One letter changed everything
Shortly after I published my last blog in 2017, one letter brought devastating uncertainty for both residents and staff. The (then) owners told us in writing that they were looking for a buyer for many of their homes in the North of England particularly. All the homes with a nurse on duty 24 hrs a day, what they termed “care with nursing”. Confusingly, the previous owners kept the majority of their other homes.
I had naively assumed that our previous owners would be unlikely to sell given that most of us would need more care in the future, not less. As consumers of a service (especially nursing-funded rexidents) we were a guaranteed income stream for the organisation. After all, they’d operated this building as a residential home since the 1970’s. Many in my local community knew the home was there, but many didn’t. I was helping to raise our profile, til everything changed. I, like others was blind-sided, and in my case, too angry to write for a time.
A neccessary disclaimer
When I did write, I wanted to attempt to write with more diplomacy. This is that effort, on at least the fourth draft. I must emphasise that the following is my own personal understanding of that time and not representative of the former or current owners of the residential home.
I did learn through a service-user consultation event that the previous owners were reinventing their organisation to be more public-facing, hence certain homes were not part of that. When I began to ask questions of interim management I was dismayed to find the decision was also motivated by the astronomical cost of long neglected repairs to the building. Again, this is my opinion and mine alone, but residents and staff were simply collateral damage of the decisions made. I was brutally honest in my replies to the consultation questions as the uncertainty was crippling. This continued for many months, leaving residents and staff in limbo. Finally, in August 2019, power transfered to the new owners.
The norm, then the storm…
At first the main difference was a change of regional and overall bosses from a different head office. At a residents meeting which families also attended, promises were made that repairs could be financed and carried out according to servayors reports. (Unfortunately, there’s little evidence of this now, but the reassurances helped at the time.)
Staffing in my home stayed the same initially, as did their pay and conditions from the previoys employer for a fixed term. Slowly, staff began to leave to other jobs or into higher education. There are staff that left years ago who I still miss. I cherish those staff who work in partnership with me to give me personalised assistance and form a good working relationship. The high turnover of staff from then on continues. Part of this is the turnover in the Care Sector in general, combined with the severe UK-wide shortage of Care Sector staff. There are many reasons for this. A subject for another day.
Our current owners have now been in situ 3 years. Since the takeover in 2019, the home, residents and staff included have settled into a routine of sorts. Up to the present moment, I am grateful to still have a home, with the neccessary assistance, compassion and dignity the majority of the time. This is not to say that there isn’t frustrations, however. Brief examples include constanst change in agency staff filling in gaps in the staffing rota, and consequently, repition many times over of my assistance needs. Changes to suppliers, particularly, for food meant some vegan products were no longer provided. Additional dietary requirements have complicated this. The relevant staff have attempted to rectify this with little success at the time of writing. Cost cutting has happened in other areas too, as might be expected.
In writing this post, I’ve still glossed over a lot. I have no wish to wite a series of complaints. To that end there is a major positive to end this update with. Despite the difficulties of the pandemic of 2020-2021, this year, my home was awarded an overall “Good” rating by the Care Quality Commission. A notable achievement through lockdowns, ever-changing guidance and staff absence. Good ratings across the board was a pleasant and very well deserved outcome for the staff especially.
I’m greatful to still have a home and the support I need, despite the difficulties. I do my best to live as full a life as possible within my limitations. Now I’ve started writing again, it’s helping me to deal with things. Hopefully I can get my posts on a schedule once more. Till next time…