An Outstanding Achievement

“I wanted to make this a place I would be happy for my mum to live in”.

This ethos became the driving force for Lesley Hobbs to achieve an Outstanding CQC rating for Deerhurst Care Home, who are part of Brunelcare. Over the course of ten years, Lesley the Manager of Deerhurst, has worked tirelessly to create an environment that truly feels like home.

Lesley, who last year won ‘Dementia Care Inspirational leader’ at the National Dementia Care awards, is not afraid to take a risk. At Deerhurst there are no locks in the kitchen, people can help themselves to what they like when they like it, just like they would at home. Uniforms have been abolished - after all it’s a home not a place of work. You won’t find the tea trolley doing the rounds at 11am sharp, everyone has tea when they like to have tea, because that’s what happens at home.

Maintaining life skills 

If somebody wants to do something, Lesley will find a way. The residents at Deerhurst are always up to something fun, and can often be found gardening, painting or baking. An ideology of ‘maintaining life skills and learning new ones’ means that many people at Deerhurst are tech savvy, and use laptops and iPads to stay connected to the outside world. Recently Lesley arranged a swimming trip which was incredibly well received - so swimming has become a regular activity!

The staff at Deerhurst are valued and invested in, there is a very low staff turnover and they haven’t required agency staff for the last 9 years. There is a team of 20 committed volunteers who work at Deerhurst and they are as valued and respected as any member of staff. The culture of ‘them’ and ’us’ which has become all too familiar in many care settings, has been completely eradicated. For example, the staff and the residents share meals together, which promotes a sense of family and is a great opportunity for relaxed conversation. Labelling language has been removed; people are seen as ‘walking with purpose’ as opposed to ‘wandering’. Distressed, aggressive and difficult behaviour is seen as someone expressing their feelings, or feeling frightened.

A sense of purpose 

As a forward thinking home Deerhurst took part in the Alive iPals project. The project works by linking up a school and care home, and introduces the children and residents to each other via the creation of picture collages featuring likes, hobbies and interests, which are made using an iPad. 

One resident called Alan has blossomed through his participation in iPals, staff at Deerhurst describe him as having a new lease of life. Being a part of the project has given Alan confidence and a sense of purpose. With a more focused and upbeat attitude Alan is now writing and running the home’s magazine. It’s kept him busy on a daily basis, and has provided him with a full time job – which he loves! The project has encouraged conversation in the home and is inspiring others; people are seeing his success and thinking “I can do it too”.

It has been a long process, as culture change inevitably is. Only 1% of care homes are currently rated as outstanding, which is why this is such an incredible achievement for Deerhurst. We are so inspired by the hard work and dedication of Lesley and her team, and we hope that sharing some of the ideas that have worked for Deerhurst will inspire others too.