Cheryl Walne is part of Rotherwood Healthcare’s senior management team. We spoke with Cheryl about the second lockdown and how this could affect families and residents at Dorset House in Droitwich Spa.

What’s happening with visiting as we head into a second lockdown?

I’m really pleased that we’ve been able to open up visiting again at all the Rotherwood homes recently. When the transmission rate of the virus started to rise local authorities stopped visiting temporarily, and then of course we moved into the second Lockdown in the UK, we are so pleased the new guidance is in place from the government and we can welcome friends and relatives back in a safe way.

All of our homes have a designated visiting area. Obviously because transmission rates have risen recently we’ve had to make a thorough process for visitors to follow in order to keep everyone safe, but I have to say that families have been fantastic at following it. We’re all working together to make sure visiting can happen and that we reduce risk as much as possible.

But in person visits aren’t the only way of staying in touch, we have tablets around all the homes so that we can do video calls. In fact we’ve had quite a few residents blow out their birthday cake candles and be sung to with video calls. Roden Hall even managed to get a live stream of a granddaughter’s wedding taking place in America so that our resident didn’t miss out.

We try to send weekly pictures to family members and we’re always posting what we’ve been doing on facebook. And every two months we produce our own newspaper, The Rotherwood Times, that celebrates the activities, birthdays, news and awards from all the homes.

Worcester News: Marion Jenkins, Dorset House head chef - Recently nominated as a finalist in the Great British Care Awards for the 'Care Home Chef' category.Marion Jenkins, Dorset House head chef - Recently nominated as a finalist in the Great British Care Awards for the 'Care Home Chef' category.

Can you look after someone as well as they get looked after at home?

Well it’s a tough question, we work with our resident’s family members to get to know them intimately so that we can make the Rotherwood homes feel like their home. We learn about their favourite foods, how they like their tea and their life - this helps us to understand why they like something a certain way.

If someone was a postman all his life he might want to have breakfast at 4am because that’s what he’s used to and that’s what they would want to do at home and we encourage this. But being in a nursing home comes with so many more benefits that home care can’t provide. We have tailored activities for residents that just aren’t feasible at home, such as our pop-up pub and our era themed parties we host to help residents remember experiences from their past.

We also have an entire team that works with residents throughout the day from our healthcare team, catering team, lifestyle team and household team. We work in shift patterns to deliver exceptional care around the clock - one or two people trying to look after someone, do their job, look after their children etc just can’t offer the same level of support in all areas.

So when we’re asked: “Can you look after someone as well as they get looked after at home?” I almost don’t want to say “yes” because it doesn’t take into account how much better a good nursing home can be for the resident. Also when family and friends visit the home or have skype calls they can focus on their relationship and spend true quality time with their loved one whilst we take care of all the tasks in the background that they would usually have to take on themselves.

Worcester News: Ready to launch - Bonfire Night's firework display Ready to launch - Bonfire Night's firework display

Infection control and COVID-19 in the homes?

We have really strong policies in place to make sure we keep residents, staff and visitors as safe as possible. Testing is a big part of it, we test staff members every week and residents every 28 days. All staff have received extra training over the past months to ensure they are cleaning correctly and thoroughly, and are able to don, doff and dispose of PPE safely. This included developing our own staff training videos and offering support via zoom from our infection prevention and control (IPC) nurse to all of our care homes.

What can residents do now we’re locked down?

When Rotherwood takes over as a home operator they place a lot of importance on activities, in fact they put together a lifestyle team whose sole purpose is to design and lead activities at the home everyday. So having to shield over the pandemic was a real challenge, we had to be very creative and think how we could create those amazing community experiences within the safe confines of the home. Home manager of Hampton Grange, Dan Bridges, came up with the idea of virtual cruising.

Every week the ship set sail for a new country the lounge would be dressed in artifacts from that country and the residents would enjoy traditional food from that part of the world. We have singers and entertainers come to the homes and perform in the garden as our residents watch from the lounge area.

Worcester News: Bonfire night was all the more special thanks to some spectacular 'guys'Bonfire night was all the more special thanks to some spectacular 'guys'

We also use technology to make sure we don’t miss out on things such as the annual fireworks display held at Dorset House. This year we couldn’t invite friends and relatives to the home so we live streamed the event on facebook so that they could soak in the atmosphere and see their loved ones enjoying the show.

It was a fantastic success, the Dorset House team had put so much effort into organising the event. There was a spectacular fireworks display, a roaring bonfire, some amazingly decorated effigies and winter BBQ themed food for residents to enjoy.

To find out more about Rotherwood Healthcare, click: here