and secure.

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